The sum of its parts. How partnerships make small business stronger.

Cast your mind back through the cheese and wine fuelled haze of Christmas. What were you up to? Finishing some last minute work? Blowing a tenner on you’re not quite sure what and passing it off as a Secret Santa? Perhaps simply looking forward to Christmas. I, of course, was doing all these things but more importantly, I was talking to Danny Munday, business partnership guru. Having spent time in the newspaper game and done a stint at MoneySupermarket, Danny has started a business for the second time. I wondered how he was getting on.

Munday-Morning

What’s your history with digital?

I originally worked for News International running partnerships, working across The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun and News of The World. I was running direct relationships with the providers of homeware, gardening, plants and things. I was setting up distribution for those vendors across the titles. It is quite an interesting place to be actually, because you are working across a lot of different distribution channels, both on and offline.

I was kind of at the fulcrum of all this activity. I had all of the merchant insight, I had all of the publisher insight and I was sat in the middle aligning the business objectives of both, whilst delivering a great service to customers. I then realised that if a merchant could become known for unfailingly turning offers around when up against tight publishing deadlines, that merchant would reap huge opportunities, so I launched a company called The Offer Service to do just that.

Having left a big business, what was the difference in environment, attitude and lifestyle?

It was a big difference, corporates can be very dynamic, sociable places but there is often a short-termism on the part of individuals in that people manage their careers in three year chunks. This means their ambitions and the long term ambitions of the business aren’t always aligned. By starting my own business I was now in a position to align my long term goals with the goals of the business.

Yes, you get more freedom but with that freedom you need to be far more disciplined and recognise the difference between just turning up to work every day and actually making things happen. Obviously, when everyone turns up to work they hope they are being productive, but when you are doing your own thing, productivity is everything and you need to be accountable to the people you work with. Ultimately it’s tremendously empowering.

Though digital has progressed beyond what we could have envisioned, ultimately, is business still about forging good partnerships?

My business, Collaborative Marketing, is exactly that. In my time in business, negotiation between two parties has moved on from what used to be an arm wrestle, to a far more collaborative approach. The attitude now is that companies are far more open about what they need to achieve. Once they do that, as long as that relationship is conducted or brokered correctly, you can get anything out of those relationships or partnerships.

Can small businesses working collaboratively in partnerships rival big businesses?

Small businesses can get immediate access to large audiences through partnerships, and, because the model is success-based, only pay for marketing that works. Yes, the more granular it gets, the more targeted you can be in finding customers and therefore the more efficient your partnership is. The combination of small businesses and collaboration means marketing is more efficient.

You spent time at MoneySupermarket, what made you leave to start your current business?

A recognition that there are a lot of small companies and startups out there that are able to get distribution through digital channels like no one has been able to before, and that the optimal route is often via partnerships with businesses that already have relevant audiences. My objective is to help them navigate that complex world and to provide benefit to both businesses whilst delivering the optimum product or service to the customer. I am motivated by spotting ways in which one business might work with another business to mutual benefit

How about this cafe?

I had a feeling you would ask me that! The café could offer x to facilitate meetings for local businesses, the café would be effectively in partnership with offering the businesses in question incremental benefit. Those businesses in turn, in conducting their meetings here, would introduce new customers – for example their clients (which incidentally is how I found it, and now I’m a regular!) These things are non-core to the businesses in question but provide a lot of added value. From a personal perspective, I get a lot of energy from talking to a diversity of businesses. I am lucky enough to get to talk to investigate, research and understand a whole load of different businesses.

What is the big idea behind Collaborative Marketing?

Collaborative Marketing is essentially a dating service, enabling businesses that need customers to meet businesses that have audiences that fit that customer base; I spot good matches and then facilitate those relationships to ensure that the relationship is as mutually fruitful as possible.

How do you feel now that you are back on your own and doing it by yourself?

I’m delighted, it is freedom, the feeling that anything is possible, not just for me but for the businesses that I am talking to. All of my conversations are positive because they are about opportunity. I’ve not met one business yet that didn’t have a whole load of undiscovered opportunities.