From Amazon and Whole Foods to Google and Wal-Mart, a number of high-profile business partnerships are shaking up the entrepreneurial world this year. Thanks to rapidly changing technology and constant innovation that trend is expected to continue.
In the past, companies could invest heavily in their own development and marketing departments and remain at the top of their fields. That’s no longer true. Now, if you want to be a front-runner, you have to collaborate creatively with an eye toward growth.
Ikea, for instance, recently purchased TaskRabbit, a freelance gig site that matches individuals with jobs, including handyman and installation work. This is a synergetic and insightful alliance for Ikea, who will likely grab more of the U.S. furniture market now that it can provide its loyal base with affordable furniture and a squadron of freelancers ready to make at-home assembly easier than ever.
Capitalizing on Niche Collaborations
Mergers and acquisitions aren’t the only ways to collaborate for success, however. In today’s world, near-instant innovation means what worked to garner attention yesterday may not work today. Companies that want to stay ahead of the curve can strategically position themselves for growth by aligning with specialized powerhouses whose only job is to stay up-to-date in their specific areas of expertise.
Take the fitness tracking company Fitbit for example. Last month, the company announced a partnership with the medical manufacturing company Dexcom that will enable Fitbit to offer glucose monitoring on its Ionic Smartwatch. As more consumers express an increased desire for wearable health trackers, the alliance could help Fitbit increase its share of the device market and remain a competitive alternative to the Apple Watch without expending unnecessary funds on internal development.
Niche collaborations are particularly effective when it comes to IT, social media, marketing and development, as it enables traditional companies to capitalize on emerging technologies and user trends. Lead generation, for example, is a science-based, formula-driven process that few business-to-consumer companies implement effectively. Partnering with a lead generation services firm or an online marketing team enables businesses without a sales focus to capitalize on their brand without moving their focus from what they do best – providing their product or service.
Steps for an Effective Alliance
- Prioritize Your Market. Any collaboration between your company and another is only as effective as that company’s ability to serve your target market. If a potential partner doesn’t have demonstrated experience speaking to, designing for or working with your main demographic, keep looking for a company that does. It’s the only way to ensure development and marketing efforts remain on point.
- Align Your Visions. Ideal partnerships create a win-win for everyone involved. Misaligned or competing visions can jeopardize this arrangement by fostering inauthentic messaging, which alienates the market and repels potential customers. Partnering with a company that speaks the same language as you – and works toward the same goal – will help protect your brand positioning.
- Verbalize Expectations. Communication is key to any successful partnership. Confirm the what, why and how of the collaboration at every stage in the arrangement. Verifying expectations from the beginning reduces administrative overhead and enables everyone to focus on what matters: results.