Partnering is popular but fails to meet goals

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More than seven of 10 companies involved in partnerships say these business relationships are unsuccessful at achieving their most desired result: increasing sales and revenue.

That was one of the findings of a recent survey of business partnerships conducted by BtoB in collaboration with PepperCom Inc., a New York-based strategic comm-unications firm.

For the purposes of the survey, we defined partnerships/alliances as two or more organizations that share common audiences and align, through some means, to create a greater impact among clients and customers. Typically, these partnerships involve a host of marketing and business development initiatives.

The survey, which tabulated the responses of 200 senior-level b-to-b professionals, reveals the extent of partnership activity among b-to-b organizations, how these alliances are formed, whether they create new branding or revenue opportunities and how successful they are in achieving their goals.

Our research indicates that while many companies value the importance of developing and managing business and marketing partnershipsespecially in the current economyfew are successful at establishing alliances that result in a significant return on investment.

Some 85% of respondents said their companies are currently involved in partnership activity, and more than 60% said partnership development is considered a "very serious" focus. Despite these high levels of activity and commitment, more than 70% said they were unsuccessful at increasing sales and revenue.

According to the study, the most common types of alliances involve the sharing of Web-based content and the creation of links between partners. Fewer than 4% of respondents said their companies partnerships involved co-branded advertising.

Regardless of the type of partnership formed, a majority of respondents (66.1%) said that increasing sales was the most important goal, while increasing the companys stock value ranked as the lowest priority.

Even though an overwhelming number of respondents (77.6%) said that partnerships are critical to enhancing the jobs of corporate marketers, 46% claimed that their companies allocate less than 10% of overall marketing resources to developing and managing alliances. If they had their way, more than 40% would pull additional resources from their advertising budgets to increase time and money spent on partnership development.

The economic downturn has had varying effects on the way companies approach partnerships. More than four of 10 respondents said the slowdown has had no impact; only 8.9% said the recession had a significant impact.

However, more than 40% said the downturn has had "somewhat" of an impact on their companies commitment to pursuing partner relations.

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