Strategic partnerships are a great way to increase revenue without significant out of pocket expense. Many small businesses offer a limited product line or service and find that while they have happy customers, their customers don’t need to purchase the product or service on a regular basis, especially when it is not a consumable product.
With that in mind, what can you do with the customer list you already have and how can you tap into more of your target market? Simple. Find another business with the same target market, and partner with them to share the resource of your leads.
For instance, suppose you sell high-end furniture. Since people don’t need to purchase furniture every week, your clients may be happy, but regular repeat business will be difficult to generate. How about partnering with a high-end interior designer who has access to the same market you are targeting? You can make referrals of your clients to the designer, and the designer can offer your product line to her clients. You can take your partnership a step further and include each other’s information on your websites or informational pieces in order to maximize exposure for both businesses.
Another example of a strategic partnership is a small travel agency that approached a luggage store in her city. Both companies look for people who travel. The luggage store was happy to include the agent’s information when they sold a piece of luggage and the agent provided luggage tags to her clients when they booked a trip. Both companies benefited from the alliance and their customers received an additional value added service.
One real estate agent formed a unique strategic alliance with a pizza shop in the area in which he focused on selling real estate. In return for sending business to the pizza place, the agent negotiated a reduced rate on the pizzas he purchased. When a client was moving in to their new home, the agent had a pizza delivered, with a magnet congratulating the client on the move. The magnet included the pizza shop number and the agent’s contact information. The pizza shop was introduced to the new resident, the agent was cemented in the mind of the customer and the customer didn’t have to worry about what to fix for dinner during the move. It was a winning combination that continues to this day.
Strategic partnerships are a great way to move your business forward without significant out of pocket expense. Think about businesses and people related to your industry and decide if there are some strategic alliances that are just waiting to be formed. Then pick up the phone, tap into your business network, and see if there are any warm leads you can pursue. If your network doesn’t turn anything up, pick up the phone and make a few cold calls to see what businesses would be interested in a strategic partnership with you. You may find some that are not interested or who already have relationships in place. This is completely normal. Move on to the next until you find one that works. Then commit to the relationship and watch your business grow.