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Your First Brand Partner Meeting

By Kristine Keller And Alex Friedman

Advice for getting the most out of your kickoff conversation.

Getting on a call with a potential brand partner may feel daunting. You both are evaluating if a brand partnership is a fit, and first impressions are important. 

Our clients often ask us, how should these meetings kick off? Consider using this brief guide when meeting with a brand for the first time. It’s useful to be armed with the right structure to get things moving, especially for those conversations that are stiff or a bit challenging at first. Keep in mind that conversations will take their natural course and some of these topics might occur organically. 


If you’ve seen the brand in recent campaigns or noticed that they’ve sponsored certain events, you may want to ask what prompted them to collaborate on those specific projects. This will show them that you’ve done your homework and also help you discern what the brand’s pillars are and where they’re investing their resources (e.g. if they sponsored a music festival, you may ask them if music is one of their pillars, etc.) 


Before you dive in, ask how the other party would like to structure today’s call. Typically, we say something to the effect of:

“The objective of today’s call is to discuss partnership opportunities and how we might be able to work together. We’re hoping that by the end of today’s call, we’re able to send through a custom proposal with ideas outlined OR [insert what you’d like to get out of this call]. We can kick off by telling you about our brand and then would love to hear more about your brand goals and previous partnerships you’ve executed. How does that sound to you?”


Goals and objectives

Depending on who has gone first, if you’ve shared your brand goals or objectives, your potential partner may then share theirs. If the brand mentions other partnerships they’ve done in the past, it’s useful to ask if they have any partnership case studies they may be able to share. If they haven’t outwardly shared their goals yet, feel free to directly ask: 


Once you’ve covered brand goals and objectives, it’s important to discuss the audience and each other’s core customers. After they share details of who their customers are, ask yourself: 

Answering these questions will inform how, or if, your brands will work together and what the partnership outcomes might look like. 

Deadlines and format 

Partnerships can take time to develop and close. It’s always best to keep momentum after the first call. Ask the brand if they have any specific deadlines to keep in mind for next steps, plus the format that they’d like to see next steps delivered in. We’ve had brands request a proposal in less than 48 hours, in which case, you may want to consider delivering a one-sheet instead of a full deck. But again, this depends on the brand’s format preferences. 

Summarize and synthesize 

It’s best to synthesize what you’ve heard just before you end the call. This discussion may even change or add to the next steps. We’ve witnessed calls where this doesn’t happen and there are misaligned expectations on next steps or who is responsible for what. To double down on this effort, it’s also recommended to send a brief recap email outlining the next steps in writing, too. People are busy and may appreciate reinforcement of what was discussed. 

After this first call, if it all goes well, hopefully you will be on your way to building a meaningful partnership together. But if not, don’t get discouraged. Sometimes it takes several partnership calls before you find the right fit. Partnerships have to work for both of you and sometimes that requires patience finding the right one. But, rest assured that when you do find that right one, the end results are meaningful and worth it! 

About the author Kristine Keller And Alex Friedman

Kristine Keller and Alex Friedman are the co-founders of Clear Sky Collective, a boutique partnership marketing agency focused on building industry-defining partnerships for brands. Clients include Mailchimp, The Recording Academy, Getaway, The Atlantic, Air Mail, Away, Laurel Road, Red Ventures, The Infatuation, Emerson Collective, and more.

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