I watched the VMAs last night, and the talk of the night was the Kanye West debacle with Taylor Swift. For those who didn’t see the Twitter trend, Taylor Swift won the award for best female video. During her speech, Kanye West took the microphone, and proceeded to go on and on about how Beyonce’s video is one of the best of the decade. Needless to say, Taylor Swift was about to cry, Beyonce was embarrassed, and the entire audience was angry. So, what does all of this have to do with co-branding, affiliates, and partners? Kanye West is about to start his tour with Lady Gaga… and guess what? After Kanye’s screw up, Lady Gaga may see her tour ticket sales plummet as well, as audiences attempt to boycott Kanye. This is a long story to say, “Choose wisely!”
Know and trust your partners. It may seem obvious, but you need to take the time to get to know a potential partner. Do your research! How do they treat their customers? Are they financially stable? Are they ethical? You wouldn’t trust your children with a complete stranger, so why would you trust your company reputation with a company that you don’t know?
Don’t alienate your target audience. Companies work hard to build a brand that their customers relate to, and it only takes one bad partnership to alienate your customers. When choosing to co-brand or partner with another company or non-profit, consider the value-add to your customers. Does the potential partner have a complimentary product or service? Do they support a cause that your company and customers are passionate about? Partnerships should be strategic moves that benefit the customer, not short-term endeavors to increase cash flow.
Do it big. If you’re gonna go for it, go for it whole-heartedly! Work with your partner or affiliate to develop a sustainable strategy, and share your resources to accomplish your mutual goals. Take time to understand their products, services, and customers, and let your customers know about the new partnership. If you seem hesitant about your new strategy, your customers will also be hesitant, so show them a united front.
In this economic climate, strategic partnerships can be the key to survival. But be smart about it, and don’t let someone like Kanye crash your ticket sales!