Alliance Strategy Realignment: Finding Opportunity in Economic Disruption

Posted: 11/27/2008 by Norma Watenpaugh

Have you rethought your alliance strategy in terms of what new opportunities lie ahead? Are you prepared to find the opportunity in disruption? We can assume that business as usual is not going to work in today's volatile economic climate because business has become unusual. Yet, disruptive times are times of great opportunity for those who are alert in spotting them.

I recently dusted off a white paper written in 2004 which discussed the results of Cisco's alliance strategy during the dot.com implosion. By continuing to invest in alliances and realigning their strategy, Cisco generated 12% growth in alliance revenueduring a time of economic contraction. In today's environment, they are realigning their alliances around technologies they believe will address shifting buyer behavior. With businesses restricting travel to control costs, telepresence is a lower cost alternative to business travel and has stronger appeal now than in prosperous times.

A colleague of mine works with partners who specialize in the financial sector. I erroneously assumed that his business cratered with the financial institutions. I was wrong.Business is booming.Financial institutionsare facing mergers, acquisitions, and consolidation. They are addressing compliance and regulatory issues that were overlooked, leading to this crises and looking ahead to new regulations and compliance issues that are likely to be legislated. My colleague is in a unique position to help solve the big problems these businesses are facing.

In the last downturn a marketing colleague shifted all marketing spending to co-marketing with partners resulting in lead generation at half the costs. A bonus of this strategy was that cross marketing on partner house lists yielded much higher quality leads.

Follow the shifts in buying behavior. Spending might be reduced in a recession, but it also shifts. Buying behavior changes. Smart businesses realign their strategies to take advantage of those shifts. In the last downturn, there was greater emphasis oncost saving technologies. Webinars replaced seminars. Companies that marketed those technologies, such as WebEx, did well even as many internet companies collapsed.

Solve the big problems created by disruption. The financial sector is not the only industry facing restructure. Auto manufacturers, transportation companies, pharmaceuticals, and retailers are facing industry restructuring. These are opportunities for those who can address those pain points and provide solutions. How can you realign your alliance strategy to focus on where companies will be compelled to spend to stay viable?

Share costs and opportunities. Leverage partner marketing and combine forces to provide even stronger customer value.

Disruption creates opportunity and those who weather the economic climate successfully will be those who can adapt their strategy to take advantage of the changes ahead.

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