What Harley-Davidson and Best Western Know That You Might Not

May 16, 2016

At Intellectsoft, we are passionate about the possibilities which partnerships provide to our clients and to our business. Every day we see firsthand just how powerful partnerships can be in helping us serve our clients and grow our business through an expanded network of advocates. Does your company need to add resources in a particular area or expand your client base outside your normal circle? If so, consider partnering with other companies to share leads, activate at events, and consult each other’s expertise.

As you you consider your potential partnership needs, let’s explore the key questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. If I could “trade” one of my business’ strengths for another business’ offering, what would I trade, and what would I want in return? Essentially, how can you outsource your weaknesses through bartering?
      Do you have a plethora of awesome developers who can help an agency with their app? Perhaps you can ask for free brand marketing expertise in return.
  2. What areas of my business are lacking in talent, expertise, or resources?
      For example, if you run a bakery and need to develop an app, offer access to your loyal customer base and free in-store promotion in exchange for discounted app development services.
  3. What areas of my business are robust in talent, expertise, and resources?
      Let’s say you source the best coffee beans and have an overload of coffee but lack brand awareness and prestige. Why not offer your coffee to an upscale hotel in return for onsite and social media promotion?
  4. Am I looking for sales leads or referrals from other companies?
      Consider setting up a lead-sharing program that drives business between your companies based on area of expertise or changes in workload.

No Two Partnerships Are The Same

The beauty of partnerships is that they are truly customizable to the needs of both parties. All it takes is two companies that can identify their common goals and settle on the “gives” and “gets.” Consider how the companies below customized partnerships to their needs:

Best Western + Harley-Davidson Ride Rewards Program

It’s hard to think of two brands better suited for a partnership than Best Western and Harley-Davidson. Following their partnering, now when Harley riders join the Best Western Ride Rewards program, they are automatically upgraded to Gold status which entitles them to numerous benefits. This includes: 10% bonus points or 250 airlines miles with each stay, a 10% discount on rooms, a free washing station and wipe-down towel at more than 1200 Rider Friendly locations, and a Harley-Davidson Ride Planner tool that maps out all of Best Western’s locations. By teaming up, Best Western and Harley-Davidson were able to tap into a common need (ease of travel) among their consumer base, provide a well-rounded travel experience, build loyalty, and increase exposure for both brands.

HubSpot + LinkedIn Sales Solutions Ebook

What better way to create a low-cost piece of co-branded content for a highly-coveted audience of professionals than to release an ebook? This partnership between HubSpot and LinkedIn allowed both brands to showcase their expertise in a niche field (social selling and online branding) and control the message completely. By providing professionals with useful information, they further positioned their individual reputations as career and sales advice leaders in a crowded field of content marketers. And as a bonus – the only costs associated with the partnership were copywriting, design, and online advertising…but as you can imagine, LinkedIn and Hubspot had an ample supply of in-house resources to help with that!

Google Glass + Luxottica

Ahh Google Glass, we hardly knew you. Although the product may be in hiatus, the strategic partnership between Luxottica and Google Glass was a home run for both parties. Google offered groundbreaking hardware which allowed people to experience reality in a new and augmented way, and Luxottica stepped in to offer its expert design and fashion capabilities. Each company brought a vital core strength to the table and the brands reaped the rewards by sharing in vast functional resources. This allowed both brands to concentrate on their individual core strengths while benefitting from the other’s vast functional resources.

What Next?

So, are you interested in exploring the world of partnerships? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Identify your strengths and needs, and map out business verticals that you’d like to target for partnership conversations.
      For example, if you are a design agency looking for leads, reach out to software and app development companies who may have clients looking more intricate design work than the developer is able to provide.
  • Draft up a formal partnership agreement to help guide conversations as they progress. The most important part of the agreement should include the “gives” and “gets” for each partner. Examples include following each other on social media, highlighting each other on your blog, or setting up an introductory call between your Sales teams.
  • Find partnership meetup groups in your area where you can network with other businesses and find potential partners. If you don’t share an office space with other startups, then reach out to co-working spaces like WeWork and see what you can do to get involved with their meetups or drop your products by their offices. You would be surprised how effective this can be.

In NYC, Intellectsoft created a Partnerships group to help further these connections. Our next meetup is being held Wednesday, May 18 at WeWork City Hall so if you’re in the area, we’d love for you to swing by! You can register for the event and join our Meetup Group.

At the end of the day, partnerships will help your brand build positive equity in the marketplace through the most important type of recommendation: word of mouth. When you add value to other businesses, you build a deep bench of allies and friends eager to help you succeed.

As Deborah Sweeney of Forbes magazine wrote: “When businesses have great partners to refer customers to that are similarly related to the same industry, customers recognize this and go the partner for their needs because they trust the company that referred them on. This in turn helps provide both businesses with new clients and customers and increases strong word of mouth and company loyalty.”

With a bit of effort and a drive to collaborate, any company, however big or small, can use this cost-effective method to build awareness, better serve its customers, and ultimately drive revenue.