Search results - 6 results found for 'partnership'

Partner Jam: When Partnerships Go Wrong (4/4)

Partner Jam wraps up this week with perhaps the most common concern. Jeremy and I ask each other (and answer): What happens when parterships don’t go as planned? Is there any way to save the relationship?




There are (at least) two ways for a partnership to go wrong. One is where the parties don’t deliver what they were supposed to deliver or deliver the wrong thing or deliver the right thing at the wrong time. The other is where everyone does their part but the deal doesn’t deliver the benefits that the partners were hoping for.

The only way to deal productively with missed deadlines or deliverables is to be clear on timing and specs before the partnership launches since nothing can be objectively “late” or “wrong” without deadlines and standards. At some point in the deal process the parties need to lay out in writing what will be delivered and when. Having clear benchmarks will simplify conversations about whether things have gone wrong, what can be done about it, and how to value any specific misstep.

If a deal is not generating the type of value that the partners anticipated, the first thing to do is test the assumptions that were made about the deal in the face of real-world facts. If you identify a deal component that’s not working as you assumed it would, you can try to come up with fixes. If all your assumptions were right but you actually failed to identify a component, you can try to come up with fixes for that previously unknown component and, as a bonus, you’ll learn something valuable about your business.


Do the exact opposite of what people normally do. In other words, deal with it proactively. It’s important not to be accusational or make assumptions. Instead, ask questions like:

  • When do you expect xyz to happen?
  • Is there anything you need from me?
  • Is there any reason why we couldn’t finish that by the end of the week?

Make sure your partner has all the information as early as possible in the process, whether it’s assets to design a webpage or being aware of your client’s expectation for the project.

Can’t get enough? View all Partnership blog posts!

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Partner Jam: Determining What You Have to Offer in a Business Partnership (3/4)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time again for Partner Jam! (cue applause)

This week, Jeremy and I spar on partnership equality. When you’re creating a deal with a valuable partner, it may feel like you don’t have enough to offer, but the solution is to get creative. Take a second look at your resources to increase your value and leverage a better partnership.

What are some low-cost or low-effort things you can build into a deal, especially when it seems like you don’t have anything to offer in return?


Deal sweeteners will always be case-specific but there are a couple things to keep in mind as you try to think through what might work.

Remember the cereal aisle. Grocery stores put a lot of time and thought into how they arrange their shelves. For instance, kid-friendly products are at kid-eye level which makes them more likely to be picked up and bought. The lesson is that a partner’s performance can be strongly influenced by decisions entirely within your discretion and control. Offering the partner some influence over those important decisions is a truly powerful deal sweetener.

Concierge service. Everybody likes to be treated like a VIP so look for ways to treat the partner or the business opportunities they send your way in a special way. This could range from high-touch on-boarding to a higher level of customer support to early access to new features.


Connections are always your most valuable asset. A single introduction could lead to an amazing opportunity. Everyone has connections – put yourself in your partner’s shoes and think through your contacts: who might be able to help them move forward? And of course, the best thing is to ASK: what do they need most?

Social media shout outs are always good trades that are easy to do and track. Comps to an event. Free baby-sitting. Just kidding. Well, kind of… I’ve done that before. Don’t tell anyone.

Last Week: Partnership Equality
Next Week: When Partnerships Go Wrong

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Partner Jam: Creating Equal Business Partnerships (2/4)

In our second installment of Partner Jam, Jeremy Schwartz and I weigh in on equal weight:

How do you make sure business partnerships are equal, especially when there is no money involved?

JEREMY: The key is recognizing that money is valuable only because it is easy to exchange for other things. Put differently, money is a means to a business end; it is not the end itself.

So if you want to do a deal but nobody wants to lay out actual cash you should ask yourself two questions: (1) If I received money from this deal, to which ends would I use it? (2) Is this partner able to deliver any of the ends which I’d otherwise plan to achieve by spending cash?

The answer to question (1) should be an easy one if you have a good handle of your business and your business model. Question number (2) is much harder and you can only answer it when you have a good understanding of who your prospective partner and the types of non-cash value they can provide. Great social presence? They can do some marketing. Great relationships? They can make some introductions. Great design? They can spruce up your logo.

CIARA: It’s vital to write out exactly what is expected of each party. When things are in black and white, it’s easier to see if one party is carrying more weight. If elements of the partnership carry value, ie free show tickets or comped advertising, do the math and make sure it’s equitable. You can apply numbers to most in-kind products and services which definitely helps.

Last Week: Building Strong Relationships
Next Week: Sweetening the Deal

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Partner Jam: Building Strong Relationships with Potential Business Partners (1/4)

Announcing a very special series: Jeremy Schwartz of Squarespace, blogger and business growth savant, has generously offered to do a blog jam session with me on the topic of strategic partnerships.

