Secrets of a successful marriage: tips for creating a strategic alliance
Secrets of a successful marriage
ConnectWorking has often been described as “a dating service for businesses”. All businesses
accepted into the ConnectWorking group are pre-screened and determined to be legitimate,
professional, proactive and ethical. Our members know that each and every ConnectWorking
business has these characteristics in common, so it’s easy to trust each other from the start.
Like any other dating service though, once the prescreening is done, building successful
relationships with potential partners is up to you.
A successful “marriage” has recently resulted for three ConnectWorking members who have
put the effort into building an effective strategic alliance. Dana Strong (Strong Ideas), Maria
Anderson (Sustainable Marketing Services Australia) and Kim Herringe (Red-Creative) share
the secrets of their success.
Our strategic alliance story
We are all successful ‘solopreneurs’ with established portfolios and clients in our respective
areas: Dana Strong provides powerful, persuasive copywriting through her business, Strong
Ideas; Kim Herringe’s Red-Creative creates original and inspired graphic design solutions; Maria
Anderson of Sustainable Marketing Solutions Australia works collaboratively with businesses
to create strong brands, growth strategies and marketing plans, which help businesses to grow
The three of us realised quickly that we had a lot in common both in the business arena and in
personal characteristics and values.
On the business side, our companies seemed to sit on either side of each others’. What we
mean by that is, clients who use one of our services often have the need, either before or after
our service, for that of the others. Kim’s clients, for example, often need copywriting done for
the websites or marketing collateral she designs. Copywriting and design services are often
elements of the marketing plans Maria develops for her clients. Dana’s clients often come to
her from designers and marketing consultants, and sometimes she has to send her clients to
find these services on their own before she can create the copy for them. We were all offering
services in the same arena, yet none of us could provide the full range of services. Basically,
we had the perfect scenario for a strategic alliance.
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Understanding our business synergies was only the first step of deciding to partner. We
needed to get to know each other. We needed to be confident that our values aligned, that our
work styles were similar, and that we could all mutually trust and respect each other. Luckily,
because of our personal chemistry, we were able to establish that criteria quickly.
We decided to form a strategic alliance. We knew we’d benefit from working with each other,
and our clients would benefit from our ability to provide end-to-end solutions. We also knew
we could penetrate new markets and approach bigger opportunities with our new, combined
forces. And, importantly to each of us, we would all individually strengthen our own brands
rather than dilute them by entering into a strategic alliance.
Our alliance is now going strong. We’ve clarified our alliance strategies and tactics, we are
creating joint marketing collateral, and we are approaching and winning business together.
Together, Red-Creative, Sustainable Marketing Services Australia, and Strong Ideas have
harnessed the power of a successful strategic alliance. Now we’d like to share what we’ve
learned with you.
What a strategic alliance is
A strategic alliance really is like a marriage in a lot of ways – although in some cases, like ours, it
can involve multiple partners. It’s a coming together of unique and well matched identities to
create a mutually beneficial union. It’s a uniting of businesses to create opportunities that
strengthen their own identities, or brands, and also those of their partners. Strategic alliances
are powerful partnerships developed to bring benefits to all parties, including the alliance’s
clients, which could not be achieved independently.
What a Strategic alliance is not
In a strategic alliance, each business keeps its own identity, goals, missions and core
competencies. So a strategic alliance should not be confused with a merger or an acquisition
which requires a complete structural change and the folding of the independent businesses into
one identity. A strategic alliance should also not be confused with simple outsourcing – buying
the goods and services of another business to benefit your own. Strategic alliances combine
the efforts of the partners to create new or better opportunities for all.
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What to look for in an alliance partner
complementary business objectives
similar stage of business development
comparable standards of quality
harmonious work styles
How to start the alliance process
identify potential partners
interview potential partners for general business and personal compatibility
broach the subject of an alliance to gage their reaction and to gain their insights on the
agree in principle to create an alliance and begin to structure specific terms
How to establish the alliance
clearly define the objectives of the alliance
establish ground rules, boundaries and priorities
divide responsibilities based on expertise
establish a time commitment and schedule
create a communication plan
Benefits to your clients
increased delivery speed
higher economies of scale
strength of collaboration
increased level of skills, knowledge and experience
access to a team of business owners
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Benefits to you
access to each others’ clients, both existing and potential
increased and enhanced credibility of each individual businesses
access to new markets and bigger opportunities
collaborative team environment
shared skills, knowledge and experience
These days, flying solo with your business can limit your market potential. A strategic alliance
can give you a marketplace advantage that you could not achieve on your own.
ConnectWorking provides a perfect ‘business dating service’ that gives you access to pre-
screened potential alliance partners from a wide variety of businesses. Why not take it one
step further and actually create a mutually beneficial, lasting relationship with a
complementary business? You, too, could create a successful marriage.
One last, important word of advice from the three of us: Never underestimate the personal
factors when deciding to form a strategic alliance. No matter how aligned your businesses may
be, it’s the character, values, ethics and personal relationships that will make or break your
Dana Strong is the founder and principle copywriter of Strong Ideas. Strong Ideas provides
powerful print copywriting and web words that work.
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