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4 Components of a Strong Strategic Partnership

November 10, 2017

As part of an overall marketing plan, strategic partnerships can expand your target audience, strengthen your company’s reputation, and scale your business. However, a poorly executed approach with the wrong partner could be devastating to your brand. Take a page from the Sterling-Jets partnership playbook to learn the core elements you should build into your plan and see how the major players in the partnership applied this approach. 

Clarify Objectives

Whether your goal is to enhance offerings, lower costs, or double your customer base, discussing objectives with a potential partner will greatly increase the likelihood for success. The exercise ensures everyone is aligned with well-defined expectations and makes it easier to meet benchmarks for success. 

“A key objective of ours in partnering with the NY Jets was to differentiate ourselves from other financial institutions as the premier regional bank in the Greater New York metro area. Through this partnership, we are able to enhance our business relationships through exclusive game-day experiences and networking opportunities offered through the Jets Partner Alliance.”

—Ray Guanlao, Team Leader Senior Managing Director, Sterling National Bank

Establish Mutual Benefit

Working together with your potential partner, define the mutual vision of success to ensure equal benefit. How can each party utilize the strengths of the other? What does each organization bring to the partnership and what core competencies can be shared with the other? 

“Utilizing the strength of the NFL brand and the attractiveness of our stadium and our B2B platform, we offer unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences to help Sterling with tangible means to effectuate business.” 

—Ian Lasher, SVP Corporate Partnerships, New York Jets

Examine Core Values

Misaligned values may be the single most destructive element to a strategic partnership. Not to be mistaken with image or branding, which can produce some healthy and innovative alliances between vastly different companies, core values are those qualities that define the way your business approaches clients, vendors, finances, and strategy. It is the foundation on which all decisions are made and the glue that holds your
organization together. 

“Sterling’s five core values are High Achievement, Accountability, Initiative, Collaboration, and Integrity. There is no better example of an organization that shares the same values than the Jets Franchise.”

—David Bagatelle, Executive Vice President & President-New York Metro Markets, Sterling National Bank

Identify Common Audiences

Your ideal strategic partner should have a similar target audience as yours—or one that you would like to capture. Make sure you are in sync with how you view your target audience and how you want them to see you. 

“We look at all our partnerships to make sure there is an authenticity and respect for our fan base. That New York moxie has been a part of the Jets brand since the beginning. We love it when we can align that branding with partners like Sterling.” 

—Seth Rabinowitz, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Fan Engagement, New York Jets

Sponsorship vs. Partnership: What’s the Difference? 

Organizations often mistakenly use sponsorship and partnership interchangeably, but the two terms are quite different. Take a look:

> A business sponsorship exists when an organization provides payment (whether financial or in-kind) in exchange for promotional exposure.
This relationship can be highly effective, but tends not to leverage the full power of two companies working together for mutual benefit.

> Strategic partnerships are mutually beneficial beyond pay-for-placement advertising and involve companies that collaborate to achieve compatible objectives.