Across the pharmaceutical industry, companies are forming specialized partnerships to meet the needs of their business and the market. With the right strategic partner, you can expand and strengthen your service offerings or product portfolio and better fulfill your customers’ needs. You will likely spend hours and significant resources on negotiating, forming, and solidifying a partnership. While these tasks are critical, what about the marketing aspects?
You will need a comprehensive marketing program to ensure you communicate the benefits so that you don’t miss out on commercial gains.
To illustrate some of the key steps toward a successful partnership, we talked to our client, Clinipace, and its new partner, Oracle Health Sciences (who recently acquired goBalto) provider of industry leading study startup solutions. In this case, Clinipace was seeking a best-in-class technology solution to help differentiate its services and create operational efficiencies in clinical trial startup.
How do you find and select the right partner?
Jason and Craig emphasized that a strategic partnership’s success must begin with a shared foundation. When looking for an ideal partner, their organizations ensure that their prospective partner offers complementary products or services but is not a direct competitor.
“We look for partners who are reliable, collaborative, strong communicators, and considered experts in their industry.”
– Jason, Clinipace
“Our picture-perfect partner is future-conscious and looking to accelerate their trials and speed treatments to market with higher quality insights.”
– Craig, Oracle Health Sciences
Jason and Craig shared the steps they took before beginning their business partnership:
- Identify your business need
Where is the gap between what you are offering and what is desired?
- Outline your ideal solution
How will your partner support or enhance your current service offerings?
- Develop partner selection criteria
Does this potential partner share your goals and strategic vision?
- Clearly define the benefits and risks of entering into an agreement
Is this partner trustworthy and committed to success?
Once you understand what it is you are looking for, get out there and find the kinds of companies that fit your framework: Search the web, attend networking events, reach out to your investors’ and advisors’ networks, and leverage your existing relationships.
As you close in on a partner target, it’s important that you each have time to evaluate the relationship and figure out what investments and business decisions need to be made so the agreement is successful before closing the deal. The outcome should be a clear business plan that establishes your value to one another, outlines your partnership’s goals and objectives, and clearly identifies the benefits for your clients.
How do you inform your clients of a new partnership?
Congratulations! Your new partnership has given you an advantage over your competition. But, how do you inform your customers? Gather your stakeholders and start by creating a value proposition and key messages. Through this partnership, what are the differentiators that now make you stand out from your competition? How do your customers gain a competitive advantage by your ability to serve them?
Once you have determined your value proposition and the most important messages to communicate, invest in promoting them. Be sure your customers know how your investment is helping them. After all, that’s why you did it in the first place. A complete strategic marketing program can help you get the word out. Consider where your target audience looks for information and devise a plan to reach them.
Your plan should identify a variety of tactics and distribution avenues, including a press release, website update, trade show materials, digital ads, emails, social media, other collateral (e.g., case study, sell sheet, RFI language), and a robust thought leadership program, including joint panel presentations/speaking opportunities, articles in industry publications, webinars/podcasts, and symposia. Then, with your value proposition and main messaging in hand, you can start developing your content for these tactics.
At SCORR, our experience allows us to help you clearly and succinctly articulate the unique advantages of your strategic agreement, then promote it.
How do you sustain and benefit from a successful partnership?
A successful partnership is one that allows you and your partner to benefit long-term through innovations and efficiencies based on mutually desired outcomes. Making your relationship as productive as possible requires a dedicated team and shared goals where both stakeholders have a vested interest in the outcome.
For Clinipace and Oracle, open and transparent communications, along with a foundation of trust and commitment, are keys to their long-term success, their executives said.
“Oracle has been an ideal partner in our pursuit to improve study tracking, standardize processes, and achieve critical oversight of our projects. They understand the direction of our Clarity Stack® clinical technology and are quick to adapt to our needs.”
– Jason, Clinipace
“Working closely with Clinipace will help us ensure we are meeting their requirements, expectations, and supporting them appropriately as they make this transition. We have vested interests for our mutual success and have committed to providing the technological solutions to achieve our goals.”
– Craig, Oracle Health Sciences
By moving to an entirely cloud-based study startup, Clinipace has enabled visibility, consistent tracking, and a standardized process across the organization and from study to study. In these ways, Clinipace has added value for its customers, paving the way for better sales, increased customer loyalty, and a stronger bottom line — all hallmarks of a successful, long-term partnership.
Strategic partnerships are employed to enable companies to better serve their clients. Identifying and selecting the right partner is an arduous and important process, and operational alignment and synergies are essential to success. After the right partner is selected, however, the critical step of communicating the benefits of the partnership is all too often neglected. Maximize the return on your partnership by comprehensively marketing the increased benefits you can now provide to your clients. You will be happy you did.