Successful Strategic Alliances: 5 Examples of Companies Doing it Right

UPDATE: Check out the ebook linked at the bottom of this post with tips on how to apply 7 companies’ successes to your business.

Just because two things don’t seem to go together at first, doesn’t mean they aren’t a great pair. At first glance, some companies may seem to not have much in common, but after a little closer look you might find some similarities — Customer bases with common interests, the ability to leverage one client pool with another, or even just a symbiotic partnership that continues behind the scenes for years.

For most strategic alliances, the companies involved have the ability to reach further out within a prospective customer pool. And with two sales teams working in the channel, that means you have access to twice as many prospects than if you were working alone. And let’s not forget co-branded marketing content. Below are five examples of strategic alliances that paid off in a huge way.

Ford and Eddie Bauer

You might remember the Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer edition. Premium leather seats and other luxury features throughout the vehicle. Then aside from the car itself, Eddie Bauer was producing luggage sets with Ford branding on them. These co-branded items were great advertising points for both companies.

The main selling point was that the vehicle filled a niche that was previously held by foreign automakers: the luxury SUV market. When Ford partnered with Eddie Bauer, the consumers clamoring for a finely outfitted sports utility vehicle produced on American soil were satiated.

Spotify and Uber

Leaping forward to a very recent piece of news, Spotify and Uber have partnered to provide stereo control to Uber customers. Not every Spotify consumer uses Uber, nor does every Uber rider have a Spotify account. The strategic alliance allows each company to pursue prospects from the other’s existing customer base, all while continuing to promote both products.

In both cases, it gives the company a leg up over its competition. Spotify is offering something with the Premium package that other streaming services do not yet have. And likewise, Uber can provide the riders with an opportunity to listen to their own playlists as opposed to other ride-share services that cannot match them yet.

Google and Luxottica

Luxury eyewear and cutting edge technology. While you might not think of them working together, oddly enough the partnership is exactly what was needed for each company to get ahead in the market.

Luxottica can provide premium quality eyewear to the luxury market, with a justification that the technology is what is driving the price, and maintain and increase their market share by diversifying the customer base. Google on the other hand, can provide technology that has a touch of luxury, and reach consumers that may be seeking eyewear that has the premium look, regardless of the technology.

Hewlett-Packard and Disney

This alliance formed back when Mr. Hewlett, Mr. Packard, and Mr. Disney were all still involved with their respective companies. During the creation of Fantasia, Disney purchased some audio equipment from Hewlett-Packard. The strategic alliance continued onwards, as Disney relied heavily on HP’s development and IT team for it’s own infrastructure.

In fact, at current-day Disney attractions, the Imagineering team is still quite married to the HP systems architecture. During the design and build phase of Disney’s Mission:SPACE, HP engineers and Disney imagineers were working side by side to create the most technologically-advanced ride yet.

Starbucks and Barnes & Noble

Here’s a matchup that has stood the test of time. Whereas many brick and mortar bookstores have folded due to lack of customer base, the few that have formed strategic alliances have continued to prosper. One example would be Barnes & Noble, partnering with Starbucks.

Over the years, Starbucks has become synonymous with coffee. Like it or hate it, you instantly recognize the name. With a Starbucks location in most (if not all) Barnes & Noble bookstores, customers have twice the reason to shop there. Coffee break, and browse the latest bestsellers shelf all in one stop.

While we at Allbound are not claiming that this strategic alliance has kept Barnes & Noble’s doors open, it is worth pointing out that many of its major competitors have since closed up shop. In a time when digital media sales are constantly on the rise, purveyors of printed literature need to be savvy to stay in business. Barnes and Noble has certainly tried to stay ahead of the curve.

Note that in all five cases, the companies that formed these strategic alliances did not share much in common prior to their partnership. The one common point might be the customer base, albeit an indirect relationship in most cases. Most likely, the marketing teams for both corporations began by reviewing potential strategic alliances and determining whether the partnership would be beneficial in both long and short term.

For your own channel partnership, following this pattern may be fruitful as well by potentially doubling your prospect pool. Working with your channel partners to encourage co-branding, as well as educating them on sales content, will ensure that your channel partnership is as successful as possible.

Want more? Check out this ebook from Allbound, “Learning From the Best: 7 Successful Strategic Alliances” with tips on how to apply their success to your business.

I originally published this on August 16, 2016 here.