How to Find Your Next Big Partnership

by Lisa Bodell for ForbesWomen

Adidas and IKEA. Dove Hair and Dunkin’ Donuts. Blue Apron and Airbnb. All of these brand mash-ups translate into wise partnerships that are mutually beneficial. By partnering with a complementary company, each was able to expand its brand reach and deepen customer insights.

Like these examples, the right partnerships can offer your organization valuable intellectual property, new customers, or expertise in an area where your business is lacking. To identify your company’s optimal strategic partners, try a technique known as “Within, Adjacent, and Beyond.”

With your team, start by specifying the goal of your partnership (i.e. “find partners to expand our loyalty program.”) Then start listing the companies and people within your company and industry that can help you achieve that goal — including your competition.

Partnering with a competitor may sound crazy, but Clorox and P&G have proven otherwise. While P&G was improving its diapers, it discovered a new type of plastic film. The company wasn’t in the plastic-wrap market, so it formed a joint venture with its competitor Clorox, which makes Glad plastic wrap. The result? Glad Press ’n Seal Wrap. In the first four years of the partnership, Glad sales doubled, making it a billion-dollar brand. P&G, of course, earned its fair share from the deal too.

Next, think about adjacent partners. Who are the people and organizations adjacent to your industry — like technology providers or vendors— that could provide you with crucial resources to reach your goal?

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