As a business building strategy, nothing beats an innovative, properly executed joint venture (JV). They are powerful list-builders, visibility boosters and relationship-creators. My business grew leaps and bounds when I published the first issue of my Going PRO magazine – thanks in large part to the 16 other women who signed on to be part of it and help promote it.
I’m sure you’ve seen any number of joint venture projects in action – from telesummits to digital magazines to collaborative ebooks to virtual conferences. A joint venture is simply when more than one business enters into a temporary partnership.
While a great joint venture includes a number of moving pieces to make it come together powerfully, there’s one variable that will literally make or break your joint venture success:
Clear communication with your joint venture partners.
I’ve witnessed countless new (and even some seasoned) joint venturers either piss off prospective partners or get lacklustre results because of this one factor.
So before you create your first (or next) JV, let’s breakdown the five must-have elements of a great joint venture:
1. Create a win-win-win project
Before you even approach a prospective partner, you’ve got to do your due diligence to come up with an idea that’s a triple win – it benefits your business, your fellow contributors and your shared audience. If it only serves you — you’ve got more planning to do.
Really identify where you can add value to your partners, and what would excite them enough to encourage them to participate. Your potential partners are busy and likely get a lot of requests. Yours has to cut through the noise and actually add value to their business.
2. Query like a PRO
If there’s one place communications fall down, it’s in the initial query. First, as a general rule, do your best to build a relationship ahead of time before you pitch a prospect. Follow them on social media, comment on their blog posts, or simply reach out over email before you make a request. Get on their radar.
Second, put together a proposal request that not only demonstrates the true value of your project and why they should want to be involved, but also respects their time and their audience.
Here are a few big mistakes I see people make when they query:
A quick general email with no details, dates or even any context about the project at all. E.g. “I’d love to have you as an expert in my upcoming Telesummit — would you be part of it? We start interviews soon.” Ummm…no.
The query is all about THEM and why their project is going to be sooo great for your business – without a word of why they think you’d add value to the project. Not convinced.
Not creating a joint venture agreement that all partners sign and commit to. Believe me, get it in writing — be sure your partners are 100% committed to the terms they originally agreed on or your project will suffer. If everyone’s agreed to do a newsletter blast, and only two of the 10 do, your results will reflect it.
Forgetting to build the relationship. Yes, you can likely get partners on board through email, but for a true business relationship to develop, hop on the phone or Skype and connect. Your partnership will be stronger as a result, as will their commitment to the project.
3. Be clear with your rules of engagement
While this falls under point #2, it’s so important that it deserves its own section.
Failure to clearly communicate the terms of engagement will ultimately lead to either a) a lot of no’s right out of the gate, b) pissed off prospective or existing partners, and/or c) mediocre results.
Before you send that first query, be clear on exactly what you expect from your partners – from the details of the project itself right through to the promotional requirements once it launches.
While there are a lot of different perspectives on what’s fair to expect, the bottom line is that as the CEO of your business, you get to decide. But once you do, don’t be coy or vague in your communications. Ask for what you want and trust that the partners that are excited enough about the project (see point #1) will say yes.
For example, if you want them to send a solo broadcast, let them know that right out of the gate versus saving it for after they say yes (big no-no!).
4. Give them the tools they need
When you ask a group of busy entrepreneurs to sign on to your project, the very least you need to do is give them the tools and information to do it well.
This often includes setting up a private joint venture headquarters page on your site where you share key details, deadlines, and all the promotional materials they’ll need to actively share the project.
While I always encourage my JV partners to share the project using their own voice and style, I do supply some templates, examples and swipe copy for them to use as either a baseline or in the event they get really busy.
Make it easy for them to play and you’ll find their willingness to share goes up.
5. Follow up. Thank them. Follow up.
Continue to connect throughout and beyond the initial launch window to share success stories and feedback, or give them a little nudge if they haven’t yet promoted. You’re the steward of the project, and it’s your job to keep them engaged and excited.
As the project wraps, be sure to personally thank each partner for their participation — a little gratitude goes a long way.
And finally, continue to connect with your partners and offer to be of service to them. Great business relationships are worth their weight in gold, so don’t go MIA once the project completes.
Business activator + leadership coach Stephanie Pollock is devoted to helping talented women in business GO PRO with their dreams, stepping into the spotlights — and revenue streams — they so richly deserve.
She’s the publisher of Going Pro Magazine, a Top 40 Under 40 changemaker and creator of Beyond PRO: Claim your place as CEO – a leadership program designed specifically for entrepreneurial women.