Jeremy is one of those people who makes doing business even better. He’s smart, he’s well-connected, he has a diverse background, and above all, he’s kind and generous. Exactly the kind of business (and blog) partner an entrepreneur strives to know – and become.

For the next four weeks, we’ll post our best, most useful advice on building strong partnerships that can build your business. Enjoy!


Hey Jeremy! How do you meet and build relationships with your best partners?

Given that you can’t partner with someone who does exactly what you do, it’s important to find opportunities to meet people who are different than you. One way to do this is to attend networking events outside of your industry. It’s great for an insurance broker to know all the other insurance brokers in her neighborhood; it’s even better for her to know all the realtors in her neighborhood.

Once you’ve met someone, building a relationship will be about developing sincere and long-term connections. Here’s how I do it: I ask questions when I meet people, I pay close attention to their answers, and I make notes about the people I meet. Taking notes is the key step in developing continuity in relationships when weeks or months go by between contact.

Ciara! What about you? How do you meet your potential partners?

Definitely through my other best partners. Not all audience is created equal; every professional or business should identify its MVPs: the people who go out of their way to connect you, to promote you, to sell for you. These are the people who get personal updates from me, event invites, holiday gifts. Good people run in the same circles as other good people. Then we go out of our way to reciprocate favors like intros or cross-promotion.

Next Up: Making Sure Partnerships are Equal – Tuesday 11/18. Stay tuned!

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CITIBIKE: A Lesson in Brand Sponsorship Measurement

The Mayoress on a CitibikeI am turning into the unofficial spokesperson for Citibike, New York City’s brand new bike sharing program sponsored by Citibank. It’s only halfway into day 3 of Member Preview Week and I’ve already taken a bike out 10 times, including back-to-back riding on Monday where I got more thumbs-up from total strangers than when I wear my infamous flag dress on the 4th of July. What is this, Amsterdam? No, it’s NYC without being restricted to the increasingly stifling subway or decreasingly available taxis, being able to get from Bowery to Avenue C in under five minutes, and, I’ll be honest, the return of wearing heels to work.

And as with most things, I can flip this into a teachable marketing moment: clearly Citibike is getting huge brand exposure through this sponsorship. But how does a brand approach sponsorship evaluation, and once it’s engaged, measure a return on its investment?

Citibike App - Impressions on my iPhone!

Citibike App – Impressions on my iPhone!

The answer, in a word, is IMPRESSIONS. An impression is every time a person sees your brand. I see your logo once, that’s one impression. I see it 10 times today, that’s 10 impressions. I see it and point it out to my friend, it’s 2 impressions. Eight million New Yorkers see your logo 10 times throughout the day, that’s 80 million impressions. Now we’re talking major exposure.

Of course, you probably can’t estimate impressions exactly, but making educated estimates and assigning a value to each impression is the starting point. The idea being that it takes 10 or so times of seeing a brand for it to even register on someone’s conscious radar; with saturation having obvious benefits. As of Monday, I certainly notice Citibank branches more. I changed my mind about closing my Citibank account. On the flip, if the bikes become a debacle: vandalized, increase accidents, or native New Yorkers are not happy about losing her street parking (shout out, Stacy!), the impressions can have a negative effect.

Citibikes Everywhere

Citi Logo Impression Mania!

How does this apply to your business?  If you’re trying to attract sponsorship* you’ll need to create a numbers story about how much exposure that brand stands to get through your event or campaign. It’s also how we measure success after the fact – creating reports on impressions from marketing materials to website visits to social media reach to media coverage.  Pay attention to impressions and you’ll begin to understand how to create equitable partnerships that are a win-win for both sides.

*Sign up for DIYPR: Publicity Bootcamp and I’ll teach you how to leverage impression measurement to pitch sponsors and strategic partners for your events.


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Be Smarter About Barter

Everyone loves to get something for free – especially those of us on a tight budget.

It can seem like a dream when a friend offers a professional service for free or a swap – I’ll design your website if you redecorate my apartment – but as with most things, “free” can be fraught.

In all things professional and transactional, clarify the terms in advance:  How long will it take to complete?  What exactly is the deliverable?  Who owns the final product?  What happens if one party can’t deliver?  Are the dollar or time values of swapped services equal?

When two companies create a partnership that involves something-for-something, there should always be a contract outlining exactly what will happen, how much of it will happen, and when.  Usually, some sort of concrete outline should also happen with professional favors between solopreneurs, artists, and friends.  It’s not being an asshole; it’s managing expectations so no one feels like they were taken advantage of later on.

You often get what you pay for, so if it’s free, proceed with caution and clarity.

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