Five essential features of a corporate partnerships strategy

The Japanese strategy guru, Kenchi Ohmae, said, “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.”

A strong corporate partnerships strategy will give your team greater focus. It will help you seize opportunities, avoid confusion and unite an organisation. Also, the world has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is vital that you clarify how you will respond by shifting your corporate partnerships approach.

So here are our five essential features of a corporate partnerships strategy.

Corporate partnerships in a coronavirus world
This is the new context for your strategy. It means that some companies are fighting for survival, whilst others are thriving. It might be hard to reach company decision makers, but they need you now, more than ever.

This is because COVID-19 has created a purpose pressure cooker. In the midst of the pandemic companies will show their true colours. Do they really care? We believe that most business leaders (who are people by the way!) want to provide an extraordinary response to this crisis. It is up to charities to engage them and show them what is possible.

How can you be part of their survival plan so you can both emerge stronger from the pandemic?

Competitor analysis
To understand how to stand out in your market, you need an understanding of what other charities in that market are doing. Identifying three or four charities that have a similar mission or cause to yours and conducting some brief research into how they run their corporate partnerships programme can be incredibly useful.

We recommend you seek to understand the history of their key partnerships – including how they were formed and what they look like. It can also help to note how they talk about corporate partnerships on their website and social media. This exercise will provide you with vital insight that will enhance your strategy and increase your corporate partnerships success.

How you build corporate partnerships
It is very easy to have a scatter-gun approach to building corporate partnerships. But the problem with this approach is you rarely hit the target. Therefore, your strategy is a great opportunity for you to write down how you build corporate partnerships. What is your method?

You can define your method by answering these questions below:

  • What is our purpose for creating corporate partnerships?
  • What makes our partnership offer unique?
  • Who are our target industries (see below)?
  • How do we make our first approach?
  • How do we convert prospects into partners?
  • How do we deliver a brilliant partnerships experience?

If you clarify your method in your strategy you will empower your team to deliver resuls, safe in the knowledge that they are following your recommended approach.

Involving colleagues
As we mentioned in our previous blog, involving your colleagues in building and delivering corporate partnerships is probably the greatest factor determining your success. So you want to ensure you build strong internal partnerships with key colleagues.

Your strategy is the ideal place for you to describe your approach to building these internal partnerships. We recommend you include a table of “interdependencies” in your strategy. It should have three columns with the following headings:

  1. Internal team
  2. What you want from them
  3. What they want from you

In column one you list all the teams who are essential for your corporate partnerships success. Then you write down what you want from each of them in column two. For example, this could be helping build pitches or attend prospect meetings.

The next step is to meet with them and share what you want. Ask them what they want from you in return and write this in column three. If you follow this through you are on your way to building strong internal partnerships.

Target industries
Who you want to partner with is one of the most important strategic decisions a partnerships team can make. Therefore, spending some time looking at the industries that can really make a difference to your cause is an essential step in forming your strategy. To identify your priority industries, we recommend asking the following questions:

  • Which industries can help solve your problems? Can they help you scale your services, reach new audiences or strengthen your virtual offering? Who has expertise that you need?
  • Which industries have problems you can help solve? Do they want to increase to their employee engagement, reach new audiences or increase their diversity? Which industries would really benefit from your partnership?

Equipped with the knowledge above, your corporate partnerships team will be empowered to form corporate partnerships that genuinely contribute to your mission, deliver incredible partnership experiences and be fulfilled in their roles. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to write that strategy.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more, consider attending our upcoming Corporate Partnerships Strategy Training, which you can read about here.

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