Brand-Name Deals: A Strategic Plan to Land the Big One

Last Updated Oct 11, 2011 7:40 PM EDT

"If we get Microsoft, (replace Microsoft with your favorite iconic brand name), then it is going to be a lot easier to get other big guys. So what if you take a little bit of a haircut on that deal. It's what we are going to have to do to get our name out there."

When I work with small- and mid-size companies, I often hear the siren song of the big logo deal.

This is not a discussion I hear on occasion. In one flavor or another I hear this conversation in almost every company I meet. The promise of affiliated greatness for your brand because of someone else's strong brand is very hard to pass up, I know.

I've written and spoken against this practice at length. For the sake of context, I'll just give a quick summary of why this is a dangerous temptation before I outline the Trigger-Map Strategy we teach for companies who want to boost their brand through strategic affiliation.

The dangers of logo-hunting....

  • All hat, no cattle - Your industry probably has a lot of companies who are doing business with these big players. Their websites and case studies are full of the logo-player company names. This means that you will go to extreme lengths for something that has little benefit because it is not unique.
  • Black hole prospects - If you go after the big companies for their name, you are invariably going to be asked to do more, answer more and spend more for a deal than you are used to. The never-ending requests and meetings can drain the resources necessary for other great opportunities with real scale and potential who are maybe not logo deals.
  • What happens when the dog catches the car? - If you land a logo company and your company is not prepared you get to fail in a spectacularly public way.
  • Money doesn't care where it came from - The best way to measure your business success is not by the logos, but by the zeros.
Having said all of that, there can be some strategic value to these logo deals -- they help make other companies feel safer doing business with you. I've been involved in landing almost 200 of the Fortune 500 companies for 7-figure deals each over time, so I know that there is value in landing those names. However, landing a logo is an outcome, not a strategy.

So how do you do it? I advocate the Trigger-Map Strategy to provide you the right balance of effort, result, and long-term leverage in your hunting efforts.

The basic idea is dominos -- not playing the game but the setting up of the dominos so that you tip one and that causes a chain reaction. For the Trigger-Map Strategy to work, you must leverage a series of increasingly more credible and sizable companies for whom you are doing larger amounts of work. This will move you closer to the biggest opportunities for your business.

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