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Things aren’t made like they used to be.
A refrigerator used to last for two generations. Now, you’re lucky if your modern appliance lasts for a fraction of that time.
It can be hard to see the value in something you know you’ll have to replace in a handful of years or less. At times, it can feel like our strategic partnerships are going the way of the refrigerator.
Are your alliances - not to be confused with appliances - feeling stale or of little value?
Airship, formerly known as Urban Airship, sets an exceptional standard for demonstrating and maintaining the value of their strategic partnerships. In the latest episode of Alliance Aces, we had the opportunity to talk with Airship’s Senior Director of Global Alliances, Forest Yule.
In addition to a quick update on Airship’s status, Forest gave us four keys to revealing real value in strategic alliances.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…
… an Airship! As the first third-party deliverer of mobile push notifications on an iOS, Airship is on the up and up. Forest, who’s mainly in charge of recruitment and onboarding for strategic partners, made sure that we are aware of Airship’s recent rebrand.
While moving from Urban Airship to just Airship may not seem like a big feat, there are many moving parts involved with a rebrand of this magnitude. Working on an international basis can easily slow the rebranding process if the best communication processes are not in place.
Fortunately, Airship’s rapport with its international clientele is in tip-top shape, making the name change a relatively smooth transition. In fact, Airship’s worldwide reputation is in such good standing that Forest has the luxury of referred partners reaching out to him as opposed to the other way around. Isn’t that the dream?
This leads us into the first key to demonstrating value in strategic alliances: Coordinate across resources.
1. Coordinate Across All Resources
To obtain all the potential value of a strategic partnership, it’s essential to use all resources available.
Forest’s favorite model to visualize the flow of demand generation is the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall. This flow chart demonstrates how a prospect can move through the stages of qualification, resulting in an agreement.
Looking at this chart, you can see that a prospect is coming in contact with multiple degrees of qualification. All departments of an organization have to sync in order to move prospects through the flow chart efficiently.
The Demand Waterfall is a great launchpad for your organization to test out processes that work specifically for you. Don’t be afraid to alter a best practice if it will work better for your alliances.
Using all of your organization’s resources in harmony with one another is the first key to finding real value in your strategic partnerships.
2. Create a Living Document
To ensure value within your alliances, have a thorough plan in place for each. Forest emphasizes the importance of setting meaningful objectives in a living document that’s completely visible to all who are involved.
Too many times partnerships can feel stale due to lofty objectives. Forest suggests making plans as granular as possible. This mindset can make the objectives feel less high-level and more obtainable.
Furthermore, giving all stakeholders access to the living document will hold everyone more accountable and promote transparency on all levels. The plan’s transparency will also decrease busywork and miscommunication thanks to the ability to see updates in real-time.
Thoughtful planning leads us into the next key: Keep a pulse.
3. Keep a Pulse on Partnerships
In addition to careful planning, the alliance objectives should be analyzed at least once every week by your team. Since your objectives are granular, there should be progress made each week to serve the overarching goals of your partnership. Having an ongoing pulse of the living document will rejuvenate the value your team first saw in the alliance on a regular basis.
Next, be sure to use the living document in check-in meetings with your partners. The plan should be woven into every aspect of the project to ensure documentation of all progress and future goals. To see the most value out of your partnerships, the living document needs to be kept fresh and revisited often.
4. Measure, measure, measure
This key may be the most crucial for continually finding value in your alliances. Forest stresses that all actions - even before you enter into an agreement - need to be data-driven.
Before analytics were as accessible as they are today, it was difficult to measure the impact of marketing efforts. If there were ever cutbacks, it was the marketing department who saw the losses. The fact of the matter was, it was easier to see the more tangible outcomes from sales.
Today, there’s no excuse for untracked metrics. CMOs have bigger budgets than ever because the uncertainty of the effects of marketing is no longer present. We’re able to prove that marketing efforts drive revenue.
By measuring the impact of your initiatives, all the bespoke keys are possible to fulfill; value is reinstated into your strategic partnerships. Plus, the results of one partner plan can quickly ignite another. You might even find yourself in Forest’s shoes with qualified referrals directly contacting you.
What We Learned
Forest provided us with some great insights from a global alliance position. If you feel your strategic partnerships going stale, try implementing the four keys we learned about today:
Coordinate across all resources
Create a living document
Keep a pulse on partnerships
Measure, measure, measure
Uncover the real value that you first saw in your strategic alliances.