When running a business it’s not uncommon to get stuck in the weeds, focusing on all the small everyday details of running your operation - often working as an operator rather than an owner, or regular employee rather than manager.
But what about the big picture?
Partnerships are an important weapon in the big picture strategy for businesses, but are often overlooked by small to medium-sized operations.
So what does a good partnership look like and how should you go about finding one?
1. What do your Clients/Customers want?
Your partnership needs to appeal to your Clients or Customers – if they aren’t interested then it’s worthless to you. Survey them or just ask in person and find out what they’re into (where they like to eat, shop, hang out, etc.) or search for like-minded businesses with like-minded Clientele (for example a fitness studio should think spas, blow-out salons, healthy restaurants, etc.).
2. How should you approach it?
Approach your target businesses by showing them that your Clientele look like theirs and a partnership with you allows you both the opportunity to introduce your brand to a new group of Clients who will very likely be interested in your products or services.
This is analogous to a “look-alike audience” on Facebook - how does Facebook know that a certain group of people will be interested in what you have to offer without testing it first? Because they “look like” the people who are already interested, or in other words have the same interests, similar demographic information, etc.
As you might expect, a partnership implies a mutually beneficial relationship meaning you will need to offer something to other businesses – a perk such as a discount, priority offering or other freebie (this could look like a 15% discount, free drinks, invite to a special event, etc. – be creative), and they will in turn do the same for your Clients.
3. Promote it
Promoting your partnership is key for it’s success, but don’t rely on the other business to do it for you.
While your Clients will benefit from whatever the other business is offering, your business will capitalize off the new Clients you gain from the other company you’ve partnered with.
That being said, people are busy – while they may have every intention of promoting your
partnership, maybe they don’t get to it for awhile or put together the kinds of material you
have in mind.
Take matters into your own hands and create the material for them. Sure you’ll need to
devote resources to doing so but you’ll have creative control and a sense of urgency that the
other business won’t and they’ll likely view this as you doing them a favor anyways.
4. Track it
What good is taking the time to do something when you don’t even know if it was a success?
Make certain to include tracking for your partnership (a special code that both partners agree
to is usually sufficient) so that whenever a Client takes advantage of the deal offered it can be
marked as such.
At the end of the partnership promotion, tally the numbers from each partner to review and
compare and determine what worked and what didn’t – this will help you understand what changes you need to make in the future to make it even more successful.
If it’s an on-going partnership (such as a standing 10% discount at a partner business for all Clients), don’t underestimate the importance of tracking.
Tracking month to month changes will help you analyze trends in participation and understand where you may need to ratchet offers up or down or change the arrangement entirely, to make it more beneficial for both parties.
Not only will partnerships help you to gain business allies in your area but they can act as an important selling point to new potential Clients when they see that being a customer of your business comes with a host of other offers and perks.
Don’t underestimate the power of help from other businesses like yours - at the end of the day, we are all after the same things, why not help each other out?