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  • Writer's pictureSophie M

Making a Partnership Last

b2b partnership's take on how Elton John's new film has highlighted what makes a partnership last.

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the new film Rocketman…don’t worry, thankfully Elton John’s life has been well documented and we won’t be spoiling anything which we all didn’t know already know…

The stand-out for me was the amazing working partnership between Elton John and Bernie Taupin – starting in 1967 and still going strong today (even with the blip in the middle!), and how that working relationship has led to some of the most creative and exciting songs in history.

Whilst the partnerships we develop at b2b may not (always) lead to iconic songs like ‘Tiny Dancer’, we do build relationships that are meaningful, impactful and drive value beyond the obvious.

So, it got me thinking…

What makes a partnership last and even more important grow and flourish? Even in the face of change, disruption and innovation? I posed this question to the team at b2b and we attributed the following factors to creating a successful long-term business to business partnership.

Commitment. Or to expand further – whole organisational buy-in to the purpose of the work, the partnership and why it’s important. Just like Elton and Bernie, there needs to be commitment, trust and respect from the outset (and a whole load of robust planning), to ensure that your professional association will develop and deliver the programs and partnerships with clarity and confidence over the long term.

Alignment of Objectives

What are you trying to do? Change the world with a song? Or deliver an impactful partnership and campaign that has longevity? Ensuring 100% clear alignment of values and objectives from the get-go means your partnership will have legs to develop and grow. Without clear objectives, you also won’t be able to demonstrate the partnership success.

Target Audience

Who are you looking to target in the programme? Who is your partner looking to engage with? Target audience is really important to align your partner with the right activity and also build them into a partnership which meet their audience objectives.

Know thyself – and thy value!

Professional associations are viewed as a respected, independent and expert voice which upholds quality standards for the profession that they represent. It is important to ‘know your stuff’ and be able to continually showcase value to your profession, your members and your industry sector as a whole. Alignment with corporates or other professional bodies via partnerships can provide considerable value, including access to markets, skills, content gaps and investment to re-invest back into the professional body.

Changes to Internal Stakeholders

Changes to key personnel are inevitable it’s part of the circle of life-  I’m sorry, we had to …

This can be destabilising and championing the partnership story and reinforcing its history, purpose, success and unique qualities means even if the inevitable happens, your programme speaks for itself.

As a third party, who establishes and forges partnerships for our clients, we believe in fostering a network of relationships within the organisation, across departments and levels of seniority, so when your key person leaves you don’t have to keep going back to square one.  Don’t be afraid to ask how to support your partner’s internal communication and decision-making processes.

Partnership Renewal

If the partnership is delivering increasing value and reach, then this should be reflected with increased investment over time. There is however a ‘but’ in this. Let’s face it, there always is. 

Financial negotiations should always be balanced with recognition of the long-term commitment from the ‘right-fit’ partner and the genuine valuation of the opportunity. In short, don’t get greedy half-way through the arrangement. 

Ultimately, if both parties can demonstrate continued and measurable success, then the partnership can and should become a recurring fixture in a budget line.

So, to answer our own question, what does make a partnership last?

Elton and Bernie’s partnership speaks for itself. However for our clients - planning, preparation, communication, delivery and measurement are key. Creating partnerships that last is all about ensuring you are able to create meaningful outputs that can develop and grow as the partnership does.

An example is the partnership we developed between CIPD and Simplyhealth across CIPD’s Well-being at Work Survey. CIPD and Simplyhealth have worked together across this programme for nearly a decade.

We have even been shortlisted for the 2019 MemCom Awards for this partnership – check it out here.

One of the questions we get asked a lot is how partnerships survive in the face of constant change?

We can’t speak for Elton and Bernie, but since the start of the CIPD/ SimplyHealth partnership the business world has evolved and adapted to rapid advances in technology, new data laws and digital platforms. Even Twitter and LinkedIn weren’t commonplace when the partnership initially launched.

We have a strong passion for partnerships and collaborating for success. The team at can help with your existing partnerships or help you to develop new ones. Drop us an email if you’re interested and we can help you a build a partnership which is ‘Still Standing’ for years to come.

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