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Sample Partnership Proposal Makeover
"After" Version

Review the "before" version of this sample makeover of a partnership proposal.

Below is my diagnosis of the flaws in the "before" version of Michael Nelson's proposal for a strategic alliance.

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 interesting.

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 would take.

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 respondent?

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   I'll call you in a few days to discuss how we might work together. 


Michael Nelson
DeTunni Systems, Inc.
Preprinted Paper Solutions

#  #

Now what makes this letter better?

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 engine.

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.

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If you'd like a free, no-obligation quote on a sales letter makeover, simply email your draft to Marcia Yudkin.

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.

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