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- 00:44 – Simone Novello, expert in strategic alliances and marketing partnerships
- 04:40 – Strategic alliance vs. Marketing Partnership vs. Joint Venture
- 07:58 – The best marketing strategy on the planet
- 11:20 – Top 3 golden rules for the perfect strategic alliance
Strategic Alliances in 6 Steps
- 17:55 – The 6 steps that get you a strategic alliance
- 18:18 – Step 1: It’s really important to get partner-ready
- 20:15 – Step 2: Your asset audit
- 24:53 – Step 3: P____ing for gold
- 28:39 – Never Eat Alone
- 29:30 – Big corporates need your help.
- 32:58 – Step 4: Choosing the type of partner program for your business
- 36:02 – Step 5: Sealing the deal
- 39:25 – Tell me who your LinkedIn connections are and I will tell you who you are
- 41:30 – Exit the meeting with grace: leverage every opportunity
- 43:14 – To have or not to have a written agreement?
- 44:30 – Step 6: ‘Happily Ever After’ in partnerships is attained through _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
- 45:45 – Get your free 6 step flow chart using the Super Savvy Business secret code
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Transcription starts here:
Fiona: Hi, Fiona Soutter here from Super Savvy Business and welcome back to this week’s podcast episode. Today we have a very special guest in the area of strategic alliances, and this is a topic which I believe is very important to business owners.
Now, our expert today is Simone Novello. Simone and I have known each other for a few years now and once I found out what Simone had expertise in, I knew that she was someone that I really wanted to connect with from the business point of view.
Now Simone is a subject matter expert in strategic alliances and marketing partnerships with over 17 years experience in the corporate arena and running her own business. Simone founded her business in 2005, rebranding as Partner Up, which offers one-to-one consulting. And in 2009 here was a growing demand for businesses needing to form these strategic alliances and there was very little expertise in the area of marketing partnerships.
The thing that I love about Simone is that she has a 360 degree view of partnerships, working across a number of industry verticals, including:
- financial services
- and retail
…to name a few. Now, Simone’s long background in loyalty marketing has seen her work with some of Australia’s biggest and most successful brands, including:
- Virgin Australia
- The Commonwealth Bank
- And American Express
So you can see that she has a lot of big brands behind her. And with a consistent track record of success, she thrives on connecting businesses for mutual gain and is particularly energised by aligning smart up & coming businesses with big brands for fast growth.
So I think you are going to get a lot out of our interview today and I am very excited to be able to bring Simone today to our call.
So welcome to the call, Simone, thank you so much for being here!
Simone: Thanks Fiona, it’s a pleasure to be here and I am really excited about talking about this topic, so please tell me to stop when we run out of time…! (giggles)
Fiona: Hahaha! We’ll do! I know you and I do tend to sort of get going and prattle on when we get talking about business, because it is something that we are both very passionate about. Now, I have given a bit of a background as to who you are and what you have done in the past, but would you like to explain to our listeners a little bit more about who you are and what your current projects are and what you are doing?
Simone: Yes, absolutely, and thank you for the wonderful introduction! So I have been in partnership marketing now for over 10 years… I rebranded as Partner Up, as you said, because I recognised a growing demand around the world really for strategic alliances and marketing partnership in businesses of all stages and sizes.
As you mentioned, I have a long corporate background, I worked with a lot of brands; I have also, on that side of the fence, worked with startups and small businesses that were, you know, had a really great idea or business model that were ready for growth and I saw them absolutely catapult their business growth and sales growth by aligning with some of these big brands that I have worked with.
So in response to that I developed a new brand called Partner Up Hub, and that brand is specifically targeted towards smart startups, smart small business looking for fast growth… uhm, and also in the medium business sector as well. So in doing that I aligned with my business partner Fiona Ranson who has built 9 businesses on the back of strategic alliances herself. She has over 25 years experience in business and strategic alliances as well.
So that’s the.. the new brand was born, and this is the one we are really excited about because it’s a more leveraged model and it is therefore a lot more cost-effective than hiring someone like me one-on-one to do it for you. And as the best marketing strategy on the planet with the highest ROIs that I have ever seen from any form of marketing, it’s a skill that I believe any business leader and any business owner should learn.
Fiona: And, you know, just listening to you talking about Partner Up Hub – that’s exactly why I knew that bringing you here today for today’s podcast was going to be extremely valuable to our community at Super Savvy Business.
Now, a lot of people might have heard about this thing called strategic alliances, but maybe they don’t quite understand exactly what that is, and, you know, how they can do that exactly in their business. So I am just wondering, Simone, can you just sort of, can you give us an explanation of exactly what a strategic alliance is in the world of business?
Simone: A really good place to start, of course. And one of the things that I would love to start with is the distinction between strategic alliance, marketing partnership and joint venture. Because those three terms, you have probably heard them a lot, there are a lot of business leaders and coaches and mentors talking about these things, and the terms are used pretty interchangeably within the small business sector.
