I have a saying...."Always sign a Partner Agreement with a company that you trust and want to partner with - never sign one with a company that you don't trust and do not want to partner with".
You might think it's a pretty logical 'next step', yet you would be surprised as to how many companies launch their Marketing Partnership without even a simple Term Sheet, let alone a Partnership Marketing Agreement.
The importance of the Agreement cannot be understated. It's crucial. After all, if you are sharing assets and collaborating on your marketing initiatives and splitting revenues on top of it, shouldn't there be a document that outlines the relationship and the responsibilities and obligations for both parties?
Everything from where you must place their logo on your website, to the details of the unique 'partner offer' that you are making available, to metrics that must be shared all the way to who owns the relationship with the end customer that is actually buying the product. Partnership Marketing Agreements can vary and not all of them must be that detailed and complex, yet it's important that the following components are included when looking to draft yours:
1. DEFINE THE MARKETING PARTNERSHIP
- What is this Marketing Partnership about and what does it mean to be partners?
- What does each company have to do and what are they responsible for in the partnership? What have you negotiated? This includes everything from lead generating activities, to the products that are being promoted and the standards by which they will be promoted. This may include the frequency by which each party does so, as well.
3. TRADEMARKS & BRANDING
- Which trademarks and cross licenses and brands have been made available for use? How should they be used and where should they be used?
4. MARKETING PLANS
- A detailed overview of the marketing plan to market the other parties products and services. Everything from placements, to channels being used, media, email marketing and anything else that is relevant.
- How long is the term of the partnership and how can it be terminated if necessary? Are we talking about 1 year? 2 years? Be sure to outline a time-line that makes sense and will allow the Marketing Partnership to flourish, but at the same time will not lock it in too long, should parties want to go their separate ways.
- How are payments being made? Who is collecting the transactional revenue and who is paying the other partner? What currency is being used to make the payments and what form will they be in? Wire transfer? Check? Need to be specific on payments and collecting revenues. Will they be made monthly? Quarterly?
7. TRACKING & REPORTING
- Which key metrics apply? What is to be tracked and what needs to be reported and when to the other party? Who is tracking what? Leads, conversions, sales, etc...Think of all the metrics and even be sure to outline the commitments or targets, if you will. Perhaps you have an exclusive Marketing Partnership whereas the marketing partner must achieve certain sales targets to keep their exclusivity? Be sure that it's included in there!
Naturally, your Partnership Marketing Agreements should contain all the necessary legal clauses like Confidentiality, Disclaimers, Warranties and Liabilities beyond the Marketing clauses I have listed above. Be sure to speak to a lawyer about those items and ensure that you are protected. When Marketing through a third party, it's important to have an Agreement that you can refer back to should any disputes every arise about the nature of the Marketing Partnership and what is expected by both sides.
Ron Kunitzky, an expert in strategic business affiliations and partnerships and founder of Geyser Marketing Group " the Partnership Marketing Firm, and has successfully brokered partnership marketing programs for companies as varied as Coastal Contacts, Dell Computer, NASDAQ, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.