How Startups Land Marketing Partnerships With Big Companies

This three-phased strategy will get you in the door, but it requires patience and proof

Joe Procopio

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I just scheduled a meeting with a Fortune 500 company to discuss partnership opportunities for marketing, referrals, and revenue sharing. These discussions did not come about overnight, nor will they immediately result in millions of dollars in sales.

Not yet.

I know exactly what I want from a business partnership with a major company, and I’m betting it’s the same thing you want: Press releases, your logo on their website, coordinated sales efforts, and most importantly, a flood of new customers being referred to your business.

That’s all possible, sure. But here’s the thing. Successful partnerships don’t happen like lightning in a bottle. If you go in promising high conversion rates and loads of new customers, the partner likely won’t take you seriously. All of the exciting stuff needs to wait until you can show traction.

How do you do that? You break down the partnership proposal into the following three phases, each one building trust while creating multiple revenue opportunities along the way.

Phase 1: Discounts and Due Diligence

Here’s the first question you should be asking yourself: Is this a partnership worth pursuing?

Because I guarantee you that’s the first question your potential partner will ask.

Of course, their size and reach makes a sales or marketing partnership with them seem like a no-brainer. But their size and reach is also something they’re very much aware of, and they’ll likely want to use that size to swing the deal in their favor. That could result in a very good deal for them and a very bad deal for you.

The way to test both the structure and the dynamics of a potential deal is to start with something that’s easy to set up, inexpensive to run, and straightforward to track.

You’ll need a pricing model that accommodates partner discounts, then build the hooks for a simple discount trade. Your customers get a discount on your partner’s product or service and vice-versa. If possible…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com