And I think it is important to make the distinction because particularly if you are targeting an alliance with a bigger brand… they have very different meanings for these words and it’s important to understand that because otherwise you can get shut down pretty fast simply because you are asking for something that is not what you think you are asking for. (giggles)
Fiona: Right! Okay…
Simone: So I mean yeah, and it’s really interesting because I ran a round table recently and it was where I started and everybody breathe a sigh of relief because they didn’t want to ask the question (laughs)
Fiona: Ahahah! (laughs out loud)
Simone: They thought it is a dumb question. It’s not a dumb question, it’s a very good question. So if you look at it… I like to draw some parallels between business partnerships and personal partnerships because really a lot of the same principles apply.
So the way I can distinguish between them is that
- Marketing partnership is like dating someone;
- Strategic alliance is like being engaged;
- And a joint venture is like being marrying.
So it goes on a continuum from less commitment through to more commitment.
Fiona: Love it!
Simone: When I talk about marketing… it’s the easy way to remember it! (laughs)
A marketing partnership is definitely something that is, uh, you know, only applies to the marketing vertical of your business. So it generally revolves only around marketing, you are joing forces with someone to share marketing resources and gauge your business in a marketing capacity from that point of view.
Strategic alliance… in small business we talk a lot about strategic alliance because when you are dealing with other business owners and you are dealing with other businesses that don’t… aren’t so silent in terms of their departments, a strategic alliance makes sense, because you may be working together in a marketing capacity but you may also find that there are other areas that you can leverage one another’s resources. You may be leveraging a team of VAs, it could be offices, it could be sharing a warehouse or fulfillment facilities… So, you know, a strategic alliance, all of the same principles that we share with our community really do apply across industry verticals, but for smaller businesses it makes a lot of sense.
A joint venture is where you are really getting into bed with somebody and you may be both investing money, you may have co-ownership of a particular product that you develop together… It’s a much more of a business partnership as opposed to a marketing partnership.
Fiona: Okay, so…
Simone: So that… yeah.
Fiona: So the strategic alliance is really, uhm, the main topic that we will talk about today. So can you explain to us then why small to medium size business owners might want to go and set up these strategic alliances?
Simone: Absolutely! Look, it’s the… it is the best marketing strategy on the planet, and my business partner and I wholeheartedly believe that. We are the only people in the world who are running this sort of business for this sector, which is really exciting to us and it energizes me because I love helping businesses grow by working smart and not working hard and you know, entrepreneurs work incredibly hard and it’s about time they had access to this sort of marketing strategy.
Now, what this sort of marketing strategy can do for any business, really, at any stage is it enables you to find money. So if you don’t have the money to go out, you don’t have the marketing budget to go out and grow your business the way you want to, you find the right partner and you can share their marketing resources. So all of a sudden you don’t need the budgets that you used to need. So it’s a great way of finding money.
It’s a great way of building your brand — you are judged by the company you keep … so that can be work for you or against you, so be careful about the company you keep (giggles) —
Simone: And you know, just by being aligned with a particular brand, there is implied endorsement, there is implied credibility, so it’s a great way of building your own brand; it’s an awesome way of growing your audience… so you can get access to databases that are ‘our money can’t buy’ databases – they are not available for sale – so you have an opportunity to reach databases of your ideal customer by aligning with a complementary brand that is targeting the same type of customer.
And the fourth one is that you can monetize your assets. So every business and every person has business and personal assets that you can potentially monetize. You can repurpose those for the purpose of a strategic alliance or a marketing partnership and you can amplify them.
And I can’t go into that now because we will run out of time (giggles) but we do have more resources around this sort of information, but it’s really exciting because you can be taking existing assets that you probably didn’t even realize you had and you can be monetizing them. So there are a lot of good reasons for doing this.
Fiona: So what I am hearing very loud and clear from you, Simone, is: leverage, leverage, leverage! I mean, you just brought up four points and all that was going through my head was, this is a leveraged way to do business.
Simone: Absolutely! And it’s not only leveraged, it’s fun! So when you find the right partner, it is rewarding, it’s profitable, it’s fun and it’s leveraged. So it is… you know, it really… it’s a fantastic strategy!
Fiona: Mmm… Because, you know, the majority of small to medium size business owners, they don’t have this marketing budgets, they don’t have the time to go out and put all this time into, uh, you know, it can take a lot of time to build that database and to find… you know, to get access to your target market. So if you can connect with other complementary businesses that you can leverage off what they have already got going on and they leverage off what you have got going on, then it is a win-win, isn’t it?
Simone: Absolutely, and that brings me to the top three golden rules for the perfect strategic alliance. And that is:
Number one: It’s got to be win-win.
You have got to go into it with a win-win attitude and you have got to have that intention of working with your partner to create win-win outcomes. If it’s win-lose, it is not going to be a sustainable partnership.
