Sitting in my office and minding my own business. Relaxing into a lovely coffee and getting busy with e-mail reading and deleting. The sun was shining and the birds were…. ok you get the picture it was a lovely day about to go horribly wrong!
I received an urgent e-mail requesting an immediate conference call from my boss. You know the kind of e-mail that automatically makes you question what you have done recently and who you may have upset. What other reason could possibly make my boss want me to drop everything and get on a call with him?
The call began with the words……. “Hi Nick I have an opportunity for you!”
Now those of you that are used to working in a corporate world will appreciate this opening statement is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it means your boss sees you as a go to person that can be trusted with responsibility and results. On the other hand, it means you are about to receive another top priority objective on top of your already full plate!
On this occasion the “Opportunity” related to working with an exceptionally difficult and demanding original equipment manufacturer across EMEA. We had just signed a new agreement with them for our company’s products to be pre-loaded and now an integrated Sales and Marketing campaign was required to help promote the new SKU’s to their channel partners. When I realised the size of the opportunity I didn’t know if I should GRIN or GROAN! If by some miracle I could get a campaign together and deliver timely results it would quite literally make company history.
I went to see the Partner filled with aspiration and hope. Undaunted by the challenges ahead and inwardly shaking at the conflicts I was almost certainly going to be confronted with.
The initial welcome meeting went smoothly, no issues. Everyone was professional and polite. Interested in working with us on a campaign that was a real Win / Win for both companies. Then the hard work began. When it comes to Optimised Partner Marketing success or failure is in the detail of planning and execution. You need to listen to the concerns your partner has. Write them down. Discuss them in detail. Explore options to overcome the challenges and never try to side step or sweep them under the carpet. The challenges, and the problems they are causing, won’t go away even if you try REALLY hard to ignore them. Trust me they won’t. They will simply get bigger over time and ultimately destroy the campaign and in some cases the entire partnership.
The approach I took was a simple one. Create a clear and compelling Vision of Success. Keeping working on this with your Partner until it becomes a SHARED compelling Vision of Success for both companies. Acknowledge it will face challenges on the journey into execution. Identify and openly discuss each challenge. Explore with the partner different options and solutions. Seek coaching and guidance from others on approaches we should consider. Make resolving each challenge a FUN experience by introducing new and innovative ideas. Don’t be afraid to throw crazy ideas into the discussion. It shows you are thinking creatively and who knows the crazy ideas are often the ones that lead to market making breakthroughs.
Thankfully the opportunity I was given was a great success. It came down to team work with a host of people bringing amazing energy and creativity to the campaign. We built a detailed, structured and measurable execution plan and implemented it with rigorous attention to detail. Hard work and rewarding in equal measure.
That’s my view, please take a moment to share yours.