Partner Marketing Partner

March 24, 2008

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I’m declaring a moratorium on the word ‘partner.’

It was a useful word in the Old West, I’m told. But these days it requires immediate clarification. My wife referred to her accountant’s ‘partner’ today. I had to ask: life partner? Business partner?

That makes the word ‘partner’ as useful as referring to someone’s ‘animal’. “What kind of animal? Why not just say ‘dog’ from the start?

In business it’s common to get cold-called by someone who wants to partner with your company. There are affiliate deals, revshares, all kinds of things that add up to a few possible scenarios:

  • I want to distribute your product to customers you might not otherwise reach
  • I want you to distribute my product to customers I might not otherwise reach
  • I want to share or trade leads with you
  • I want to sell you stuff
  • I want to buy your stuff but want a discount or special terms

I’m fine with any of those. What I’m not fine with is the conversational inefficiency of having to ask “what kind of animal?” or “partner in what fashion?”

The highest-value partners I’ve been involved with have been able to explain the business model and the benefits succinctly. (Perhaps a Twitter Business Partnership Contest is in order). There’s a good taxonomy of possible partnership types in this book.

When someone says they want to ‘partner’ but can’t quickly explain what they mean…it’s a safe bet that the ‘animal’ is a dog.

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