​Here’s to my first blog entry — and it’s not because of a resolution! I loathe New Year’s Resolutions because they often result in crushing disappointment. We set unrealistic goals that can’t be attained and we beat ourselves up when we don’t deliver. So, let me be clear, starting this blog is NOT a resolution. It’s a decision to share what I have learned in 20+ years as an expert in partnership marketing.

Why now? Because so often I see what is a right and a wrong way for brands to “partner.” First of all, let’s look at what a partnership actually means. Merriam-Webster’s defines it as “close cooperation between parties having specified and joint rights and responsibilities.”

The key word here is joint. Most of the time, I engage with clients or prospects or read about programs and find there is a huge misconception about what partnership marketing actually could achieve. More often than not, I find it’s missing the main component – ‘joint’ So hopefully with this blog, I can enlighten you on a few things or start a friendly dialog on the topic (comments welcome!)

One of the biggest ‘partnership’ events of the year is coming up soon – The Super Bowl – and it was the catalyst for this inaugural piece. I don’t mean those pricey ads that air for 15 seconds. I mean the big-ticket partnerships – where brands pay huge sums to claim the ‘Official Clam Chowder of The Super Bowl.’ In fact, writing that word may get me served a cease and desist. The reality is that most brands will throw money into a “partnership” when, in actuality, it’s just a big one-sided sponsorship in disguise.

​Straight up sponsorships are usually a brand paying for the privilege of a mention or to leverage an affiliation. However, most of these are negotiated and loosely referred to as partnerships, seldom delivering what is promised. Here’s three reasons why sponsorships are not partnerships:

  1. First, many times what you elect to sponsor is the same thing that has been peddled around to your competition. It’s cookie cutter and any brand can be slotted right in to make it work — or it is cobbled together to justify the fee and seldom executed in an optimal manner. It’s not unique to YOU.
  2. Secondly, there is no incentive for the sponsored property to find ways to make the partnership even better – to cut costs for you and even bring in additional partners that could increase your reach, impact and ROI. After the check clears, no one really cares HOW you are presented to the audience you’re trying to reach. Is it integrated, relevant, impactful? Usually not. Is it optimized in terms of cost efficiency and reach? Never.
  3. And lastly, your media assets are not recognized or factored into the equation. Your brand has built-in value that is not even considered when negotiating most partnerships. Your social media reach, your retail floor or window space, etc. are all media assets that can and should be monetized or at least taken into account as part of every deal.

So if you’ve read this far and are wondering, ”When is this guy going to tell us his New Year’s Resolution” (because you knew it was coming, right?). Well, I don’t have a resolution. All I can offer is this advice for 2017: Create true partnerships.

Start by looking for partners that can exchange media assets and properties IN LEIU of inflated media fees. Then, barter or create subsidized cost alliances – partnerships that mutually promote and add value to the campaign. Ensure everyone is using their proprietary assets for the common gain. Finally, don’t just accept scraps off the table – make sure a partnership is customized to maximize impact and value.

A true partnership should, at minimum, pay for itself. Additional Fun fact: for the average cost of one national sponsorship – average, not even Super Bowl media prices – you could have Regatta working 24-7 on your behalf for an entire year. Easily making back what you pay out (or your investment).

Maybe you can call this a resolution after all…. Or just a lifestyle change.