Leaving a newly formed partnership on auto-pilot is likely going to lead to a crash.

After all, that’s not how any relationship works, right? All lasting relationships require a lot of work and take time to nurture – including business partnerships.

We put together a blueprint for maintaining long-term business partnerships, divided into six simple tips.

We also reveal how long a typical business partnership lasts, and why businesses seek partnerships in the first place. Let’s dive in.

How long do business partnerships typically last?

Let’s start by establishing a benchmark for how long the average business partnership lasts.

The biggest segment of our respondents, at 27%, say their business partnerships ripen to beyond five years. A close second, at 23%, note their partnerships lasting about three years.

Following that, 18% maintain partnerships that extend to two years, and 14% have partnerships with a lifespan of one year. Only 4% of experts say their partnerships go on to last for four years.

The simple takeaway: Most business partnerships last between three to five years.

That said, another 7% have partnerships for 10-12 months, 5% for 6 months, and 2% between 7-9 months.

how long do marketing partnerships last

Why should you maintain a business partnership?

Now, why exactly do businesses establish these types of partnerships? We asked our experts to pinpoint their main reasons, sharing some interesting results.

The biggest segment of experts, at 41%, go into partner marketing to reach a wider audience. The next 20% partner up to complement their offering with another business, and another 18% go in as a way to help increase brand awareness.

Not surprisingly, some following reasons given by experts, at 11%, are to increase sales, and at 5%, to expand distribution. Three other reasons that got the same number of votes, 2% each, said they establish partnerships to leverage another brand’s authority, enter a market they previously didn’t have a place in, and boost each other’s domains.

reasons for lasting partnerships

6 proven steps for building lasting partnerships

Let’s start off our list of tips with some basic guidelines: If you put in the necessary work to set goals, understand your partner, and take other important action steps (which we cover in our post on planning partnerships), you’re already halfway down the path of a long and lasting partnership.

For the rest, it involves building on your relationship together with your partner. In fact, all the six tips that experts recommended revolve around building relationships.

1. Be honest and transparent

“It all comes down to how you interact with one another and what your ‘honesty policy’ is,” says Teri Shern from Conex Boxes.

Equally important is staying transparent throughout the entire process. Why? “Transparency creates trust and improves growth. If you can do this while nurturing the partnership, you’ll be able to watch it strengthen and grow over time,” explains Shern.

The idea is simple: If some aspect of a partnership doesn’t suit you, or you find there’s another way to do things, be honest about it. Rather than dropping the ball, go ahead and share your concerns.

Rachel Jones from Hope Health Supply agrees, “If a certain facet of the partnership isn’t working for you, it’s important to discuss it early on so you can find mutually beneficial ways to overcome those challenges. And remember, the benefits almost always outweigh any slight inconveniences.”

Summing up, Everlasting Comfort’s Travis Killian advises to “be upfront and honest when sustaining long partnerships. The more collaborative you can be in these situations, the more likely you are to have successful partnerships.”

2. Communicate clearly and regularly

In order to be honest and upfront – to voice your concerns and share opinions – you need to communicate on a regular basis.

This helps combat the ‘set it and forget it’ mindset that businesses in a partnership often adopt, as Hospitable’s Pierre-Camille Hamana points out.

Therefore, it’s essential you “keep in touch with [your partner’s] team and continuously explore opportunities to communicate your partnership to your audience.”

There are two aspects of communication in lasting partnerships:

  • Maintain communication: Schedule regular check-ins, quarterly retrospectives, etc.
  • Communicate clearly: Plan what should be discussed and be specific about what’s on your mind.

“While this may seem obvious, communication gaps are usually the backbone of most partnership problems,” notes Bradley Stevens from LLC Formations.

Not only that, but “maintaining very poor communication with the other party brings down the value and quality of work done together. The partnership weakens and it will no longer be a partnership,” adds Akhila Ajith of StartupNameCheck.

The solution? “Plan weekly meetings to share new thoughts, ideas, or any concerns that may have arisen,” Stevens advises.

“Make a communication plan and discuss beforehand what communication method at what times suits you the best. Discussing what’s better [for example, messaging or phone calls] is vital so the partner feels comfortable reaching out to you.”

Bart Turczynski from ResumeLab adds, “You don’t have to give away trade secrets, of course. But don’t leave your partner in the dark! If you feel like your partner is taking advantage of your expertise and not reciprocating, tell them. Try to work on something together that is mutually beneficial, while keeping communication flowing.”

