The Value of Partnerships
8/24/2010 1:00 PM
We like to think that we are partners with our clients. In fact, this is so important to us that we usually start our pitch to potential clients stressing this fact. Unfortunately, the word “partnership” has been thrown around so often and so carelessly that it ceased to have much meaning. To us, partnership means to be integrally involved in the business of our clients. We would like to be the “marketing arm” of our clients; we would like to share in the success (and failures) of our clients. Admittedly, this does not happen often. However, when it does and the opportunity avails itself, the synergetic effects are astounding.
Recently we have an opportunity to form a partnership with one of long term clients, Koelnmesse. Koelnmesse is one of the world’s leading organizers of industry trade shows. A year ago, they came to us and expressed the desire to start a new trade show in the US. However, they are unsure of which industry, vertical or target segment they want to penetrate. They are looking for an entirely new show to develop. In essence, they are asking us to assist them to create a new revenue of income for the company.
We spent six months doing our own research at our own expense before we proposed a few recommendations. These plans include primary and secondary market research, audience statistics and data, potential exhibition names, positioning of the show, logos and taglines of the event etc. We have invested over 200 people-hours of research, development and creative design. The eventual outcome of all that work is MobileAppEx – the B2B Mobile Application trade show and conference.
Why are we willing to put in all this initial effort pro bono? Mainly because we have a long standing relationship with Koelnmesse, and they believe in our abilities and treat us as partners. We have some confidence that this investment in time and effort will eventually result in greater rewards for both companies. Hence we do what we do and we do it well. Admittedly, we will not do this for all our clients (indeed, we have turned away a few proposals of similar nature). It depends on the client’s relationship with us, but ideally this is the kind of relationship we aspire to.
The point is that if you are a company working with an agency, it is worth your while to consider treating them as more than just "vendors". Because if it is a long relationship, the investment made by the agency to know about your company can be leveraged effectively to propel your company forward. Of course, this assumes that you work with a proactive agency that is willing to put in the time to know you.
On the other end, if you are an agency, it may be worth your while to get to know your client better and be aware of their business needs (not just their marketing/advertising needs). Most companies view success by how much they make in revenue, not how effective the marketing campaign is. Yes, they are both related, but not always. It is important to understand the difference and work towards that.
The planning of MobileAppEx trade show and conference started in July 2010 and cumulates in July 2011. We are confident that this will be an amazing success. So confident that we took a percentage of the revenue as part of our compensation. This is known in the VC world as "skin in the game". You must be willing to have a stake in the project.
Perhaps you would be interested in looking at a small part of what we did - the proposed naming convention of this trade show and the rationale of the these names. You might appreciate the amount of work we invested in this project even before it was approved.
#webdevelopment #marketing #strategy