When fate (or sound judgment) aligns, partnerships can be a big success. Publicis Groupe and Travelocity. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Romeo and Juliet. Okay, maybe not that last one.

Especially in economic downturns, it’s natural to ask “How can we do more with less?” The answer? A strategic partnership – one that brings more. More expertise. More resources. More selling power. Then again, sometimes finding a partner is about less – less runaround and less catching up different teams. Like how Ad Age reported that Travelocity recently consolidated its ad, media and digital accounts with Publicis Groupe, instead of having three agency heads to connect with constantly. As they say, sometimes one head is better than three.

Whether you’re trying to bring in new business with additional offerings or continue to impress existing clients with even more successes, the right partnership can be a huge boost. As MDC Partner CEO Miles Nadal recently said in Ad Age:

“The changing media landscape means a lot of firms are looking for assistance in social media, investment in technology and pure scale…Clients are looking to consolidate the number of partners they do business with, and you need to have the resources and scale.” That’s why more and more companies, everyone from Nielsen and Mobclix to IPG and Microsoft, are partnering up to increase dexterity and profitability.

So how do you figure out what your agency, firm or brand is missing, and which potential partner can deliver the best results?

  1. Stay focused on what you do best. You’re the experts in your field. Let a true partner, not just a vendor, work with you to do the social media strategy, analytics or heavy coding.
  2. Nail down what currently unavailable or underdeveloped product offerings clients want. Talk to your client services folks. Talk to your clients. Perhaps most importantly, talk to the leads that chose someone else.  Find out how a partnership can help you gain business.
  3. Identify the area(s) you need help with, and see who might be able to help. Consumers are looking beyond branding messages for experiences that live up to the hype. Don’t have user experience experts on-staff? Find a partner who can help you.
  4. Rank potential partners across key metrics that are most important to your company, like domain expertise, chemistry, value, leadership team and responsiveness. Seeing the matrix will help make your path clearer.
  5. When all is said and done, sit back, say you do everything and gain relationships – the key to partnering.

Author: Howard Davidson is the Director of Marketing for Piehead.  To find out about Piehead’s Partner Program, email Natalie Barratt.