After the initial success of Small Business Saturday in 2010, American Express elected to open up the program in 2011 to other companies who supported small businesses. Designed to create a Black Friday-like effect for Small Businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, one of the brands that joined in the fun was Optimum Business, the B2B arm of Cablevision. Here is my interview with Stephanie Anderson, Vice President, Marketing & Advertising, Commercial Markets at Cablevision, with some great advice on how to make the most out of marketing partnerships.
DN: What is the best case scenario for a marketing partnership?
The best case scenario for a marketing partnership is a having a common customer, goal and market. It is also important that money never change hands between partners – no referral fees, no reseller incentives. Partners do not write partners checks.
DN: The Optimum Business Benefits program seems like a win/win/win for your brand, your partners and your customers. Are there any risk or downsides to marketing partnerships?
The Optimum Business Benefits program is a win for our brand, partners and customers. It is important to choose your partners wisely because they become an extension of your brand so you need to be very sure before you agree to partner and market that partnership.
Risks tend to come if you haven’t chosen a partner carefully or your goals are misaligned. That’s why it’s crucial to consider: Can they offer something unique to your customers? Do they stand for the same things as your company and program? Do they have the same values? You need to remember that if your customer has a bad experience with one of your partners, it reflects on your company.
DN: Are there any tricks to making the most of a marketing partnership? Why do some work better than others?
Yes! Making the most of any partnership requires clearly identifying common goals from the outset, measuring success consistently and holding each other accountable. You must regularly communicate with your partner about progress, challenges and next steps. Leave out this necessary component and the partnership simply won’t work.
It’s also important to know your partners well. You should understand where they fit both within their corporation and the industry as a whole. From a broader perspective, you might be able to provide additional value through the creation of a partner advisory network to give them a collective voice and solicit new ideas. This will come in handy when there are challenges to overcome. Never meet a customer or a partner for the first time under difficult circumstances – know your partners personally.
DN: Would you recommend that other marketers consider joining this kind of multi-brand program and if so, what should they do to get the most out of it?
Companies interested in joining a multi-brand program should be vocal and outgoing in terms of marketing support for the program. The best part about multi-brand programs is that you can align with, not only the lead brand, but other companies involved and create new opportunities, offers and messages. We have seen some of our biggest successes from grassroots activities and campaigns and recommend that all of the participating companies really engage to get the benefits. Get in the field, get your sales people to understand the value from the beginning and make it a part of their sales training and their sales programs. And, of course, it is important to check in, measure and build relationships.