It can be impossible to stop unknown problems from occurring with a joint venture marketing relationship, but as a small business owner it’s critical to identify problems and either address them or take the appropriate actions to terminate the relationship and focus on more fertile ground. There are several critical areas of a business partnership to be conscious of at all times including: customer service and satisfaction, tracking referrals, accounting and revenue shares and promoting a positive brand image to the market in general. If an issue arises in any of these areas, it is absolutely necessary to spend the time to fix the root cause to eliminate it. Otherwise the right solution may be to simply identify new partners and move on.
At the end of the day it’s always about making sure that customers are happy and feel that they’re getting good value for what they are purchasing. Regardless, whichever side of the partnership your business is on it is critical to focus on providing great customer service. If you’re opening up your company’s rolodex of existing customers, you don’t want to jeopardize future business for yourself because the new JV marketing partner you’re introducing does not perform as expected. During the early stages of starting a new business relationship it is very important to test the waters early by referring a few loyal customers that will provide you with honest feedback about their experience with the new partner. Send over a couple of “new” leads as well and have a person within your organization act as the customer to get a real understanding of how the partner treats their clients. There is nothing worse than sending over a group of customers to a new partner only to receive emails and calls with negative experiences from those customers. This reflects on you as a business owner and can be avoided by properly implementing the new partnership.
Make sure that the partner is tracking referrals, new leads, products ordered, products delivered, products returned, marketing campaigns, ROI, brand reputation and any important data points related to your industry. It is very difficult to measure the true value of a joint venture marketing relationship without this information. You will have to rely on an open business partner to get many of those details and keep an open line of communication. By tracking everything related to each of your business partners it’s easier to accomplish the required accounting and to come to firm conclusions about which relationships are the most profitable and provide the greatest return. This will let you prioritize your time and resources for future activities and identify partners it may be better off to just walk away from. It is recommended that you monitor the market in general and understand what the market says about your business partners. As a business owner it can be very frustrating to have a partner do something unwise that creates a lot of negative press as this can reflect on your company, especially if you’re very active together with co-branded marketing.
Small business owners need to be prepared to spend the necessary time to monitor each business relationship and collect the required data during the month to accurately assess the success or failure of the partnership. When you identify a major issue related to servicing customers or accounting for the referrals that are being sent to a partner then set up a meeting to fix the issue as soon as possible or move away from doing business with the partner in the future. Allowing a negative partnership to linger just because you have already done all of the work to put the relationship together can be detrimental to the business and the brand for the long haul.
Christian Fea is CEO of Synertegic, Inc. A Joint Venture Marketing firm. He exemplifies how to profit from Joint Venture relationships by creating profit centers with minimal risk and maximum profitability.
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