So even if you are the best negotiator in the world and you can go out and convince somebody to give you a whole heap of value without you having to do much in return, it’s not the premise of a successful strategic alliance and you either are going to put that person out of business or they are going to wake up and say well, this is not good for me, so I am outta here.
So if you are going… and look, it’s having that attitude of abundance, you know? We do better together. We always have. It’s that concept of interdependence, uhm, as opposed to independence. It’s having two strong entities that can complement one another, can come together and.. you know, the sum of the parts is greater… the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. (laughs)
Fiona: Yes, yes.
Simone: So, look, that’s really important. The second one is that:
It’s absolutely critical to have value alignment.
So there is absolutely no point in, uh, you know, the Heart Foundation aligning with British American Tobacco. (Fiona laughs) It like, you know, “We’ll donate $1 for every pack of cigarettes to the Heart Foundation” (laughs). So there are some really poor examples of poorly aligned, uh, partnership marketing campaigns. And this is quite a shocking one that I use, a picture in one of our webinars. I don’t know if that would be appropriate for your audience, but it certainly alway raises eyebrows.
Uh, so you know, it is absolutely critical that you have the same value alignment, because, a.) You are going to be working closely with this person, you are going to be working in partnership. If you are a highly ethical business, you don’t want to get to bed with an unethical business.
You are a nimble fun, quirky, cheeky brand, you don’t want to get into bed with a conservative, dry, slow-moving beast. I mean, look, sometimes it can work, but think about it like a marriage: when you have two people of very different cultural backgrounds coming together, they have a whole other set of challenges they have to work through.
Your best partnerships will generally be the ones where you have a very good value alignment.
Fiona: And I guess that sometimes, Simone, that value alignment may not be that obvious. So there might be a bit of due diligence that you might have to do in order to really get an understanding of this business you are considering forming a strategic alliance with.
Simone: Absolutely, and we have a 6-step process that we go through. And the first 4 steps are all about preparation. And you know, it is so important that you do your homework here. It’s honestly like forming a personal relationship: you don’t become serious about someone until you know about them, and you know enough about them to understand if you are compatible.
And honestly, the bottom line is listen to your gut. We talk about, you know, I think in business, as entrepreneurs, you have got to go with your guts sometimes and you have got to make swift decisions and you just listen carefully to language. I mean ‘gut’ is not an airy-fairy concept, you know, your intuition is usually based on the feeling you get based on processing information and Fiona and I both use an example of being in a business meeting where you listen to someone talk like How can we cut them out of the deal? or, you know, uhm, Can we steal those ideas?.
I mean, you listen to those sorts of words and you ask yourself, Is this somebody that I want to partner with? Is this going to be a real partnership and can I trust them? If you can’t trust your partner, you definitely shouldn’t be with them. So, very very important.
Fiona: Yeah. Now, you have mentioned the 6-step process, which I would love to come to in a minute and I really hope that you are willing to share that with us, but we were talking about the three golden rules. I think we went through one and two; was there a third one that we haven’t covered yet?
Simone: Absolutely, and I do remember what it is (both laugh). It’s, uh, it’s target market alignment. So, you know, it’s an obvious one, but it is really funny because I think we are all guilty of this: sometimes we miss the most obvious things. And the obvious thing is don’t waste your time chasing a prospective alliance partner that has a different target market unless it is a target market that you are wanting to grow into, unless it is a brand that you think could benefit from targeting your market.
Uhm, you know, go for the low-hanging fruit, pick someone that’s got an aligned target market. A good example of this is there is no point in a company in sales insurance for pensioners to align with a family four wheel drive brand. You know, it’s just… it’s not going to work. So you really want to ensure that you have got that target market alignment.
Fiona: So I guess what you are saying is there is no point forming a strategic alliance, let’s say, with a bigger brand that maybe might be good for your credibility, uh, if they don’t also bring with them the same target market.
Simone: Well, that’s exactly right. And, you know, we always say that it’s not the size that matters as much as the alignment. So in the case of strategic alliances, it’s not the biggest database that will get you the best outcome, it’s the best aligned database.
Fiona: Do you know that… just getting back to my techno-geeky sort of way of thinking is very much the way I teach people about keywords. There is no point going after a keyword that has, you know, 200.000 searches a month if the people who are conducting those searches aren’t your target market.
You are better off like you say, going for the low hanging fruit where maybe there might be a couple of really highly ta… a couple of thousand highly targeted people searching for a long tail keyword. Uh, so I guess the same roles really apply.
Simone: Absolutely, and you know, we always talk about the fact that, uhm, you just gotta use common sense and really with strategic alliances, your first one is always the hardest. So one of the things we talk to our guys about is: a.) 95% of our clients are sitting on assets that are underutilised or they didn’t realize they had; and nearly the same percentage are sitting on a network or sitting on existing connections that they could be aligning with, that are known to them (we call them known prospects).
