This article originally appeared in VentureBeat.
This is Part 4 of a four-part series about what you need to know about the entire value chain of doing business development and partnerships at a startup company. The posts are skewed for product integrations on third-party websites. Check out Part 3 to learn what you need to close a deal. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Boom! Deal closed. They signed the contract or began integration of your offering. Don’t take out the champagne just yet. You are not out of the woods (and probably will never be if you have a worthwhile business to steal).
Launching the partnership and managing the relationship may not be the most talked about part of the cycle but it is probably the most important.
Launching A Partnership
There are a few ways you can go about launching partnerships. If you are releasing new features, and have a few third-party integrations for the launch then it is worthwhile embargoing the announcement to a few outlets. Sometimes bigger outlets lead (WSJ, NYT, BW, Forbes, Fortune, CNN, Fast Company, Wired, etc) and get the post out a few minutes before. Other times you don’t have a major outlet leading but you have all the awesome people at Venturebeat, TC, Business Insider, Mashable, The Next Web, Pandodaily, Betabeat, The Verge, GigaOM, RRW, etc., release it at the same time.
I recommend going the embargoed route if you have multiple launch partners, this way you can give different stories to each outlet. Readers don’t like reading and press doesn’t like writing the same thing over and over. When I was at Aviary, we would write up stories on a whiteboard and then match up the appropriate outlets based on readership. I learned this from press-extraordinaire and Aviary co-founder, Michael Galpert.
If you don’t have a major feature announcement and only have one big partner coming on board, then it is worthwhile giving it as an exclusive to one major outlet. If you don’t have a major feature announcement and the partner isn’t a big one (which isn’t a bad thing, just a fact), then you should write a blog post, include them in the next blast out to your users, and share it on FB and Twitter. You should always promote integrations of your product, by helping expose partners to your user-base.
We’ve Launched, Now What?
Hopefully you’ve had a successful launch and the partner is very happy with the outcome. Now it’s time to make sure they continue to stay happy. Make sure your partner support is astounding! Listen to their feedback. If you have something worthwhile there will probably be a competitor vying for the same deal.
If your partner is talking to you and giving you feedback, listen! Take their feedback, comments, etc., and turn it into an improved solution for them. This will help you keep their business for the long run. Why would they switch to your competitor when they know you will listen and help them with any problem? They wouldn’t.
Don’t be afraid to give your partner some feedback on the integration. However, tread carefully. If their integration looks a bit off (i.e. they added an edit button with your photo editor but hid it under a drop-down), then try to show them the light as to how the integration can be improved.
In these past four posts, I’ve written about identifying and connecting with companies, pitching and closing, and now launching and managing. These tips will definitely come in handy if you are getting started in the partnerships world. There is a lot more to learn and as I learn I will try my best to share any additional insights with you. Now go out there and close some deals.