5 Ways to Keep Partnerships Fresh

5 Ways to Keep Partnerships Fresh
by Dawn Turner – May 2013

Keeping it Fresh

Signing a long-term deal can be compared to getting married. In the beginning the relationship and courtship are very exciting. Executing the agreement constitutes the end of a courtship process.  The first couple of years are the honeymoon phase. Then the focus switches to how to keep things fresh.

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Padres SVP
Tyler Epp

san_diego_padresWith all of our focus on measurement, impressions, ratings, and formulas, the success for our long-term partnerships are more a product of relationships with partners and consistent commitment to truly investing in our shared community in an authentic and meaningful way.[/dropshadowbox]

Keeping things fresh is a challenge all brands and properties eventually face.  But, thankfully, there are five steps partners can take to ensure things run smoothly.

1. Communicate. Maintain regular intervals of communication to make sure changes in priorities, objectives, staff or branding are shared and understood by both parties.

2. Take time. Deep relationships at multiple levels inside both organizations takes time. Doing so allows both parties to build camaraderie and strength that will become important during the latter years leading to renewal or renegotiation.

3. Anticipate staff changes. The folks that negotiate and execute the long-term deals are not always going to be around to see them through. When staff changes *on either side), both parties must work to maintain consistent communication and share past history, programs, successes/failures, etc. Doing so will ensure seamless transition when these changes occur.

4. Review terms. Terms negotiated in long-term contracts need revisiting and maybe even refreshed at regular intervals.  A good example is a 10-year contract that began in 2000. Who knew the internet and social media would evolve the way they did during that time?  Odds are that properties took the opportunity to create additional revenue streams via these channels with other partners. However, they should consider offering alternative assets to a long-term partner to demonstrate how important they are to the organization.  Parties that anticipate changes and are willing to make room for them throughout the term of the contract will find themselves in the best position for creating and maintaining long-term relationships that last.

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Wayne Guymon
Wayne Guymon

foxsports san diegoThe key element of long-term agreements is the ability to continually re-visit the partnership throughout the term.

The worst case scenario for both sides is simply being heard from at renewal time. In order to ensure continued success, a long-term partnership should be treated as an annual renewal. While the framework of the agreement stays in place, continual evolution of the elements is critical.[/dropshadowbox]

5. Renew your vows. Just because a partner signed a long-term deal does not mean properties should say, “Thanks, here are your assets. Have a nice life.”  Over time a property may come to rely on this partner revenue as “expected.” See what happens in other relationships when you take someone for granted. If you want to sustain the relationship, work closely with partners to ensure the relationships remain deep, programs relevant and results are shared on a continual basis.  Properties taking this approach rarely find themselves in divorce court, barring a massive shift in strategy, finances or other extraneous reasons.

What will you do today?

During the courtship process both parties have stars in their eyes and see infinite possibilities. What do you need to do today with your partners to create and maintain the enthusiasm you had back in the beginning?

Mutual respect takes time, effort, constant open lines of communication, openness to change and making room for change.  If you follow this road map to partner relations, odds are you’ll celebrate a series of milestone anniversaries for years to come.