Embedding a Story into Your Partner Value Proposition

by | May 6, 2024

Why does your Partner Value Proposition need a stellar narrative?

Build­ing suc­cess­ful busi­ness part­ner­ships is cru­cial for growth, yet estab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing these rela­tion­ships can be chal­leng­ing. Often, much effort goes into recruit­ing and onboard­ing part­ners, only to see them become dis­en­gaged over time.

Through my expe­ri­ence with Don­ald Miller’s 7‑step Sto­ry­Brand frame­work, I’ve seen its strong impact not just in buy­er-sell­er dynam­ics but also in fos­ter­ing B2B part­ner­ships. This frame­work excels at cre­at­ing engag­ing nar­ra­tives that cap­ti­vate your audi­ence. It empha­sizes mak­ing your part­ner the cen­tral hero of the sto­ry with your brand as the guid­ing men­tor, help­ing them over­come hur­dles and achieve their goals.

Your part­ners enter a part­ner­ship for their own rea­sons, not yours. If a part­ner­ship does­n’t ben­e­fit your part­ner, they lose inter­est and become unre­spon­sive. To cre­ate an attrac­tive part­ner val­ue propo­si­tion that sparks com­mit­ment and leads to a prof­itable part­ner­ship, you need to tell and exe­cute a sto­ry that makes your part­ner the hero.

To forge a last­ing and prof­itable part­ner­ship, you must craft a val­ue propo­si­tion that posi­tions your part­ner as the hero—this nar­ra­tive could be the key to sus­tained success.


The 7 Steps Framework

by Don­ald Miller’s Book “Build­ing a Sto­ry­Brand”.

Source StoryBrand

By apply­ing this frame­work to cre­ate your part­ner val­ue propo­si­tion, you can build a nar­ra­tive that speaks direct­ly to your part­ner’s needs, desires, and pain points. It shifts the focus from your com­pa­ny’s fea­tures and ben­e­fits to the trans­for­ma­tive out­comes your part­ners can achieve through the partnership.


A Character…

Define your part­ner’s desire. Your part­ner is the hero of your sto­ry, not your brand.

Like you, your ide­al part­ner is on a mis­sion to sur­vive and thrive in today’s com­pet­i­tive land­scape. In the post-“Growth at any Cost” era, com­pa­nies increas­ing­ly turn to part­ner­ships as a means to achieve prof­itable or cap­i­tal-effi­cient growth. They rec­og­nize that by join­ing forces, they can cre­ate syn­er­gies and unlock val­ue that would­n’t be pos­si­ble alone (1+1=3).

Remem­ber: Part­ners Are Peo­ple! When devel­op­ing your part­ner val­ue propo­si­tion, it’s cru­cial to remem­ber that your part­ner is not an abstract enti­ty but a person—the deci­sion-mak­er and team with­in your part­ner com­pa­ny. Part­ner­ships are col­lab­o­ra­tive rela­tion­ships that require more than just a signed agree­ment; they need lead­er­ship com­mit­ment and exec­u­tive spon­sor­ship to tru­ly thrive.

By under­stand­ing your part­ner’s desires, focus­ing on the indi­vid­u­als dri­ving the part­ner­ship, and demon­strat­ing how your brand can sup­port their growth objec­tives, you’ll be well on your way to cre­at­ing a part­ner val­ue propo­si­tion that res­onates and inspires action.


…Has a Problem…

Iden­ti­fy and address the prob­lems your part­ner is fac­ing. This is the con­flict that dri­ves the narrative.

Your part­ner may be fac­ing var­i­ous chal­lenges that hin­der their suc­cess. These can be cat­e­go­rized into three types:

Exter­nal Problems

  • Acquir­ing or retain­ing customers
  • Expand­ing into new mar­kets or cus­tomer segments
  • Enhanc­ing prod­uct offer­ings to stay competitive

Inter­nal Problems

  • Lack of resources or exper­tise in build­ing suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship programs
  • Lead­er­ship is expe­ri­enced in trans­ac­tion­al but not col­lab­o­ra­tive relationships
  • Insuf­fi­cient sup­port sys­tems for partnerships

Philo­soph­i­cal Problems

  • Lack of align­ment with part­ners’ val­ues or mission
  • Unclear pur­pose or role in the market
  • Dif­fi­cul­ty trust­ing oth­ers due to past experiences
  • Fear of los­ing con­trol or auton­o­my in partnerships
  • Unclear pri­or­i­ties or con­flict­ing goals

By under­stand­ing these prob­lems, you can bet­ter tai­lor your val­ue propo­si­tion to address your part­ner’s spe­cif­ic chal­lenges and concerns.


…And Meets a Guide…

Present your brand or part­ner pro­gram as a guide. Your role is to help the hero (your part­ner) over­come their problem.

