5 Steps (and 3 Pitfalls) for Building Strategic Corporate Partnerships
4. Create your menu of options. Having a menu of options for your partners, as well as your programs, allows you to quickly engage them on many levels, Mendenhall said. It lets them know that there is more than one way to support your organization.
Creating a menu of options also helps you prepare for first contact with a new corporate partner. You can think beyond what you need from a partner and get their perspective about you can offer them. The key is to listen to the company's needs and identify which things on your menu can best address them, Mendenhall said. (For an example of a menu of options, see image 2 to the right.)
5. Sustain your relationships. "It's easier to create new partnerships than to sustain them," Mendenhall said. So you must take steps to sustain your relationships and keep that corporate support coming.
Mendenhall and Kinckle provided a list of ways to do that:
- write joint press releases
- share progress reports
- invite partners to board meetings
- think outside the box
- create VIP experiences
- provide updates on new opportunities
- request advice
- introduce partners to people who benefit from your programs
- involve leadership
- send handwritten cards
- send articles
"Over-deliver whenever you can," Mendenhall said. "Exceed commitments to corporate partners. It's always a good idea to under-promise and over-deliver."
"Invite partners to your special events, and show up at their events too," Kinckle added. "Make them feel like they're a part of the organization. At the end of the day, we do want to feel like a part of the organization."
To wrap up their portion of the session, Mendenhall and Kinckle shared three pitfalls to avoid:
- Ensure all levels of the organizations know who your corporate partners are and what those relationships entail. "Nothing is more embarrassing than someone contacting a corporate partner without knowing that they've worked with you before," Kinckle said.
- Beware of under-delivering on commitments. "That's why it's always better to under-promise and overdeliver," Mendenhall said.
- Don't get too comfortable. Recurring corporate support is not a given in this day and age. If you get too comfortable and forget to nurture those relationships, they can dry up quickly.
Check back for part 3 on building strategic corporate partnerships.