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Why Partnerships Are the Biggest Investment Brands Should Make This Year

We’re a couple of months past the first in-person Cannes Lions festival in two years. But this year, more than any other, I find myself reflecting on how different this particular event was. For the first time ever, in my opinion, my fellow Cannes attendees showed a true, genuine desire for partnership. There was a greater appetite for conversations with different individuals and companies than in years past. It’s all left me wondering: Is the industry finally hungry for new solutions to both old and new problems? 

As we head into the second half of the year and begin setting plans for 2023, there’s a real opportunity to explore what this new spirit of collaboration means for the advertising industry. 

People Need People

What struck me more than anything at Cannes was that more and more companies are not viewing each other as competitors. There was a free-flowing of ideas as attendees pondered challenges in their businesses and the world. The resounding sentiment was that none of us can achieve success on our own.

This mindset rings true in business more broadly.

Eighty-two percent of B2B business leaders will add to their roster of partners this year, and 96% expect to increase revenue directly attributed to their partner ecosystems

according to a survey by Channel Marketer Report and Demand Gen Report. With three-quarters of global trade flowing into businesses indirectly, partnerships, alliances and channels are growing in importance. It’s estimated that nearly a third of total global sales will come from ecosystems by 2025.

These numbers translate to a simple truth: We could all be closer to our business goals if we can find common ground and act with more synergy.

Partnering to Address Non-Core Competencies

It’s often far too easy to fall into the trap of trying to do everything all at once in a business under the illusion that this produces improved performance. Research has actually highlighted the opposite, that there’s tremendous benefit in only focusing on your business’s core competencies. Companies that prioritize what they’re good at drive more growth, maintain competitive advantage and keep operational costs down. 

To focus resources on core competencies, you must outsource areas that fall outside of your primary areas of expertise. Let’s use testing into new advertising channels such as connected TV or mobile as an example. Partnering with industry experts whose core competency lies in targeting, creative, delivery and measurement in these channels can lead to more successful outcomes than trying to execute on your own or through a variety of disparate point solutions. 

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What to Look for in Your Next Partner

No doubt inboxes are likely being flooded with follow-up communications from potential partners that businesses met at Cannes. While there are so many fantastic companies represented at this event, it’s important to find the fit for your brand. There are three main areas to keep in mind as you whittle down your list of potential partners:

‘Coopetition’

This fun word describes collaborating with a competitor to propel innovation, save costs and grow business. There are many examples of this practice at work today, such as Ford and GM and Apple and Samsung. It takes swallowing an ego to recognize that a competitor could add complementary value to your organization, and to drum up the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality. It also takes realizing that even if in the short-term “coopetition” seems disadvantageous to your brand, there’s the possibility that another company will jump in on the opportunity. This could result in potential lost profits and scale for your own business. To gauge the risk of a possible arrangement, check out these four different scenarios.

Data-sharing

Ecosystems could unlock $100 trillion of value for organizations and society at large in the next 10 years, according to Accenture. Those getting ecosystem partnerships right are experts at sharing data — 77% do so with some level of restrictions. Those getting these partnerships wrong typically share too little data, per the Accenture findings. Data-sharing is one area that tends to concern companies due to potential security and privacy risks. That’s why it’s important to seek a partner that collects accurate, reliable data, is compliant with local privacy laws, never collects PII and clears consumer information unless it’s being actively utilized for targeting purposes.

Technology

About two-thirds of ecosystem masters see the critical importance in selecting the right platform to support their efforts, according to the Accenture research. As more business leaders look to consolidate their tech investments into single-vendor solutions — a preference of 59% of marketing leaders surveyed by Gartner in 2020 — robust, end-to-end technology suites that promote enhanced visibility into campaign parameters, business goals and post-campaign results will rise to the top. Such an approach will prove critical to fully incorporating incremental touchpoints like CTV, which now has the same audiences, workflow, and measurement as other channels, into omnichannel advertising.

Post-Cannes 2022, it appears partnerships are the new black. As we build a new way forward, seek out the partners that will help spur ideation, information-sharing and innovation. If we can get this right as an industry, we’ll be well on our way to solving our biggest business and world problems.

This article was written by Jon Stimmel from Marketing Dive and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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