Peo­ple, like your part­ner, seek out guides who under­stand their prob­lems, demon­strate empa­thy, and show­case exper­tise in guid­ing them effec­tive­ly towards a com­mon goal. By posi­tion­ing your brand as a trust­ed guide, you can build trust and cred­i­bil­i­ty with your partner.

As a part­ner, they want to ensure they’re “bet­ting on the right horse” and invest­ing their time and resources wise­ly. They need reas­sur­ance that your brand is expe­ri­enced in part­ner­ships and oper­ates with a part­ner-cen­tric approach. They require sup­port and enable­ment to suc­ceed, and it’s essen­tial to demon­strate a deep under­stand­ing of their needs and challenges.

By estab­lish­ing your­self as a trust­ed guide, you can alle­vi­ate these con­cerns and cre­ate a pow­er­ful foun­da­tion for a suc­cess­ful partnership.


…Who Gives Them a Plan…

Out­line the part­ner pro­gram your brand pro­vides to solve the part­ner’s problem.

Your part­ner needs a clear direc­tion to over­come their chal­lenges. That’s where a well-struc­tured part­ner pro­gram comes in — a pro­gram that pro­vides a roadmap for suc­cess, guid­ing them through each stage of the part­ner­ship jour­ney. By offer­ing a plan, you demon­strate your exper­tise and com­mit­ment to their suc­cess, fur­ther build­ing trust and cred­i­bil­i­ty in your partnership.

This com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram includes:

  • Onboard­ing sup­port to ensure a smooth start
  • Train­ing and enable­ment to dri­ve growth
  • Reg­u­lar check-ins to address chal­lenges and opportunities
  • Access to exclu­sive resources and tools for con­tin­ued success

…And Calls Them to Action…

Out­line the series of col­lab­o­ra­tive steps that will guide your part­ner toward a suc­cess­ful partnership.

The part­ner­ship pro­gram ini­ti­ates a mutu­al onboard­ing process, where both par­ties work togeth­er to estab­lish a strong foun­da­tion for their col­lab­o­ra­tive rela­tion­ship. This extend­ed call to action involves a series of coor­di­nat­ed steps, cul­mi­nat­ing in a joint action plan that sets the stage for a fruit­ful partnership.

Unlike a tra­di­tion­al sales trans­ac­tion, this is not a sin­gle “call to action” but rather a col­lab­o­ra­tive jour­ney that requires mutu­al com­mit­ment and effort. The true “action” begins after the part­ner­ship agree­ment is signed, as both par­ties embark on a 90–120 day onboard­ing process that sets the tone for a suc­cess­ful partnership.


…That Helps Them Avoid Failure…

Out­line the risks of not act­ing. This is the poten­tial dis­as­ter that your part­ner wants to avoid.

By not par­tic­i­pat­ing, the part­ner may miss out on:

Key growth oppor­tu­ni­ties, lead­ing to stag­na­tion or decline in a com­pet­i­tive market

  • Access to inno­v­a­tive solu­tions, tech­nolo­gies, or exper­tise that could enhance their business
  • Valu­able net­work effects, col­lab­o­ra­tive ben­e­fits, and joint val­ue creation
  • Increased rev­enue, prof­itabil­i­ty, and mar­ket share
  • The abil­i­ty to stay ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion and remain innovative

Adjust accord­ing to your prod­uct and scope of the part­ner program.


…And Ends in Success…

Describe the suc­cess­ful res­o­lu­tion. This is the hap­py end­ing that your part­ner wants to achieve.

By part­ner­ing with your brand, the part­ner achieves a com­pet­i­tive edge, dri­ving busi­ness growth, and suc­cess through:

  • Accel­er­at­ed inno­va­tion and time-to-market
  • Enhanced prod­uct offer­ings and expand­ed cus­tomer reach
  • Improved cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and loyalty
  • Increased rev­enue, prof­itabil­i­ty, and mar­ket share
  • A strong, col­lab­o­ra­tive ecosys­tem that fos­ters mutu­al success

While over 80% of part­ner­ships fail, a Uni­ver­si­ty of St. Gallen study (source: BCG Arti­cle) indi­cates that poor part­ner selec­tion and lack of com­mit­ment account for about 75% of these fail­ures. Suc­cess in part­ner­ships is not just about how many part­ner you have, but how well you engage and inspire them to com­mit, par­tic­i­pate, and col­lab­o­rate. Using the 7 Steps Sto­ry­Brand Frame­work in your part­ner propo­si­tions is an effec­tive way to deeply under­stand and address your part­ners’ busi­ness needs and chal­lenges, high­light­ing your sup­port­ive role in guid­ing them toward success.


Join the Conversation

Found this frame­work help­ful or have tips to share?

Have you applied the Sto­ry­Brand frame­work in ways that enhanced your part­ner­ships? If you found this frame­work help­ful, or if you have addi­tion­al tips for apply­ing it with­in part­ner val­ue propo­si­tions, please share your thoughts.