So really, most businesses have more profit they could be unlocking in their businesses right now, using assets they have already got and connections they have already got.
Fiona: Mmmm… that’s such good advice! Now can we maybe twist your around the share of that 6 step process? Because I know that our community at Super Savvy Business would get a lot of value from hearing it.
Simone: Absolutely, it will be my pleasure to take you through them.
Fiona: Thank you! I’m so excited! I can’t wait to hear it myself. (giggles) Get your pen and paper ready, guys!
Simone: (giggles) Alrightie, so look:
Step 1: It’s’ really important to get partner-ready
We use the analogy of … you know, we have all had that friend (or maybe we have been there at some point in our lives) where you run around and you are screeching, Oh my God, I need a boyfriend!! It’s not about finding THE ONE, it’s about finding ANYONE.
And if you are in that space of desperation, uh, you know, a partnership is not going to save you. You need to look at your business in a realistic light and you need to see what you need to become partner-ready. And you also have to be not too modest, you know? You have got to look at your business and go Well, you know what? I am AWESOME in these areas and I need a bit of work in these areas.
Getting partner-ready doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a multimillion dollar successful business already – you know, this is part of the point of a strategic alliance – but it means that your business has to be in a good headspace (it’s probably a good way to put it). You know, you are… you have got a great product or service, you are confident that you have got the right model and that you are ready to grow.
And what you have also got to look at is how ready or how much are you ready to grow by? Because that affects your partnering strategy. So getting partner-ready is also about forming a strategy that helps you realise what you need to do, what partners you should be going at at this stage of your business. So depending on where your business is at, you might be ready to go out and partner with another small business, or you might be ready to go out and partner with a medium business, or you might be ready to go out and partner with American Express or a Qantas Airlines, you know? The stage of your business and how… where you are at determines who you go after and how you go after them. So that’s what getting partner-ready means. It doesn’t mean that you need a super successful business already, but you need to have your foundations right.
Fiona: Very good advice, okay. So, step 2?
Simone: So step 2 is all about your asset audit. So what we do at step two is we look at… we take you through looking at your personal and your business assets. So it’s really important to… take Richard Branson and Virgin as a good example. Before Virgin, Richard Branson only had Richard Branson.
Richard Branson used his personal assets to build his business assets. He’s now got both. And what you have got to look at is both sides of yourself in business.
Uh, you know, people like John Symond… he used, you know… he’s the face of, was the face of Aussie Home Loans; he built that business using lots of his personal assets. And he’s not, you know, Brad Pitt. So you don’t necessarily have to be gorgeous or… You know, there are lots of things that constitute assets… uhm… and a good example I use here for repurposing an asset is when we did some work with Darrell Lea. And they didn’t have the marketing budgets of Cadbury, but I went in there and I said, well, what do you have? You have a chocolate factory in Sydney.
And they said, Yes, that is a manufacturing facility.
I said, No, it’s not; it’s a really Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory V.I.P. experience. (giggles)
Fiona: Riiight! Love it!
Simone: We are going to use it to engage with all of the partners that you want to work with. And we had the head of Qantas out there, we had Westfield out there, we had American Express out there, and we got hundreds of thousands of dollars in incremental marketing exposure by getting those people through the factory and having them come out with a grin from ear to ear looking like, you know, kids in a candy store.
Fiona: I was about … that’s exactly what I was imagining! (laughs)
Simone: Sending them home with a bag of goodies that they could share with their family and their colleagues… And you know, the exposure that got them for the brand, the engagement that it created and the doors that opened, the promotional exposure that we got and the subsequent sales, was phenomenal! And what did it cost them? It cost them a bit of our time and some confectionery. So, you know, it cost… it cost us hardly anything…
Fiona: So that was an asset that they already had that they were under-utilising.
Simone: Exactly! So we monetise the asset by repurposing it and using it in a different way.
Simone: And if you think about it, most businesses.. look, on a smaller scale I have got a dear friend and client of ours who runs an online organic gardening course and her assets included the fact that she has… she’s quite a sexy chic! And she makes gardening sexy!
So that’s her point of difference and then she has also created a way of instructing people on how they can create their own organic veggie patch and the target market is busy mums. So she teaches you how to do it quickly, how to learn it easily, and she had a lot of assets and she actually recently partnered with Better Homes and Gardens and doubled her database overnight. Prior to that it took her 2 years to build her database to that point.
Simone: So she posted on my Facebook page and said, Partnerships WORK! (laughs)
Fiona: Wow! See, I just get so excited hearing about this stuff because the potential for a business to really take off or reach their goals and their targets in a much faster time can happen when you get this right.
Simone: Absolutely, and I mean this is incredibly powerful stuff! And it is why we are so excited to have developed a model that brings this to your audience. I mean we had some guys in our Fast Track program who are already signing their first alliances. And they posted on our Alumni page about their wins. And I have got a confession to make: I started crying!! (laughs)
Fiona: Awwww…. (laughs) love it!!
