Coopetition, Collaboration and Partnerships

  • September 23, 2022
  • Reading time: 2 min

Rumour has it there’s a spirit of collaboration in the air. B2B brands increasingly want to work together, exchange ideas and share data. They want to be hubs, they want to be platforms, and they want to form and leverage strategic partnerships.

But what does ‘strategic partnerships’ actually means? More to the point: what value can they deliver?  

Better together

Strategic partnerships can lead to the streamlining of services and the optimisation of processes, as well as the sharing of data, resources, and ideas.

As Jon Stimmel, chief growth officer at Sabio Holdings, has said, partnerships can also be a great way to “outsource areas that fall outside of your primary areas of expertise”. On top of this, they can lead to “coopetition”, which Stimmel describes as “collaborating with a competitor to propel innovation, save costs and grow business”. Basically, B2B partnerships can be whatever your brand wants or needs.

But while there’s much to be gained from working with other brands, it’s fair to say partnerships can be a tricky thing to navigate too. For instance, collaboration means at least some loss of control. For folks who always like to know what’s happening – when, where, why and with whom – this can be daunting. After all, few businesses want to be affected by forces and actions beyond their control.

And of course, it can take some work to reach optimum partnership mode. According to McKinsey, brands wishing to collaborate need to “foster a culture founded in proactive communication, transparency, consistency, and knowledge sharing, to strengthen long-term partnerships”. This is often a journey rather than a destination. The reason being that businesses can’t foster cultures or cultural changes overnight.

What’s more, it’s important to have a proper partnership plan. This is because “strategy that lacks a clear plan can result in partnerships that fall foul of your brand’s ideology”. To put it bluntly, this would be counterproductive – and potentially defeat the point of partnerships altogether.

Regardless of the risks and challenges of fostering partnerships, if your brand wants to contribute to the collaborative trend, it will be in good company. According to the 2022 Channel/Marketing Benchmark Survey, 82% of B2B brands plan to add to their roster of partners this year. And according to McKinsey, by 2025, almost a third of sales worldwide will come from ecosystems. These are not insignificant numbers. Partnerships, it seems, are on the up.

So the question is – who are you going to partner with in 2023?

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