As startup founders, the phrase ‘Partnership Outreach’ seems like a challenging goal to obtain. We all know how that feels.
You may be thinking, “how can a small startup like mine, attract big organisations out there to partner with us?” You can definitely find numerous guidelines and templates on how to reach out to partners online. But it is vital that you know how to approach these guidelines.
It is like saying “You need to do research to find out more.” But where do you find your research? What do you research on? What do you need to do after you have done your research?
We are here to help answer some of these questions for you.
This article will share with you what are some platforms you can use, some examples you can refer to and what you should do after taking the first step.
What you need to know about partnership outreach
All of this may sound intuitive and easy. But partnership outreach is more than just a step-by-step way of reaching companies for publicity.
It is important to note that every organisation is different. From their mission statements, values, strengths, weaknesses, wants, needs (and so on).
So, you need to know the important 5 W’s and 1 H (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How) before you approach anyone.
If you take action with a blank canvas, be prepared to leave the room feeling disappointed and empty handed.
Convinced now that you need to do something about it? Here’s how you can start.
1. Good planning is key
Every business process begins with the ‘Why’. Before you start anything, think about why you want to have a partnership? What is the end goal you wish to achieve?
By figuring out the ‘Why’ on your end, you can then start to plan on who you really want to reach out to promote your business.
This is where you figure out the ‘What’. What kind of working relationship do you want to achieve with your partners?
It is always good to look out for potential partners whom you want to have a longer working relationship with as opposed to a short publicity collaboration.
Having a good long-term working relationship is beneficial for both parties because:
- Both companies have each other’s logos and artworks (this makes it a lot easier when it comes to helping out with company publicity for a new product or campaign)
- It will be easier to help each other accomplish the company goals and objectives overtime
- Both companies will be more knowledgeable about each other’s wants, needs and plans (this will help in terms of planning for each other’s publicity strategies)
Timing is key too! ‘When’ should you approach potential partners?
It is beneficial to reach out early to partners as well as we can then rope them into the early stages of the project.
By reaching out early to your potential partners, it is easier to get them to take part in your project or campaign. For instance, if you are doing a product launch, you can invite them to take part or give a short speech during a launch. This will make them feel more involved in the entire process.
2. Know your audience well
Here is a quick question for you: do you know ‘Who’ to approach for a partnership?
If your answer is no, you need to start doing your research now.
Research on the organisations whom you think have the same mission and goals as your company! It would be more beneficial if the potential partners are from the same or related industry as your company is. Both companies will have an additional source of knowledge and expertise. And on the flip side, one company can provide something the other company cannot, while supporting each other.
Sometimes, the potential partners need not belong in the same industry as your company!
A good example would be Reebok’s partnership with findSisterhood, an anonymous social network for women. Reebok release their #BeMoreHuman campaign during the same period when findSisterhood launched their new app. Both parties had a common goal of empowering women and showcasing their strengths. Though they are from different industries, they managed to establish a good partnership.
After you have eyed on a few organisations, you need to deep dive further into these organisations. Find out what they do. Do their mission statements, values and ethos align with your company’s too?
Never approach any potential partner you want to approach without doing your homework. Imagine approaching the potential partner only to realise that both parties’ goals and values are apples and oranges.
It will also be good to provide value to your potential partners. Show them what they can benefit from this potential partnership. Why do businesses want to have partnerships? So that there can be a mutual win-win situation for both parties. That is what you need to show them.
You need to consider how you can help your potential partners grow from their business. Think about what are their strengths and weaknesses. And what opportunities and threats they are facing. From there, you can think about how your company can help them through value-adding.
We can look at Spotify and Uber’s partnership as an example. Spotify (an audio streaming service) and Uber (transport service provider) are companies from two different industries. Spotify wanted to give their listeners another avenue to enjoy music and Uber wanted to make riding experiences more enjoyable. Both companies established a partnership because their strengths add values to their needs and weaknesses.
3. Be product-ready
Now we will focus on the ‘How’ aspect.
Always be prepared to present something to the organisations you are approaching. If you are going to launch a product or publish a new book, make sure there is a prototype or draft ready for viewing. Then present it well with a good selling point.
Explain how your product is goal-aligned and can benefit the potential partners if they help with publicity.
This not only saves time for potential partners but also makes sure that what is being publicised will be what the Difference Engine team wants to share.
There isn’t one fixed model template for such email body texts. In fact, there are too many that you can easily find on Google. Every email body text you draft would be different depending on your recipient.
I highly recommend that you don’t draft your emails based on online templates. But there are definitely examples of badly written cold email body texts and good ones which I feel are worthy to share.
This is an example of a badly written email to a potential partner.
An example of a badly written email body text
What can we learn from reading this email body text?
- There are too few details and little to no value-added for the recipient (the email subject and body is merely talking about the sender’s business profile. They were not focusing on how they can help the recipient’s business)
- Too much presumptuous statements (this sender is assuming that the recipient is already interested in doing a partnership with them)
What about a good email body text then?
- Make your email subject eye-catching (Capture your recipient’s attention quick)
- Craft your message in a way that you want your recipients to phrase when they publicise your products (So that they can simply use the same text easily when they publicise your product)
- Keep your email body short and simple (your potential partners may be busy and won’t have the time to read through your novel-long email)
- Add a hint of humour in your email text (Studies have shown that emails with humour received a 46% open rate)
4. Use your networks
Now we will focus on ‘Where’ do you want to start looking for potential partners?
Undoubtedly, the best approach for the first attempt is to use your existing networks.
Get your friends and colleagues to provide you with recommendations on potential partners! Or if you have a particular company you wish to reach out to, try searching the company on LinkedIn. You can see if you have any mutual connections working there who can help you.
But don’t stop there! Draft a good direct message or email to your mutual connection. Or even ask them out for a meal (because there is always something appealing about the in-person interaction). Remember to make sure that you make your intentions clear and value-adding.
Nick Smoot, the co-founder and CEO of Here on Biz even suggested utilising the LinkedIn feature which shows you on who viewed your profile. It will give you a hint on whether you have caught their attention when approaching them!
5. Have a good mindset and attitude
Throughout this whole process, having a good mindset and attitude is crucial!
Not everyone whom you have approached will be your partner. Every organisation you approached is an experience you went through. The key is to be patient and forward-moving!
Just keep approaching and trying. Eventually, you will meet the right partners who will help you.
It is also important to constantly have a good mindset throughout the entire process. Never feel discouraged from small roadblocks and rejections! The key is to always be confident when you are reaching out to partners. Remember this popular saying:
“If you don’t appear to believe in what you are presenting, then no one else will.”
Every startup has their own approach when it comes to partnership outreach for publicity. Success does not happen overnight. It takes thorough planning, execution and realisation to understand what really works for your company.
There are many online guidelines out there to help you get started. We hope that this article will serve as a fuelling guide for startup companies to take the next step towards partnership outreach.
Potato Productions is here to help you! We don’t just tell stories and opinions. We share with you what we have gone through and what we have learnt. To find out more about startup related content, do check out our Potato website, and blog for more information!