Simone: I was … don’t tell my kids this, but I was almost prouder than my kids, you know, when they achieve things… I was just like, this is awesome!
Fiona: That’s the wonderful thing, isn’t it? When you work in the coaching arena, when you have your clients and … achieving their goals… it is the most wonderful thing to watch, isn’t it?
Simone: Oh, look, it is, and we ran a webinar for Anthill and we got a great testimonial from one of the guys on the call and he said, I thought it was going to be a webinar where someone was just going to try to sell me something and I was pleasantly surprised by [the valuable information that we gave away] so I then got off the call and set up my two first alliance meetings. And I thought that’s awesome, that’s exactly what we want to hear.
Fiona: Yep, getting that feedback is absolute gold! So we have gone through step one, step two, step three… ?
Simone: Okay, so step three is your partner prospecting. So we call it prospecting for gold.
And that means you you want to sift out all the rocks and the dirt and all the stuff that is not important to your business. You want to find the nuggets of gold and what you do there is.. we take our guys through a customer journey and we get texts out and you know, we really have a lot of fun with this.
And you want to… whatever time period you choose that is relevant to your business, so if you are in, you know, child products you might start at pre-pregnancy, it depends on your type of business, right through to when your toddlers are five… and you go through the whole journey that your customer goes through. And you think about everything they are thinking about: their pain points, the resources they use, the communities they join, the magazines they buy… and you want to think about all of the other things they are thinking about and buying when they are thinking about your product.
You then go back and underline all those products and services and magazines and things that they are doing that relate to other industry verticals. And that’s where you find your aligned partner prospects.
So a great little tip that we share is that you know, if you know your customers are reading a certain magazine, or they are part of a certain business community, go in and see who’s advertising. Because a.) they have got budget, and b.) they try to reach your target market. So that’s how you go to your low-hanging fruit partner – that’s how you identify your partner prospects.
What you then want to do once you identify your industry verticals you are going for and then what categories and what specific brands is look in your own network, look in the networks of the people around you and if you are running a business that you live and breathe… so if you are in the wellness industry chances are you buy organic food, you might shop at Lorna Jane, you might go and do yoga or Pilates… You have already got these connections: you are a customer to some of the brands you may want to align with. You have suppliers. You can partner with your suppliers.
So you look at your existing network and you go for the low-hanging fruit first.
Fiona: You know, and that’s.. it’s often the way in business that sometimes the biggest opportunities are right there in front of you. And you just don’t see them.
Simone: Right under your nose! (laughs) And it’s like those people who marry the guy they went to Uni with, that they have been best friends with for 20 years. (Fiona laughs) They were looking for THE ONE and then one day they turned around and looked at him differently and they say, Oh, wow, you were there all along!
And it’s a bit like that and actually a lot of the feedback we get is the mindshift that people go through when they are learning the ins and outs of strategic alliances. Some of the quotes of had are, Oh my God, you got me looking at everybody as a prospective partner! I realise I have got opportunities all around me! it just comes from this blinding flash of the obvious, which is when somebody helps you to make the shift and look differently around you, you suddenly see everything in a different light.
So we are all surrounded by opportunities; it’s just about knowing how to identify them, and then how to set them up and leverage them and run them ongoing.
Fiona: Look, I am getting really excited on this topic here, Simone; the thing that I am loving about it is that it’s businesses helping to grow each other’s businesses. So the entrepreneurs are supporting one another and helping to grow together. And so this is what… I suppose, this is not all about, you know, being all commercial and selfish and being all about me, me, me! This is well, how can we help each other? How can we grow each other’s businesses?
Simone: Absolutely! And you know, this is what it actually is about. And I am reading this book at the moment, called Never Eat Alone and he talks about the fact that when you look at a lot of the wealthy people, a lot of the well-to-do people, it’s the way in which they help each other get ahead that gives them the edge. It is leveraging the power of their networks. Oh I will make a call and you know, open that door for you.
And look, I call it business karma. Seriously, what goes around comes around in business; and the more generous you are when you need something… I can pick up the phone and I can get in touch with just about anybody. I can open the door and enter just about anywhere. And one of the reasons behind that is the fact that I am very generous in terms of helping people to connect, and that certainly comes back to me.
Another little secret that I would love to let you in on and your audience in on is that a lot of the big corporates are having trouble engaging with small businesses. And so, if you are a bay-to-bay business and you are targeting the small business sector, a lot of the big corporates are looking for the sort of innovation that only small businesses and startups and entrepreneurs can provide.
So there is a growing opportunity because the entrepreneurs sector and the small business sector is growing so fast, corporates realise they can’t ignore it anymore. And I know personally I am working with a very large financial institution global financial institution at the moment and I have just signed a deal between them and a well-known small business investitor; because quite frankly, they are in trouble. They know that the small business sector is a huge part of their business now; they have never put a lot of money towards it, and as a result they lost a lot of market share and they needed help. And the only place they were going to get that was not from someone who have been in corporate for the last 20 years, but from someone who lives and breathes small business.
