One of the most under utilised approaches to business generation is to form strategic alliances or partnerships with other businesses. These partnerships can often become part of the backbone to a very effective marketing strategy and can open access to a wide client base that you could never have reached previously.
Of course, the first decision to make is; with whom should you be partnering? The key to finding good partners is to think about who your customers are and the problems that you solve for them. Once you are sure you have understood those questions you can look for partners who solve similar problems for the same clientele, although, in a different sphere from you.
So, for example, a particular accountant may decide their major market is Small Business Owners. The problems they solve generally are two fold. One is compliance, in other words, there are just certain things that a limited company has to file and undertake legally. The other issue is assisting in running the business as effectively as possible. Therefore, a natural partner for the accountant may be a Solicitor who also works with a high percentage of Small Business Owners. They are also able to assist in compliance with regard to certain legislation as well as help a business run better. Of course these are in different areas, so no conflict of interest arises.
These partnerships can be as proactive as both parties would like. So, it may be a simple case of recommending each other when the opportunity arises. Links can be reciprocated on each other’s website. Maybe each practice could host a couple of articles from their partner on their own websites.
Joint seminars can be held on pertinent topics. If each company gets ten people there, that gives the other partner the opportunity to demonstrate expertise to ten possible new clients.
A very effective way of kick-starting a relationship with a strategic partner is for both parties to write to their own clients. In the letter they can announce the new partnership explaining the value it brings to their customers and why they chose this particular company. In that way, each partner is being introduced to an entire client base. This is not a cold call or cold direct mail piece because it is coming from a person’s own trusted supplier. Moreover, the letter’s emphasis is about the value this alliance will bring to the customer themselves through possible discounts, added services etc. However, it is also a very powerful way of generating new business leads at very little cost.
Leveraging each other’s brands to drive traffic to your website, store or business is also another advantage that partnerships can deliver. So for example, a cinema and restaurant in the same town, can partner to deliver cost savings on both services. This can help drive traffic to both parties.
By giving a discount voucher for the other venue, people may visit that destination when previously it had not been at the fore -front of their mind. In addition, people may be more inclined to visit a restaurant for which they have a voucher, and the cinema has suggested, than any other. Similarly, people who want a good night out may choose the cinema because, with the discount voucher for the restaurant, they get a great night that is a little more affordable than it otherwise would have been. Partnering therefore, delivers both these businesses a competitive advantage.
Of course, a company need not limit itself to one strategic partnership. On the contrary, most business can sustain a few at any one time. Any business not utilising partnerships is simply missing a trick. It is quite simply one of the most cost effective ways of generating business leads and obtaining competitive advantage in your market place.
Grant Leboff is Principal of The Intelligent Sales Club working with companies on effective sales and marketing strategies and lead generation; creating a steady stream of sales opportunities for businesses. For more information visit www.intelligentsalesclub.com