Strategic Partnerships

What is a strategic partnership? It's a long-term relationship where two separate businesses (who don't compete with each other) cooperate and make each other stronger.

Why a strategic partnership? They not only help your business become more competitive, they can also help the local economy get stronger. Local First Arizona recently found that every dollar spent locally generates four more dollars in revenue.

A business relationship like this can help you move forward, but you may need help from SCORE and other local networking groups to find partners who share both your audience and your values. There are also legal and ethical considerations.

Where to start:

  1. What are your long term goals? Where do you need to improve effectiveness? What would make your business more competitive? Lower product costs? Better data? High-quality referrals? More customers?
  2. Identify local businesses that could meet those needs. Focus first on the ones that serve the same demographics. Who is influential locally for the demographic?
  3. Build the relationship slowly, and do a lot of listening for where you or your business can help them. How might you complement each other? Do your values align?

Examples of famous strategic partnerships

  • Spotify and Lyft. Spotify now broadcasts a rider's favorite music channel when they enter the car. For Spotify, they get more visibility, and for Lyft, they get a unique service that helps differentiate them from other driver services.
  • In 1993, Starbucks partnered with Barnes & Noble Bookstores to run coffee shops in the chain's bookstores. Starbucks gained widespread, early brand recognition; Barnes & Noble was one of the first bookstore chains to offer fresh coffee and snacks.
  • High-end business card printer Moo knew that people always run out of business cards at large conferences, so they partnered with SxSW and Taskrabbit to print and deliver business cards on demand at the conference.
  • The small banks have partnered with grocery stores to extend their geographic reach.
  • Read more:


Come to the January 2016 "Find Your Influencers' Catalyst Cafe at the Library to discuss business strategic partnerships with Bill Nordbrock, the Founder of the Tucson Business Club, and a longtime SCORE mentor.
When: Tuesday, January 14, 2016, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Where: Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave., Tucson AZ. Free. Parking under the library is free after 5pm.
Who: businesses and nonprofits who are curious about how to find local people and businesses who are influential within your customer segments.

This article is based in part upon the "Networking and Social Media Workshop" taught by Michael Gray (Online BizSmarts) and Bill Nordbrock (Tucson Business Club), for SCORE, on July 29, 2015.

Related article: Building Referrals with Social Media