There is no hiding the fact that great partnerships can be challenging to create.

It’s no mean feat successfully bringing together different brands, media owners, publishers and creators to develop something unique that builds both brand growth and audience reward. The good news is that the hard work is definitely worth it. In fact, analysing You Gov Brand Index data across a wide range of categories, Mediacom has found that media partnerships can be up to twice as effective than traditional advertising at driving brand health metrics. Our evidence, as well as studies produced by people like Thinkbox and Channel 4, have helped to fuel a 40% growth in partnership billings across our client base in 2017. Despite these positive results, it’s dangerous to assume that every partnership is guaranteed to succeed. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should. To ensure partnership success in the next few months, there are three key areas we should all focus on:

1. Focus on the right challenge

The most important question to ask is ‘why?’ Without a precise understanding of exactly why a partnership is needed, it’s impossible to deliver the right outcomes. It sounds obvious, but if you don’t get the challenge right from the start, you’re setting yourself up to fail. To find the ‘why’, think proactively about the big challenges that could really make a difference to your business. What are the things keeping you awake at night that you aren’t already able to answer? Once you have the ‘why’, ensure you have the right measurements in place to track both long term brand metrics as well as short term ROI. KPI your partners on deliver this.

2. Find the right partners

Make sure the partners you choose align with your brand purpose. Be single-minded about what you stand for and ensure that your partners help you grow. Single brand partnerships are highly effective at changing perception amongst defined audiences but multiple partnerships are more effective at driving fame. Widen the net beyond the usual suspects. Look for the brands, events and organisations that play important roles in the lives of your consumers. For example, we’ve achieved game-changing results from partnering Shell with Waze, Nikon with Secret Escapes and Lucozade with TFL. Build deep collaborations that provide value right across the business. Look for relationships that not only deliver above the line results but also impact across CRM channels, support in store and on pack activations and even enhance employee engagement.

3. Use real insight to make the difference

Use data to fuel insights with real, practical applications. Doing that can require new thinking. For example, for Sport England and This Girl Can, we found women who had lapsed from their exercise regimes by using Spotify data to identify people who had set up and then not used their Running playlists. Use partners to connect your insight to a ’twist’ in brand behaviour that differentiates what you are saying and makes people notice. Build ideas based on what people want and need not just what you want to tell them. Offer a clear value exchange.

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