Some of the most successful marriages are those in which the partners complement each other, work on life’s inevitable challenges in tandem and then provide the world a united front that’s secure in the knowledge that two is stronger than one.
The same can be said about co-marketing relationships between those who sell real estate and those who fund it.
But what makes a good partnership and what happens when it all falls apart?
The Right Co-Marketing Match
Before couples walk down the aisle, they’ve evaluated their potential mate and found something that convinced them to commit to the marriage. In business relationships, that commitment means:
- Finding a partner with similar values and goals: If you’re a real estate agent who has developed a reputation for selling homes in a particular community, you probably shouldn’t hook up with a lender known for financing projects that have upset the public. At the same time, if you’re a lender who has steadfastly worked to build a reputation for speedy resolution and approval, you don’t want a real estate agent who doesn’t even return home buyer calls promptly. You need to define what you value and how you want to be seen and find a partner with similar goals. According to an Inman study released last year, the top reason real estate brokers pick a lender is a cultural fit. Make sure a potential partner has the same marketing ideas and goals.
- Finding someone you can trust: All good company arrangements only go so far as the humans behind them. You need to know whether you can trust your partner from the get-go, which means you need to conduct due diligence and research your partner’s past dealings to establish a level of trust. You should expect the same from that partner.
- Looking for someone who compliments you: The main reason many people attach themselves to a partner is that they see something that fills a hole within themselves. Good partnerships are a give-and-take based on the individual strengths of each partner. Look for someone who has projects that might fall in line with what your eventual plans are. Do you want to expand geographically? Then find someone already established in a new area. Do you want to upscale your products and your image? Then look for someone with proven abilities to deal with affluent buyers.
The Warning Signs
So how do you tell when the partnership is faltering?
First of all, you need to have a method of tracking return on investment to know if the joint effort is on solid ground. But you also should be wary of:
- A partner who stops communicating or provides inconsistent information. If you find you can’t trust your partner, to be honest, and straightforward, you need to pull out quickly. It’s likely that party does the same thing in other business dealings, including with the public.
- A partner who takes on too little or too much of the workload. If you’ve found someone who spouts the terrific benefits of marketing together but doesn’t come through when it’s time to roll up the sleeves, you can be assured the situation is not likely to get any better. At the same time, if someone seeks more control over what happens than you’re willing to concede, your togetherness is probably going to suffer. You should define exactly what duties each partner has before you enter an agreement.
- A partner whose values appear to change. If you are driven by more than economics in your efforts and projects, you need a partner who has the same values and doesn’t change those values along the way to make a few bucks. If that partner starts pushing and shoving on petty issues, you may need to re-evaluate the agreement.
If you’ve committed to an agreement and shared your brand or created a new co-branded project, it can be hard to free yourself when the marriage or the project sours.
When things go wrong, our instinct is to turn tail and run without looking over our shoulders at the havoc that’s been created.
Break-ups are never easy but it’s crucial to face them in the right way to protect your brand. The damage to your reputation is at stake.
If you find out your partner has acted unprofessionally or has been untruthful, you need to go on the offense. Here’s some of what you should do:
- Have an exit strategy in place before you start. After all, this is a business relationship, not a commitment to a person with whom you’re supposedly in love. You should have a prenuptial agreement in place before you enter the partnership. In fact, if you truly put your image and brand first, you should think about establishing a protocol that instantly freezes what will happen if the agreement doesn’t work out. What happens with leads and prospects? Who will do what to ensure an amiable, smooth parting?
- With individual partners, you also should develop a checklist of joint assets and efforts that will be terminated immediately if things go wrong so that you have specific actions to take.
- Your exit strategy needs to address every place the two of you have touched together, which should be included on your checklist and kept up to date. That means you need to be prepared to take down websites, cease use of jointly developed logos, brochures, and printed products, stop using the joint phone number or contact location, pull down any landing pages you’ve created together on the internet.
As the world of real estate becomes more complicated, our need to share costs and our desire to find new channels for marketing grows.
A partnership can go a long way toward building a business while sharing costs.
At the same time, while no one wants to enter an agreement or project thinking about how it might fail, you need to ensure you’re protected before you launch.
Be assured, it hurts a lot more if you’re unprepared for the separation.