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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Construction marketing: Partnership perils and potential

We can't do everything ourselves.  Accordingly, we need to structure our business so that important tasks are handled by others.  These can be employees, contractors/suppliers or partners.

Construction marketing partnerships can be wonderful or woeful.  I've written a white paper for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Foundation about Strategic Alliance Best Practices -- and, in the process, learned how challenging it can be to get things right.  Effective alliances and partnerships require a huge amount of trust, but that trust is only achieved if there is enough built-in security to justify it.

I don't have empirical proof of this point, but sense that new partnerships go through a honeymoon stage and then reach a critical point where trust is tested.  In this "middle stage", the partners can question each other's value -- more painfully, they begin to see the warts and problems of their partners that they glossed over during the good times.  Perhaps it is time to break up the arrangement.

But maybe not.  If the partners can build enough friction into the process at the beginning (through mutual agreement, not coercion or misrepresentation) to make a break-up somewhat costly to the partner seeking to end the deal, the partners may discover that, once they've worked things out, they can indeed co-operate for the future.  Of course, this break-up penalty shouldn't be so onerous that it would cause extreme hardship, and the proportional stress, I think, should be equal among the partners.

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