So there are a lot of growing opportunities to partner with the big guys to grow your business. And that applies to business-to-consumer as well. Because you are talking about the opportunity to deliver something very nimble; I mean you look at the example of David Jones and Shoes of Prey… Shoes of Prey are a startup… a tech startup that started in 2009 and, you know, they have now got an alliance with David Jones. So there are some really interesting examples out there of that happening. Brands like Red Balloon Days, Roses Only, eFragrance, they all got this start aligning with some of the big loyalty programs.
Fiona: Yeah, exactly, exactly. You know, it’s.. the world of business is changing and like you say, it’s … a lot of that I think has got to do with the opportunities the internet can provide for small businesses, where that’s probably allowing more entrepreneurs to go out there and get started for lower costs. And I guess, you know, like you say, corporates need to adjust and adapt to the changing way of business.
Simone: And they need help! They seriously need help. I mean, we worked with a very very large fashion retail group last year and I know that one of their number one priorities was to grow their online sales.
And to be honest, most corporates are really lousy at it, so… you know, there are so many talented entrepreneurs out there who know this stuff. And if you don’t think you have got assets, I will tell you right now I came into this… into my own business with a corporate background and an arrogant attitude, thinking I had an edge because I had a corporate background.
It’s been a handicap I have ever had! It’s taken me a lot of time to retrain myself. (laughs)
Fiona: Riiight! So it’s a different type of thinking I guess, isn’t it? It’s just totally different.
Simone: Absolutely! it really… so, look I have… turning in circles and knowing people like yourself… you are… you know, you are super-smart and you have got the edge on the traditional way of doing business. So you have a lot to offer to businesses of any size.
Fiona: Mmm… I guess for me though, because I didn’t initially come from the world of business, I had to learn it as I came along. So I suppose you had to undo prior learning, whereas I just had to get that learning in the first place. So it’s, I suppose, different backgrounds.
But listen, I am really keen on listening to the rest of these steps. I have gone up to number 4, is that right? So… uh…
Simone: Up to 4, yes, yes… So the other three, these are pretty fast. I mean in terms of what you can do here, and… the fourth one is all about choosing the type of partner program that suits your business. So what you do there is; we give our guys a top 10 partnership marketing types and it can be anything from content marketing to being a bonus or redemption partner in a large scale loyalty program , or being a benefit partner, or being an affiliate… there is lots of different ways that you can partner with other businesses.
In some cases you may just give them content, in other cases you may award their points to your customer. So for example, you bought Qantas Frequent Flyer points, you can award them to your customer… so there’s.. you need to work out what suits your business.
So if you were looking to.. you know, distribution partnership would enable you to reach new markets. So you partner with businesses in other markets where you are wanting to grow. Or, if you want to grow your distribution channels, you can find a distribution partnership.
A licence partnership could be you manufacture a, you know, fantastic children’s toy and you want to brand it with the Wiggles. You know, you look at Lego – they are fantastic at this – they do Harry Potter Lego, they do Batman Lego. So, uhm, you know, that’s an example of another type of partnership.
Co-marketing partnership is like Apple and Nike. They created a new product, which was the… I don’t know the fancy name for it is, but it’s the thing you stick in your shoe and you can measure how far you run that links to your iPod. Uhm, so there are lots of different ways that you can partner.
Cause marketing is another favourite of mine and the Breast Cancer foundation have done such an amazing job of their cause marketing partnerships! Breast cancer actually has overexposure now to the detriment of other cancers.
So you know, there is such a thing as being too successful (laughs) and I guess a word of warning there, uhm, the reason why you want to choose the right partner for your stay in business is if you get out and get a partner who has got a database of a million people and you are not ready for that sort of growth, you can put yourself out of business.
So you need to be very careful about what path you choose at what point. You know, the biggest partner is not necessarily going to get you the best outcome. Depending on where you are at.
Fiona: Right. Okay, so you have got to be quite, uh, realistic with yourself as to what type of partnership is really going to work best for your business.
Simone: Absolutely. So if you have got high margins, you know, affiliate partnerships work well; if you have got really tiny margins unless you are a high volume business you are not gonna be able to deliver enough value through an affiliate partnership to make it worthwhile. So you just have to do your homework and research the different types of partnerships. Look at examples of companies that have used them, and find the ones that make sense to you.
Fiona: Okay, so we have now identified the types of partners we want to connect with; we are clear in our heads what type of partnership we want to try and set up. Uh, I take it we are moving towards that stage of actually contacting potential partners?
