Sample Partnership Proposal Makeover
Review the "before"
version of this sample makeover of a
Below is my diagnosis of the
flaws in the "before" version of
Michael Nelson's proposal for a strategic
First, I have no idea what this company has to
offer. The letter does not clearly explain the
product or service to which the partnership
relates. For all I know they could be selling
order forms or something else that has no clear
relation to what I do. Without clicking over to
its web site (which the note gives me no reason
to do), I am not sure what their product or
service is, who it benefits and why, how much
money - if any - is involved and how it differs
from other products/services in its category.
Second and more importantly, the letter did not
give me any compelling reason to investigate
this opportunity even the slightest bit. What
would I get out of this partnership? The word
"resell" implies that there would be
money in this for me, but that's much too vague
to spark interest.
Third, the letter comes across as just shy of
spam. Although he used my name, I don't think he
really looked at my site. Thus this note is the
email equivalent of a cold call, and about as
Fourth, calling the arrangement he appears to
have in mind a "partnership" may be a
misnomer. He seems to want me to become a
distributor. Accordingly, the phrase
"starting a dialogue" doesn't really
apply here, either. Dialogue implies a
discussion about the final form an alliance
In sum, if you want to make connections for a
strategic alliance, clearly explain who you are
and what you do; differentiate your offering
from competitors'; make a personal connection
with the recipient of the letter; explain what's
in the alliance for the partner and how the
arrangement would be a win-win. Another key to a
good strategic alliance proposal: what problem
does your proposed alliance solve for your
Now here is my revised version
of the proposal. (Please note that there
is no corresponding web site, since I disguised
the identity of the sender.)
The "After" Version
Dear Marcia Yudkin:
As a company that has a large established
customer base of small businesses and nonprofit
organizations, we have a constant stream of
traffic at our Web site. Since you also market
to these populations but with a content-based
rather than a product-based approach, we propose
a mutually beneficial alliance. We'd like to
feature some of your content at our Web site and
in return enable you to sell our product line on
unusually favorable terms.
We create and sell preprinted color paper that
gives someone's brochures, sales sheets,
announcements, etc. a customized design look
without the expense of hiring a designer or
four-color printing. You are probably
familiar with our biggest competitor, Paper
Direct, but unlike them we keep strict controls
on how long any particular design circulates in
the marketplace to reduce the chances of a
negative impression from a recipient having
already seen one of our designs.
Please take a look at our Web site, at http://www.detunnipaper.com.
I'll call you in a few days to discuss how we
might work together.
DeTunni Systems, Inc.
Preprinted Paper Solutions
Now what makes this letter
First, it captures my attention by naming two
markets we have in common. The minute I
read the first sentence, my mind starts working
on how we can complement each other's efforts to
reach those markets. This letter recognizes that
the actual product in question is not as
important as the market(s) reached.
Second, unlike the first letter, this one
explains the product clearly. It also
addresses any negative impression I may have (as
indeed I do have) about this product category.
Third, the letter strikes an excellent balance
between on the one hand suggesting a specific
kind of deal and also leaving open the
possibility that discussion between us might
lead to another kind of arrangement. When
proposing a strategic alliance, you should make
clear that creating a win-win for both sides has
top priority. In fact, I would not be
interested in the suggestion this letter
contains, but the rest of the letter motivates
me to call or email immediately to see what we
can work out.
Fourth, this letter is patently not spam. It
includes specific information that lets me know
the other side is approaching me in particular,
not everyone whose site has come up in a search
In sum, when approaching people about a
strategic alliance, make the complementarity of
what you each have to offer immediately obvious;
clearly explain what you do; propose something
but indicate that you're flexible; and greatly
personalize your communications.
If you'd like a free,
no-obligation quote on a sales letter makeover,
simply email your draft to Marcia
Want to learn to perform
makeovers like this one - and get paid for your
skill? Check out the Marketing
Protégé Program, a one-on-one tutorial
that trains you to become a marketing consultant
in 10 weeks.
Copyright 2000 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.