What Makes a Partnership Strong? The Short List Revisited
What do you look for in a partner? Before you pull out your go-to list of predictable albeit admirable characteristics or reference your match.com profile, think about all the partnerships you have right now. In work. In life. In love. Attributes like trust and respect, communication and empathy, will surely come to mind, followed by shared interests and passions. And, of course, passion itself. There has to be some kind of spark, right?
Now let’s get real. Do all of your partnerships line up neatly with all of your ideals all the time? Probably not. So let’s dig a little deeper. When things get messy or change or challenge you in uncomfortable or even just new ways, do your partnerships withstand the test of time? If not, how can you get there, that place where the magic continues to happen, year after year?
This month, as we celebrate the start of our fourth year in our wonderful historic office space at 12 Stockton Street in Princeton, we recognize that we are here today because we have amazing partners and a strong community. Many of our partners, including our office mates at 12 Stockton, are nonprofit organizations that we help in a number of ways—as volunteers, donors, sponsors and as marketing consultants.
“Of course, you love working with us,” says Allison Howe, executive director of nonprofit VolunteerConnect. “We’re good people!” We couldn’t agree more. Yet that’s only one reason to partner with a nonprofit organization. It is through your nonprofit partnerships that you make valuable connections in the community, increase your company’s overall visibility and build camaraderie among your staff. By sponsoring fundraising events or participating in service days, you tap into an innate desire we all have to help others. Something that translates effortlessly into positive energy in the workplace.
At Ananta, we look back on our own startup days as perhaps a little chaotic, but mostly as memorable and meaningful. As a new agency, we had more time and energy to roll up our sleeves and volunteer alongside nonprofit organizations at special events and champion their fundraising activities. There was a lot we gained both personally and professionally by aligning our passions with our skills. We had no idea then that we would one day be leading the brand refresh for VolunteerConnect, an organization that has inspired us to “renew our vows” to our nonprofit partners.
Today we continue to partner with select nonprofits to strengthen and expand our own mission and core values as a marketing consultant for businesses in every sector.
Three Kinds of Partners to Add to Your List
1. Old Reliables
These are the clients, business partners and colleagues with whom we have history, staying power, trust and commitment. Like that one friend you can always count on for advice and support, “old reliable” partners have your back. Whether it’s a vendor who continues to work with you even when your competitors are offering them a better deal or a client who consistently provides valuable referrals and testimonials, they are there for you. The key to this kind of partnership is reciprocity. You have to step up to the plate.
One of our first clients was the Prallsville Mills in Stockton, NJ, a historic, 11-acre complex nestled along the Delaware River and Raritan Canal that serves as a venue for special events and a center for community activity. They approached us several years ago with an urgent need to raise funds to keep their magnificent grounds and Industrial Era buildings in operation. They had little to no budget but a tremendous amount of energy, a steadfast purpose and passion—a shared passion—for restoration and preservation.
As a new agency, we knew that partnering early with a nonprofit like the Mill made a tremendous amount of sense. Over the years, as their needs and leadership have changed, our role has shifted. Yet, we have never stopped supporting their mission, and they have never stopped advocating for us. And on those occasions when we re-engage, it always feels like coming home.
2. Flexible, Empathetic Leaders
A lot has been written about flexibility in the workplace. We believe that most people perform at their highest level when given the opportunity to integrate their workstyle into a company’s culture, when appropriate. This goes beyond flexible scheduling and work-at-home arrangements. Consider your own communication style as an example. Do you prefer to brainstorm in person, chat on Zoom, download information using a project management tool or pick up the phone and discuss your big ideas while making small talk? Isn’t it great, and a true sign of respect, when your partners take this into consideration when connecting with you?
The West Windsor Arts Council is an active community center, abuzz with students, teachers, volunteers and staff throughout the workday, as well as some evenings and weekends. Their team is always busy leading classes, bringing art into the community and raising awareness for important social issues such as racism and gender equality. Their executive director is also an acclaimed fine artist and an engaged community leader.
With so much going on at the center and beyond, it’s essential that its leadership be flexible to meet constantly changing class schedules and enrollments, not to mention students with widely diverse skills and interests. As the art council’s marketing partner, we are inspired by their spirit of collaboration and wowed by their creative input and vision. What has made them a truly remarkable partner is their agility and adaptive approach to teamwork.
3. Friendly Competitors and Respected Peers
In recent months, we were honored to be selected to serve on a marketing committee appointed to announce and promote the merger of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce with the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce. Ananta was selected to handle all the PR activities for the announcement, while another marketing agency was chosen to establish a new logo and branding guidelines for the combined organization, the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce. The committee was also composed of members from both formerly competing chambers. The result? A healthy, productive, upbeat and highly successful and collaborative project. We shared our contacts and resources as well as our ideas and tactics.
Ananta was responsible for the messaging and outreach to the media, which was picked up by most local news outlets and met with community-wide support for the merger. We are a stronger agency for having had the opportunity to work alongside our marketing peers, as well as talented professionals from leading Mercer County businesses.
What’s it like to partner with us? Give us a call at 609-759-1209 to schedule a consultation, or contact us by clicking on the link below.