Sort of like finding a romantic partner, finding the right strategic partner for your brand requires certain criteria. Are they the right fit for you at any given time? Will they provide for you as you do for them? Do you see yourself working with them down the line to constructively address issues and better the relationship?

Below are the TACK10 Tuesday Top 5 steps your company should always take before approaching potential strategic partners in order to answer the above questions among others.

1. Start with your own brand
Before you embark on your partnership journey, the first step is always to start with yourself. Identify your brand’s objectives and the specific help you need to achieve those objectives. Know what you’ll be asking of a partner in terms of value received so that you can productively come up with a target list of companies that are able to provide that to you.

2. Research the market/industry
After you’ve done some internal research on your brand’s needs, it’s important to do outside research on the industry you’re a part of. Just as you would list your brand’s objectives, what are the pain points or objectives of your customer base and what are ways a partnership could help solve them? What are current trends in the industry that a partnership could help you capitalize on?

3. Come up with a list of criteria your ideal partners would fit under
Criteria for a good potential partnership will change from brand to brand, but going back to points 1 and 2, the main criterion should be that the brand is able to help you achieve your set objectives. In order to do that, a company needs to share the same values as yours. You should also look at things like long-term potential, existing contacts within a company, and criteria to avoid such as certain risk factors you just cannot work with.

4. Create a list of brands that fall under those criteria
After you’ve established your list of needs in terms of partner criteria, find which brands align under those needs. If it helps to separate brands into categories, do it. Create a list of brands that meet all of your requirements, brands that meet some of your requirements, and brands you’re interested in but may need to dive deeper into to learn about their fit within your goals.

5. Reach out to learn more
Your first point of contact with a company shouldn’t be the partnership pitch. In order to make sure you’re proposing partnerships to the right brands, start instead with an informational interview or more slightly more informal meeting positioned as an opportunity to discuss brand needs and wants in your industry and to learn more about what the target does within that industry.

Once you’ve gone through these steps, you should have a clear idea of which brands from your initial list are ones that are 100% worth approaching with a proposal in mind. When you eventually become engaged in partnerships with these brands, make sure you’re constantly working on the relationship and following these other great tips to keep the momentum going.

Do you need direct help in finding and engaging in strategic partnerships? Reach out to us at info@tack10.com or @TACK10Strategy.