Synergy is Not a Four Letter Word

It’s hard to know when it’s going to hit you.

You could be simply walking along the street minding your own business. Or you could be staring out the window trying to figure out how to make the impossible possible. Or you could be in the middle of a pitch meeting, doing your thing, when all of a sudden it hits you.

It is that sudden moment of creative inspiration born of the perfect aligning of multiple forces between organizations, partners or even competitors.

Synergy is the oft-derided word that lost its luster two decades ago when everyone was talking about synergies between companies, and while it was an accurate word to use – too many companies used it but failed to capitalize on its promise.

Well, I’m here to say, welcome to the 1990’s because synergy is here and will be for years to come. If you’re lucky, you’ll figure out the best way to use it for your own cause, and if done correctly, everyone will come away from the project stronger, more successful and ready for another chance to put synergy to work again.

Synergy in its most basic form is an element found in almost all marketing. It is not a foreign substance, yet it is very powerful. The idea that two organizations can both benefit at equal levels seems like common sense, but yet is avoided, or possibly misunderstood. If you are able to add a third or fourth partner even better, but the impact can start to become diluted with too many partners.

But in the end, it’s usually the consumer that will benefit the most.  And who’s not for that?

In the world of arts marketing we’re in the business to promote the arts – and in whatever space you do that from presentation to creation to education, the idea is to get a critical mass of support behind you for you to do your work. We can all agree that it is simply impossible to go it alone, so you must look for strategic partnership to explore potential synergies.

Once you have the basics of an idea fleshed out, it’s time for you to go to work trying to find the right partner. This is easier said than done, but because of the position of arts and the cause you represent, you have a better chance than most to make a connection that eventually will pan out.

Do not confuse these sorts of synergistic relationships with sponsorships. While they may eventually wind up being such, you’re really looking for something that’s much deeper and longer lasting. Most for-profit partners will respect you if you are willing to work hard for their support. In most cases, that respect is not in the form of direct financial contributions, but rather you are offered the opportunity to leverage their assets for your advancement. And that is a very good thing.

It’s always best to head into discussions asking for financial support up front, although not expecting to receive the funding. Inevitably, you will be told that funding is impossible due to budget or strategy conflicts, it is then you need to explore ways to engage and leverage their considerable non-financial resources. In most cases, access to these marketing, communication and brand assets can far exceed what any direct financial donation would be. But you must be willing to do the hard work needed to make the most of the opportunity you’re presented. At this point is where most people fall down, and unfortunately, never get up.

It may take a little more work, a little more thought and even a little more selling. But in the end if you have a dedicated partner who can see the outcome as being a win-win-win for everyone, which will make the synergistic opportunity come to life and one more project ready for launch!

About

Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years. Currently, Sean is a principal in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the U.S. including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference. Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street, a program of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire or email him anytime at sking.aspire@gmail.com

Posted in Fundraising, Marketing, Partnerships, Sponsorships, Synergy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

     

*

Subscribe
Get posts delivered right to your email inbox; just enter your email address below.
Past blog posts
About Sean King
Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years.  Currently, Sean is a principle in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the United States including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference.  Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street program in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. He also blogs a artsmarketingblog.org.  You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire. Sean resides with his wife Natalie and son Haydn in the global crossroads of Fogelsville, Pa.