Identifying Strategic Partnerships

Case Study: Identifies Strategic Partnerships

Despite human and capital resources applied to co-branding, promotions, distribution, licensing and other external partnership opportunities, many companies still do not apply an objective methodology and analysis to finding the right partners to grow the business. An SVP of consumer products and a VP of marketing for a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company identified the need for building relationships for long-term growth and for finding the right partner for a new branding campaign. We took them through building and utilizing a partner roadmap process.

Most partnerships happen through serendipity, not strategy, and are derived with a mindset for short-term gain. Oftentimes, partnerships are one-off initiatives and not integrated from multi-functional areas within companies. They might not meet overall corporate objectives or consistently link to a defined strategic vision. When this happens, business value is difficult to sustain long term. The use of consistent objectivity needs to be applied through filters that identify and evaluate the most promising partnerships. 

A formal partner roadmap fundamentally changes the way in which executives engage, manage and measure partnerships. Partnerships typically include five types: minimal involvement (use of products or ingredients); licensing a name; co-branding; owning the partnership yet collaborating with someone to develop and execute it; or owning the initiative and employing vendors. Knowing which type of partnership to engage requires an applied methodology for sustainable benefits. Partnership opportunities include: marketing, promotions and operations. Partner roadmaps take from three to eight months and include interviewing executives to determine business objectives, brand values, target markets and success metrics. A tool is used to assess all partner activity. A competitive analysis is done to validate and generate ideas and categories are prioritized based on filter criteria, including strategic fit, brand impact, growth opportunity and shareholder value. Using research, the receptivity by potential partners is tested and specific creative initiatives developed. The partner roadmap process can end with a list of potential partners. This solution is ideal for use by new products, marketing, business development and strategy teams. The development of specific initiatives, the financial due diligence or the partnership terms are each a separate engagement.

Our partnership strategy identifies and prioritizes potential partners through categories that meet business objectives and fill gaps, fit brand vision and values, uncover trends and target new markets. We’ve applied partner roadmaps in healthcare, retail and CPG, including helping the new product innovation, R&D, and products capabilities teams develop more objective ways to identify partnerships and evaluate existing ones that were initiated without an integrated approach.