3. Compromise sometimes

Admittedly, no relationship – and by extension partnership – is all rainbows and sunshine. Rough patches, misunderstandings, and disagreements are to be expected.

But an occasional disagreement doesn’t mean you abort the partnership altogether. Find a way to compromise instead, as Chris Prasad from JookSMS suggests.

“The most important tip when in partnerships is if you don’t agree with something, always compromise. Compromising is better than leaving them empty-handed with their ideas.”

Set aside some time to communicate your concerns and reach a middle ground that suits all the involved parties.

4. Actively seek opportunities to collaborate

“Create multiple opportunities to increase the value of the partnership” recommends Lynn Power of MASAMI.

For example, you can grow your collaboration opportunities in the following ways:

  • “You can write a blog post about a common topic and feature the other brand.
  • You can do a live stream together.
  • You can create a gift with purchase that adds value to your customers.

“Or you could do what one of our partners has done – create a partner section on your website to highlight like-minded brands.”

Here’s another action step for increasing collaboration Greg Gillman of MuteSix: “Be sure to establish benchmarks.

“Don’t look at collaboration as a one-time effort, but implement strategies that can be carried out in three months, six months, a year, and even beyond.

“Structure this exactly as you would set a series of goals – except these victories will successfully impact two different parties, which lead to even more opportunities in the future.”

5. Bring a cheerful attitude to the (partnership) table

It’s also essential you take a friendly approach to nurture your business partnerships. As Affiliate Dove’s David Oscar puts it: “Have a cheerful vibe and aim to give more value than you are getting.

“People want to relate and work with others who are willing to listen to them, give them encouraging feedback, and most of all, offer them tangible value for what they are giving out.

“If you seek to relate to people in a cheerful way that shows you’re an easy-to-get-along-with kind of person who is also modest, thoughtful, and observing all respects, people will want to relate with you more.

“Most of the industries we’re in are filled with people who are aggressive, wanting value for value, and not caring about creating relationships. You can stand out by doing slightly better than them.

“When you talk to new business people, show them respect, give them a cheerful vibe, be honest, and be ready to be corrected. That will draw their attention.”

Then once you have their attention, it’s crucial to maintain it. As a means to this end, Oscar advises you to “go the extra mile and take note of the value they are offering your work and life, and aim to give back twice or thrice.

“And make an effort of checking up on them once in a while as you add more value to their lives and work. You will establish many long-lasting relationships that way.”

6. Put effort into building relationships

While the other five tips above center around sustaining partnerships by building relationships, this one focuses entirely on relationship building.

Here are three ways you can go about building relationships:

Be respectful with your partners

“Even if you form partnerships with brands that have similar values to you, it is highly unlikely you’ll be operating in the same way,” observes Nick Chernets of DataForSEO.

“Sometimes, businesses are not tolerant of these differences and they try to micromanage the mutual activities. However, I came to realize that lasting partnerships are those in which both sides have tremendous respect for each other.”

A golden rule to keep in mind is to not “interfere too much in the work process and show support instead of doubts. This way, you’ll be giving partners enough space to operate and enough motivation to stay in the partner program,” explains Chernets.

Don’t make it about business all the time

Tom Mumford of Undergrads LLC says “a great way to establish a lasting partnership is to keep in touch with your partners on a personal level.

“Not every email or phone call has to be business-related. And if you can make personal connections with your clients, they’ll be more likely to stick by you in the long run.

“Plus, it’s always nice to make connections with people you’re working with so that you can clearly understand what they’re looking for in business.”

Be authentic and vulnerable (sometimes)

“I have found that a little bit of vulnerability and authenticity goes far when it comes to building, establishing, and sustaining relationships between business partners,” says Andrew Taylor of Net Lawman.

“Being able to accurately and honestly depict that ‘I’ve got your back’ will just go further than anything more lucrative, especially in this day and age.”

Crack a joke or two

Lastly, be humorous when appropriate. Tim Denman of ServGrow shares, “My number one tip for sustaining lasting partnerships within a partner program is to make sure you crack a joke every now and then.”

At the end of the day, “don’t make it just about business. Have fun, and build great connections.”

Closing thoughts

In any relationship, you need to be honest, transparent, and communicate clearly. Lasting partnerships take the same work.

Even if your partnership revolves around business goals and settings, don’t forget to be human and people will love working with you.