We have talked before about the work involved in getting new customers; in our blog on real-world marketing. But, there is always more you can do when growing your business. And, it is always worth trying to cover every base. A simple and often successful source for new customers is to share the customers of another company. Partnering with another business is a quick way of establishing trust with a whole new part of the market with the merest fraction of the work. These working relationships can offer huge benefits to both partners equally, both in landing new customers and getting good deals on resources. For instance, if your plant shop partners with the local potter, you can gain both pots to sell plants in as well as customers looking for flowers to go with their new vase. But, partnering with another business can be a tricky task to master. It is important to make sure a deal is as beneficial to you as it is to the new partner, but this may not be clear to see. Here are the steps that will ensure you land that perfect partnership:
1. Find the right business This is possibly an obvious point to make, but you need to be selective in partnering with another business. There is little point trying to team up with a business that shares no relevance with your own, but it is just as futile to attempt to approach your more direct rivals. Your ideal partner will be a business that sells a product or service that you do not but that can, in some way, benefit and support your own product. A pet shop and a veterinarian, for example. Don’t limit yourself to just a single partner, either. You should try to identify as many potential partners as possible and contact each one. Building up a network like this is a great way for smaller businesses to boost their profile quickly and at a low cost.
2. Determine the perfect arrangement You need to know what it is you hope to get from partnering with another business. It may seem appealing just to team up, believing in sheer strength of numbers. But, ask yourself what benefit you hope to gain from each potential partner. You may be looking to boost your customer numbers. If so, there is little point in approaching a business that has next to no customer base. Maybe you want to build up a local programme for your particular industry to increase awareness. There would be no point, then, in partnering with another business from a distant city. Asking yourself the simple question, “What do I hope to gain?” is a key step in determining worthwhile partners.
3. Make contact, then make a deal It would be difficult to start partnering with another business without contacting them. It is important for you to be bold and confident in reaching out with your proposal. If you can show your excitement for the partnership, you will find no trouble in reaching an agreement. You should treat partnering with another business like searching for investment. Prepare a partnership plan before you get in touch with the owner or CEO that lays out what you hope to gain from a partnership and what you can offer in return. Arrange a meeting where you can lay out your ideas and plan for the partnership. Make sure you discuss all the possible deals that might be struck to benefit both parties; such as referral schemes, supply deals or customer offers. Work your way towards a positive and, above all, fair deal for both of you.
4. Test the waters Of course, the world of business is never that simple. Partnering with another business may seem like a no-brainer on paper, only for customers to show no interest in the partner or the deals offered. Make sure you arrange an easy way out of the partnership should it soon prove fruitless. Of course, you should also ensure that you are both making input into how to change the arrangement to find a more successful deal to customers. The early stages of partnering with another business should focus on flexibility. Discuss with each other, and with customers, how the partnership is going and change anything that is unpopular. This may mean going back to square one, but it is important to not just give up. Partnerships are an incredible help to growing businesses, so it is worth your while in taking time to get it right.
5. Do it all again As I said earlier, you can never have too many partners. When you have set up your first strong partnership, you should be already looking at partnering with another business. Your new partner may have other partners that would be interested in teaming up. You may find another company looking to partner with you. Whatever the case, as long as you keep the earlier steps in mind, you can just keep adding new partners to your business and reaping the rewards of these symbiotic business relationships.