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What Do You Mean Partnership?

February 21, 2009

Like the words ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m a marketing consultant’ – or perhaps even, ‘yes, I’ll be home early’ – the term Partnership is one of the most abused in our language. As somebody who has worked in partnership / collaboration marketing for more than 10 years, I have been approached so many times by agencies, media organisations and colleagues saying ‘we would like to set up a partnership’. The question that always stumps many is, ‘what do you mean by that and what does it look like’. There then follows a lot of waffle, and if it is involved in the internet, a lot of meaningless technical fluffery. What often people mean is something that could be better explained by a better noun. So for example; ‘we would like you to be a sponsor’, or ‘we would like you to advertise with us’ – or ‘we want to manage a new supplier’. My definition of partner has been consistent, and learnt from the relationship expertise of Tony Lendrun. A partership enables a competitive advantage that is difficult, expensive if not impossible to replace. And quite simply, the more unique and powerful the benefit you can gain, then the more justified in treating it as a partership. Unfortunately, we then have the confusion of how does managing a partership, differ from managing a supplier or customer. But that’s another story.

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