Looking from a consumer’s perspective one may initially presume that if he or she needs to hire help to build a new website and to market it correctly, all one needs to do is choose a design company of his preference and let them do the job. From a service provider’s perspective, depending on the company or design professional, a new project can be developed without much input from the client. Naturally, that project will lack a lot of crucial data about the business it is attempting to market and the client will surely have missed the opportunity to have its voice heard by their audience. From our perspective, strategic partnerships make much more sense as they have always been a critical strategy for businesses looking to grow in unfamiliar markets, tap new customer segments, or sell additional products or services.
They have always been tricky to make work even in today’s hyper-competitive, hyper-connected marketplace, where partnerships have taken on even greater strategic importance and complexity. Both business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies are in an arms race to develop innovative user experiences, expand channels of distribution, and capture new sources of monetization. Digital marketing leaders are discovering that their future depends not just on what their own companies can do, but on the capabilities, functions, channels, and insights they can tap by partnering with affiliated stakeholders.
What does it mean to form alliances to develop a strategic plan and execute its course of actions? Through our work with existing clients and in thoughtful discussions with our peers we’ve reached some conclusions about strategic partnerships between businesses and the digital marketing firm of the future.
The benefits of such partnerships include:
Being more cost-effective by pooling together resources like marketing experience and talent.
Sharing audiences of similar people who are already qualified as potential customers.
Creating and fostering a positive long-term relationship between brands as they help each other out.
When a client contacts us, they usually have a very small digital marketing presence or at least one they are not satisfied with. There are no systems in place to track results of their marketing efforts and most importantly no system to track their analytical data in general. Others may already have automated workflows, tracking tools and analytics but are often unsure on how to use them.
It is clear that a digital marketing strategy for lead capture and a better understanding of their audiences’ wants and needs are required in order to help the client meet their goals and allow them to gain additional long-term benefits and brand awareness. But how is that accomplished exactly?
INNOVATION THROUGH COLLABORATION
Professionals can rarely reimagine new themes business designs and marketing strategies for a digital world within their own four walls. Be as a result of joint ventures, acquisitions, strategic investments, or ad hoc collaborations, partnerships are essential to scaling the talent, investments, and other innovation-focused resources required to support transformational new businesses, products, and user experiences.
NO SINGLE DESIGN COMPANY HAS A LOCK ON USER TASTES
Consumers are moving targets. Companies need to realize they don’t have all the killer insights or data by themselves and must engage with others that have complementary information assets. Partners are now essential to building market advantage through superior knowledge capital, and robust information exchange is fast becoming the new normal for high-performing strategic partnerships.
FOCUSING ON GREAT USER EXPERIENCE
In the modern environment, most valuable partnerships are built around creating great user experiences, not just exchanging value between companies. Embracing this approach requires a human-centered design emphasis that pushes the partnership to solve a real user problem, versus concentrating entirely on transactional benefits.
A BALANCE BETWEEN SCALE AND CUSTOMIZATION
Creating strategic partnerships can be challenging, because partners will typically have different approaches to a project. Developing a partnering approach that combines scalability (maximum reach) with low-cost customization (something special for website visitors) is critical. Here, designing technology and tools such as apps and software development kits around specific functionality objectives can give your company’s web project a broader and longer-term advantage.
TREATING PARTNERSHIP LIKE YOUR BUSINESS
Too many strategic partnerships never come close to achieving their intended outcomes. Why? The partners never dedicate the resources and ongoing commitment needed to drive meaningful end results. Achieving success with joint web development & design collaboration is hard work. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. To get it right, you have to run the partnership more like a true business and less like a deal.
The strategic importance of reinventing approaches to partnerships cannot be understated. As visitors jump from website to website with increasing speed, and traditional sources of scale and design differentiation decline in value, the need to build on these new partnership rules has never been greater.