We recently partnered with 99Designs. This post is inspired by that process.
In the technology world one of the phrases we hear frequently is “Web 2.0.” Ask five people what that means and you will get five different answers. So where does one turn for the true definition? Why of course your voice-activated smart phone …
“OK Google …”
We have seen this evolution of technology actually lead to an evolution of philosophy, and it is powerful. Five or more years ago, if you even mentioned the word “partnership,” you would have had attorneys in the room that day trying to define and document every nuance. The rapid evolution of the web (and therefore business), has birthed a new form of partnership. One far more fluid, responsive and open to potential. One based on shared expectations, not legal documents.
We Need to Keep It Simple
People and companies who organize events are constantly looking for ways to efficiently connect their sponsors and/or exhibitors to their audience. Until recently, these efforts have been limited to time and place (e.g. logos at the event) or stale technology tools (e.g. email). We created Virtual Event Bags to provide a far superior alternative. We built the software to be easy to use and turn-key, meaning it handles the entire process of creating, sharing and reporting on sponsor related content.
One of the key challenges we needed to solve was simplifying the creation of sponsor content. If you’ve ever had to ask a group of people to submit digital content to a certain specification by a certain time … you will know what I mean. Nightmare.
We wanted to eliminate the need for the Event Organizer, famous for running lean, to create content for their sponsors/exhibitors. We also knew, from first hand experience, that Events work with sponsors that often have little design or technical expertise, and even less time.
We therefore developed a tool, creatively named the “Content Builder.” The event organizer shares access to this tool with its Sponsors / Exhibitors, enabling them to build a digital placement in just a few minutes. We took considerable time to simplify the process, particularly the digital images, so that *any* sponsor could create content.
But with software (and user experience) one is never done. We knew there were some wicked-cool tools out on the InterWebs that could make this experience even better for the Sponsors of our customers. That is when we approached 99Designs.
99Designs is an online marketplace for graphic designers. They have a network of over 850,000 designers around the globe that can help with a wide variety of design needs. From logos to clothing.
We loved the idea of giving sponsors the opportunity to leverage the 99Designs network to create the imagery for their placement within the Virtual Event Bag. Even better, 99Designs recently launched a service that will provide this type of image for $19 … within an hour!
The team at 99Designs quickly understood our need and shared our vision. There were no formal agreements, no multi-party conference calls and no “we’ll need to get this approved” to slow things down. Partnership 2.0.
We did however, follow a simple framework:
- Clearly articulate expectations. What do each of you need from the other to make this a success?
- What is success? What is each party expecting to learn or develop from this partnership?
- When and how will we monitor progress? Agree on a pre-determined check-in to review results and discuss next steps.
To be fair, this is not an economic partnership. But I think that is exactly the point. Many times we jump to economics before we get “user generated feedback” on whether or not the partnership even makes sense. In web parlance, we launched our “MVP” (minimum viable product) version, from which both sides will learn, adapt and then use that data to proceed with a more formal agreement, if that makes sense for both sides.
We encourage you, Event professionals, to look for creative ways to partner with other professionals and providers. Any services that are tangential to help deliver an even better experience for your sponsors and attendees is a win 2.0.
If you want a deep dive on the evolution to Web 2.0, check out this article from our friends at O’Reilly Media (also a client).