Simone: Yes, so module five or step five is all about sealing the deal. So, you know, this is where you open the doors, and what we talk about here is, you know, it’s really important to engage with people and the reason we do so much preparation is particularly for the very good partners out there; they are inundated with requests to partner up all the time. Some guys get 5 to 10 requests a day.
So you want to make sure you have the right approach. You only have one chance to make the first impression and you want to make sure you are doing it right, which is why we spend so much time on the preparation. By the time you get here, you have got to be damn confident about what it is you have got to offer and how to open the door for yourself.
So it is really important that you have a really refined elevated pitch. And you watch someone’s ears prick up when you mention their target market. So, you know, when you’ve got…
I guess the other thing to say is don’t give away the farm in the first contact. You know, particularly if you don’t know somebody, you don’t want to tell them too much because you are giving them more opportunity to rule you out. You kind of want to whet their appetite. You want to mention their target market, you want to allude to the fact that you believe there are some great synergies and you want to explore the opportunity for a win-win relationship.
And you want to respect their time – a lot of these people are very busy. Ideally, you want to meet face to face over a cup of coffee, but if you don’t have time, you know, at least you want to get on the phone with them.
Fiona: It was going to be my first example…. My next question, sorry: what’s the best approaches? To try and meet face to face if you can, or …?
Simone: Look, it really depends on the prospect and it depends on the offering. So ideally, yes, it is great to have that personal connection with somebody, but when you make the initial contact, you know, either pick up the phone or use LinkedIn. LinkedIn email is a great way to do it.
Don’t ever send a connect request without any introduction as to who you are. I hate getting those; unless it is really blatantly obvious, like we have 50 mutual connections and we are part of the same business network, I really hate receiving connect requests without any form of introduction.
So just make a warm introduction to yourself, even if it is just through LinkedIn email and just say something like Look, I saw you speak at so and so, or I just read an article about bla… You want to go in with some sort of warm introduction, you know? You might have some sort of mutual contact, and you can say Look so and so suggested I give you a call because there may be synergies and I’d like to talk to you about that opportunity. You know? So you want to… you want to prick their ears up and you can do that on the phone… either way, it is good to do your little elevated pitch, because you are scripted. You can either use it in written communication or by picking up the phone.
Simone: We have a lot of this… doing LinkedIn inmail, or email, or just picking up the phone. I mean, they are the main ways you want to get in touch with somebody.
Fiona: So just out of curiosity – this is a little bit off topic and going sideways in regards to LinkedIn – you get, you know, these requests from people that.. you know, you don’t know, and there is no personal message with that. You know, what are your feelings on connecting with people on LinkedIn that are just random people?
Simone: Look, I am very careful about who I connect with, because I like to maintain integrity in my network and there are a lot of spruikers out there … so, you know. Look, I… someone asked to connect with me and we had one mutual connection. So I picked the phone up and I said, ‘Do you know who this guy is?’. And he said, Oh, to be honest, I just accepted the request. And to me, that instantly eroded the credibility of his network.
So I would suggest that you don’t just connect with anybody; I mean same applies to your audience. I wouldn’t… I don’t just connect with anybody and I suggest you don’t either. I mean, it is a bit of an ego thing to go, Oh, I have got 5,000 connections on LinkedIn! or, you know, I have got 1,000 Facebook friends! But to me, it is always about quality.
And there is a good… you know, you don’t have to know them that well, but there has got to be a good reason to be connected with them; otherwise I wouldn’t do it.
Fiona: Yep, yep. Okay, thank you for digressing a little bit, because I was just curious; because I often get people coming through LinkedIn that aren’t connected to any of my networks and I think Hmmm…. and there is not even a personal note with it to explain why they want to connect with me and you wonder: are they trying to get into your network and see who else you are connected with? You wonder what the motivations are.
Simone: Absolutely, and look, sometimes the first thing I do is look at their profile. The second you can do is, if they do look kind of interesting, I will respond to their request first and say, Look, how do I know you? Can I ask how you found my profile? How can I help you? kind of thing.
And a lot of the time they don’t respond. And it’s because they’re spruikers. So people have to earn a connection, I think. And so, if you do that, you’ll have a really good quality network and you have a lot of integrity in your network as well.
Fiona: Fantastic! Okay, so we are now at the final stage, Simone?
Simone: Yes! So look, you know, once you’ve opened the door, you’ve made the connection, you established they are interested… and look, just on that point, if they are not interested, ask for feedback and exit the meeting with grace. You want.. there is still a connection; you don’t know who they know so don’t ever consider a contact a wasted contact. Also, don’t bark up the wrong tree. If you establish really quickly that it was actually not a good opportunity to work together, don’t try and make some really loose connections as to why you should really partner up or try and convince them to do something that doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
So, you know, that is really important in sealing the deal. Partnerships can be very time-consuming so you don’t want to waste your time on the wrong ones. You want to quickly work out for you — and them — what makes sense and just, you know, just move on.
