“Smart entrepreneurs know that strategic partnerships can mean the difference between failure and success. The days of going it alone are almost passe as companies increase their reach and their resources by finding other like-minded business professionals to partner with. Today it’s all about accessing partner markets, resources, capital and people.” Heidi Richards Mooney
In my last article I talked about some of the types of companies you can partner with to market your small business. Here is part two of that article:
Collaborate with a Competitor – Believe it or not, competitors can be very good partners. For instance, they may offer a service or product you don’t or don’t wish to and vice-versa. They may also have the ability to handle a larger “job” than your company. Joining forces with another business on a project makes you look good to the customer. You become the hero. In 1999, I had the opportunity to provide all the decorations for a HUGE Floral Fair in Miami, Florida. I knew my small company alone could not handle all the business. So I called several other florists in the community whom I admired and who did similar work. I subcontracted them to do portions of the project and get a piece of the action. Because these were floral importers we were serving, the other florists had the opportunity to network with and find new suppliers of product. It was easy to convince them to participate. It was such a success, that it has been an ongoing project for several of the shops over the years.
Think about the many small businesses that are natural partners. In the real estate field, Realtors partner with one another when selling a house. Florists partner with caterers, photographers and others in the event industry. Automobile insurance companies often partner with auto repair companies to insure their customers get the best service at a fair price.
In an issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, I read about a coffee company in New Jersey who became the ultimate collaborator. The coffeehouse carries works from a local art gallery, has a reciprocal agreement with a local community theatre to offer significant discounts to their patrons, cross promotes with a local music store, book store, cigar shop, as well as many local nonprofits.
My flower shop has partnered with masseuses, welcome-to-the-neighborhood companies, travel agents, professional organizers, beauty salons, and Realtors, and several nonprofits, to name a few. We have marketed our small businesses by collaborating on networking events such as business after hours and open houses. We have promoted one another through door hanger campaigns. We have given each other our coupons to distribute to other companies. We have carried one another’s business cards and brochures to distribute to our respective clients and customers. We have given away one another’s products to our customers. We offer hyperlinks on one another’s websites to further promote each other. The possibilities are endless. Look for opportunities in your community that would be mutually beneficial to your partnership.
The real key to success in cross-promoting your small businesses, is to collaborate with non-competing businesses that are going after the same client or customer base. Choose businesses and people you trust. The promotion should make sense to both partners. It should be a true win-win for everyone involved. Plan the promotion and evaluate the Alliance on a regular basis. Look for ways to expand your reach without increasing your overhead or debt. Marketing your small business by collaborating with the competition can bring more leads, more business and create stronger bonds with other small business owners in your community.
Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, Inc. Professional organization that serves those who manage strategic alliances and corporate partnerships.