Partner Up

Jan 21, 2013

Every entrepreneur knows there can be countless obstacles along the road to creating a successful event. This can entail anything from finding a venue to garnering sponsorship, marketing support, and even attracting attendees. Before you start doling out a ton of cash, take the time to consider a joint venture. Joint ventures are quite simply a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more parties who have complementary strengths. When planning a joint venture, here’s what you need to do.

Create a List of Potential Partners

Whether you’re looking for a venue, food and wine sponsors, media coverage, or goodie-bag items, start off by creating a top 10 list of potential partners or joint-venture candidates. Identify brands that have a mission, values, and a target audience in line with your company. For instance, if your company offers luxury spa products, you might do well to seek out a high-end salon rather than a corporate law office.

Decide What You Can Offer

Once you have completed the list, establish what it is that your company can offer in return. Can you offer visibility to potential clients through your website, the invitation, or even at the event? Do you have a massive mailing list you can use to send a promo? Can you provide free samples of, or discounts on, your product or service to their audience?

Go in for the Ask

When reaching out to potential partners, start off with a simple one-pager that explains your concept and what’s in it for them. Once you get a meeting, ask your potential partner about their business goals and how you can help. This will allow you two to create a mutually beneficial relationship beyond what you may have even imagined. When reaching out to potential partners, strategically align yourself with a powerful brand from the start; this will increase the appeal of your event as you continue to develop other partnerships and marketing. Consider giving an extra special incentive to an impressive partner so you can spark the momentum.

Draft a Clear Agreement

After getting the green light from your partners-to-be, drafting the terms of your joint venture is an important step in terms of clarifying expectations. Contracts or signed agreements are always a good idea. Make sure that you have a common vision of what will be accomplished and of the value being contributed. Depending on the stakes and size of the event, it may be a good idea to have your lawyer review your contract.

Free Yourself Up

Hopefully one of your partners is an event planner, but if not, you can always find event-planning interns from a local college, or volunteers to lend a helping hand.

Extend the Buzz

In your list of potential partners, make sure to include any media, blogger, or community that caters to your audience. Co-promote with these partners and offer them a special discount off of your event, products, or services. Make it easy for them by preparing Tweets and messaging that they can easily send out. We also recommend having a social media or “real-time” reporter at your event: they start at about $100 per event and can be an enormously helpful resource in terms of generating exposure. Readily display hashtags or Facebook check-ins specific to your event where attendees can post and connect.

Lastly, don’t forget to follow up with your partners as soon as possible after the event to summarize your shared success and discuss the possibility of future collaborations.

Stella Grizont and Karla Lightfoot are managing directors of Ladies Who Launch, NYC; Judith Meer is their awesome intern. Their contact information can be found at

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