Exploring Growth Opportunities Through Strategic Partnerships
Ask any entrepreneur how they built their business, and chances are good they will tell you about at least one instance where a mentor, friend, partner or passing acquaintance said or did something that changed their thought processes and made success a possibility. In truth, no business is completely self-made. Entrepreneurs rely on others for inspiration, guidance, and input when they build their businesses and enter their industries.
But often, once the business is built, entrepreneurs focus on self-reliance to such an extent that they miss the opportunity to partner with other businesses in order to increase their capacity and product offerings as well as their speed.
That’s not the case with entrepreneurs Maria Orozova and Scott Thomas. These two founders partnered by bringing the best of Thomas’ marketing and business strategy company Intelechy Group with Orozova’s creative marketing firm The MOD Studio to expand the services they offered to clients, increase their overall employee capital and carve out a unique niche for themselves within the marketing industry.
It is said that need is the mother of invention. In the case of the The MOD Studio and Intelechy Design Group’s partnerships, that appears to be true. Scott explains how he first decided to partner with MOD. “When MOD first started, Intelechy happened to need some design work and content writing. Then, as Maria expanded her business and our clients were looking for more from us, it kind of snowballed, and vice versa.”
“On our side,” Maria continued, “it was more that our clients knew MOD could do all of this execution work, but wondered if we could do the strategic piece as well. So a lot of times we often needed to bring in a partner that could help us with the overall strategy: brand, mission, and vision.” Enter Intelechy.
It’s not unusual for a pair of businesses to partner on a few projects here and there. Sometimes, this simply results from two businesses accidentally collaborating when they’re separately hired by a client. Other times it can happen when one business refers a client to the other, essentially bringing them into the fold under their wing. But for MOD and Intelechy, it made sense to make a more permanent step toward partnership. “Last year, Scott was complaining about sharing with me certain ongoing challenges his business faced and I literally had the same exact challenges,” says Maria. “It made us realized we should just go to market together. We don't have to merge, we can just talk about each other as partner agencies.”
How Business Partnerships Can Work
Every partnership will have its own approach to pitching and presenting its relationship to clients. Maria and Scott often pitch businesses independently of each other, but when asked how many people are in their agency, they will explain the shared resources that they can bring to bear together. For them, this helps overcome any objection that a client might have over working with a smaller agency. “Ultimately the clients never cared who was actually doing the work,” Maria says. “Now, just because of the way that we market ourselves and speak about ourselves, clients know that they're coming to a full-service agency, because they are. And then I just tell them that our partner agency is Intelechy Group."
While some businesses might benefit from bringing on a partner that provides the same services, most will benefit more when they bring on a partner that provides complementary services, thus expanding their offerings and creating a full-service firm. “Our clients know they are hiring an agency that has many skill sets that a lot of traditional marketing firms lacked because Intelechy and MOD merge the data side of the technology component with the creative side in the strategy and execution,” explains Maria.
Businesses that specialize have an advantage, but with a partnering agency, companies can bring niche specialization to a whole different level. This is something Scott knows well. “Intelechy started in a relatively new field: demand generation and market automation. We do a lot of the consulting and implementation around that. What we do is still relatively new, so technology companies are early adopters.”
But MOD brings something else to the table. “We've done a lot of great work in the luxury space;. More high-end products and brands. Alongside Intelechy, we work with Exclusive Resorts. We’ve worked on campaigns with Lexus, luxury real estate developments here in Austin as well as with some Houston-based developers. We've just always gravitated more towards the luxury client on the MOD side. I think we just understand that space a little bit better than most.”
Managing Two Brands
While some companies might decide to merge after partnering, others—such as Intelechy and MOD—want to stay separate. This changes how client management and finances are handled, although it doesn’t need to be an obstacle. Explaining their approach to managing joint clients, Maria says, “A lot of our account management team is on the Intelechy side. So even if it is a MOD project, the Intelechy account team generally handles the day-to-day interaction. ”But one thing partner companies definitely need to do is decide what their mutual goals and approach to corporate culture is. This is something Maria says that MOD and Intelechy have focused heavily on. “We have a great leadership team between the two firms, with an open environment where we talk back and forth about clients and internal culture. I like having everybody work together as a team. I also love when team members collaborate without us being there because everybody has a common goal, and it’s to be the best that we can be for our clients.
”Growth is a goal of most companies, and when partnering it’s important that both businesses identify how they’ll handle and target growth and still maintain their priorities. When talking about the growth Intelechy and MOD have experienced, Maria says, “My biggest fear in growing is that we lose what makes us so special now, which is that we're not too small and we're not too big. We have a great team, everybody works really well together, and everybody gets along really well. I think sometimes the bigger you get, the harder it is to maintain not only the culture but also the quality of work. Even though we've grown a lot, I think we've always gone back and focused on controlling our expansion so that our quality keeps getting better and better."