Skip to main content

The “3 Ps” of Partnership Building

5 min read

Anyone that’s spent a couple weeks in an intro marketing course is probably familiar with the 4 Ps – product, price, place, and promotion – the supposed sacred levers that make up an organization’s “marketing mix.”

Longtime Harvard Business School marketing professor E. Jerome McCarthy, coined the concept in 1960 and, amazingly enough, it still influences how businesses market themselves more than 60 years later.

Well, not to be outdone by clever abbreviations, we have our own set of 3 “Ps”. Core to our client and team relationships, they answer the very difficult question… is this client a good fit for GO?

Progress, Passion, and Profit are how we judge prospective partnerships and projects that we take on as an agency.


Progress: partnerships and projects should provide the opportunity for GO to learn something new or enter a space we’ve never been in. Simply put, we ask ourselves, will this partnership make us a better agency?

Passion: every now and then, there is a client, cause, or creative opportunity that we are so excited about, we would never forgive ourselves if we let a potential project or partnership slip by. Determining the level of “passion” is subjective, but it should always start as an expression of what is important to our team. Simply put, we ask ourselves, would we volunteer our time and do this for free?

Profit: any partnership or project should be able to drive bottom line value for our partner and for GO. Profitability sustains our businesses and sets us up for future success. Simply put, we ask ourselves, will we make our necessary margin on this?

So how do we deploy the “3 Ps” in practice?

To build a successful partnership, we need to “check the box” on at least two of the 3 Ps. Any project or partnership that meets only one (or none) is set up to fail. Trust us. We’ve tried it before. And, after 20 years of trial and error, we know what makes for a great (or not-so-great) partnership. 

Only profit.

A profitable project that drains the passion of our team or has a negative impact to growth is going to damage the culture and future success of GO and create a relationship with a client that is solely transactional. While it may be attractive on the outset, solely transactional relationships at GO never work.

Only passion.

Passion projects = commitment. However, taking on a client or cause that has a negative impact to the bottom line and does not set us up for future growth damages our ability to provide the best service to our clients. Bottomline, we must pay our bills and more importantly, our people.

Only progress.

Projects and partnerships that enter us into a new space but does nothing to fuel our team or boost the bottom line will eventually fail. These types of relationships tend to eat-up internal resources and create a general apathy that makes it harder to grow our team and business, and take on new clients and projects. 

Two out of three is the benchmark, but; three is the absolute best.

Every now and then, there is this perfect partnership or project that checks off all three boxes. Armed with progress, passion and profit, our team is constantly learning, we’re constantly thinking about our partner’s mission (because deep down we want our client to win), and we can make our margins to sustain and grow the business. 

Together, the 3Ps fuel our agency ecosystem and set everyone up for shared success. In other words, it’s GO time.