Adam T. Sutton

B-to-B Partnerships Built on Solid Communication

Partnering with your competition can make for tense relations. You’re supposed to be working together, but you’re going after the same market with the same product. It can get confusing.

Take search ads: If your partners sell the same product as you, they’re going after the same customer and keywords. You can try to outbid each other—but what would be the point of the partnership? You should be working together to keep costs down.

This conundrum surfaced in a discussion I had with Arthur Ilasco, Director, Acquisition Marketing, Arthur partners with cell phone carriers—like Verizon and AT&T—to sell his company’s cell phones with service. Part of his advertising is on search networks.

The carriers make money partly the same way—by selling phones through search ads. They’re bidding on the same keywords.

Cooperation and competition have to be balanced to keep the partnership steady, Arthur says. Communication is the key. The carriers clearly communicate which areas they’d like to be on top (usually branded keywords) and Arthur and his team communicate their needs. Lines of ownership are drawn. The partnership stays afloat.

The lesson: communicate. Communication kills confusion and smoothes relations, even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye.

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Online Advertising, Search Marketing