But definitely, you know, use an opportunity to build a network and find out who they know. Because quite often – and this has happened to us – you meet with someone and they say, you know what? Love the opportunity! It is not right for our company, but you should talk to so and so and make an introduction.
Fiona: Perfect! Yes…
Simone: That’s a really good outcome too.
Fiona: Mmmmm… definitely! And like you say, it may not be the right timing right then and there, but maybe further down the track they might go, Oh, you know what? Maybe we should be connecting with such and such. Or, like you say, perhaps they might be talking to another business owner and they are, Oh!, you know? And I know this has happened between yourself and my business, where we met other people and go, Oh, you really should be speaking to Simone Novello about blah blah blah!
So although it might not have been the right connection for two businesses, a business scene might come along and that’s when they might connect you.
Simone: Absolutely! And look, and the other tip in sealing the deal is you don’t necessarily need complicated agreements, but you really need to have everything in writing. You have got to be very clear about the commitment that has been made on each side. Not because you don’t trust one another, but because you don’t want to leave room for misunderstanding. You don’t want to ruin a perfectly good partnership because you thought they were going to do X and they thought you were going to do it.
So it is really important that you have a clear agreement that you have written down and that you both acknowledged. And also along the way, if it is appropriate to have some sort of confidentiality statement so you can openly share information, then make sure you take the time to do those things because it is worthwhile.
Don’t get caught up in the paperwork; I mean, I never entangle a partner in a contract because quite frankly the power of the relationship is in the relationship, not in how long the type of contract is. If you need a contract to have someone work with you and not let them out of the contract it is not going to be…
Fiona: Right! No, yeah, I agree… Look, Simone, I am very conscious of time, I know that you are a very busy person so why don’t we get to that last step and then we can let people know how they can get in touch with you. And I think we are, we have got a very special offer for our listeners as well. So let’s move along to that last final step?
Simone: Absolutely! Now look, module… step 5… step 6, sorry, I always call them modules, but step 6 is really about managing and leveraging the partnership ongoing. So you know, there is no such thing as “Happily Ever After”. They are not set and forget. If you want your “Happily Ever After”, you have got to keep working at it.
So.. and that means that… that’s just building on your relationship. It’s a fun thing, you know? That’s meeting regularly, going through the results… being really honest with one-another about what worked, what didn’t work, how you are both feeling about the partnership, how can you build on it, do more of what worked well, do less of what didn’t work well.
In some cases, you know, you might decide after a campaign that it was just a one campaign thing, and then if you need to end the relationship, you end it positively. So there is a successful way of ending things and it’s really important to go through that process. That’s something that we feel is equally as important as all the other steps.
Fiona: So I believe from our previous conversations, Simone, that you actually have a flow chart that explains these 6 steps?
Simone: We do! So we have an awesome process flow that takes you through each of the six steps. And it would be my pleasure to share that with your audience.
Simone: To do that you just need to go to our website, www.partneruphub.com.au and sign up for the six part series. We also have a free six part series, which is 6 videos and they are 10 minutes each and we have a few worksheets that we give you and as a bonus to your listeners we will give them this workflow as well.
Fiona: So how will you know that they have come through Super Savvy, Simone?
Simone: We will put a promotional code in. So you can choose what it is and we will set it up.
Fiona: So why don’t we just, for all the Super Savvy community, uh, when you go to claim this free offer from Simone at partneruphub.com… was that .com or .com.au ?
Simone: We’ve got both, but the .com.au…
Fiona: Uh, so where the promotional field is put __________ (Fiona spells it) and that way Simone will know that you have come through our community and you will be able to get access not just to the six module course Simone has, but also the workflow…sorry, the flow chart that she just mentioned.
But that is only accessible to the Super Savvy community — the flowchart.
Simone: Wonderful! It will be our pleasure.
Fiona: Thank you so much, Simone! Now, look, it has been my pleasure to hear about strategic alliances and how they can help to build businesses quickly, in a leveraged way…
Those 6 steps.. you know, I think anybody can walk away from listening to this podcast recording and go away and implement it.
We’d love to hear some feedback from you, so if you do go away and successfully implement, uh, some strategic alliances based on what you have learned today, please, you know, let Simone and I know either on our Facebook page or on our blogs because we love to hear these stories. This is what drives us as entrepreneurs and as mentors and coaches.
So Simone, I would just like to thank you yet again for giving your time. You know, it’s been an amazing recording as far as the amount of value that you have given away. We will definitely look forward to hearing from you again. You and I are already starting to talk more strategic alliances between Partner Up Hub and Super Savvy Business, aren’t we?
Simone: Absolutely! Practice what we preach.
Fiona: We certainly do. Okay guys, well this brings us to the end of our Super Savvy Business podcast for this week. My name is Fiona Soutter, we’ve had Simone Novello from Partner Up Hub with us today talking all about strategic alliances.
Please give us any feedback — we’d love to hear how you go implementing this information. Take care!