How Partnering with Other Small Businesses Can Help to Grow Your Brand
We all know that supporting other small business owners is a good thing to do, but have you considered using partnerships to help grow your brand?
It’s all over our feeds at this time of year - ‘support local'!’ or ‘support small business owners this Christmas!’. It’s fantastic to invest in other small biz owners in whatever way you can, but why not look further than just how we spend our money? Why not support these fellow freelancers from the inside out whilst also growing your own business at the same time? This is what partnerships can do!
I’m a huge fan of this tactic; not only does it help increase your exposure and grow your own business, it’s also doing the same for someone else, and it can be a great way of meeting amazingly talented, like-minded people too.
All you need is one key ingredient for a successful partnership…
Target audience overlap
Once you find another business that either offers products or services that complement yours, or who has the same target audience as your business, there are a range of possibilities in ways to partner up…
This is the main form of partnership that I have used. I’ve worked with Brand Designers and SEO experts in the past, that I have developed a good, trusting relationship with, to pass my clients on to. This is because we have ‘complementary’ services; services that are often needed together.
You could have a casual referral network with complementary businesses, where you each send clients to each other, OR another system I’ve used with good success has been to set up a ‘referral agreement’. It’s a very simple contract which just says that when the referrer passes a client on to you, they are owed a percentage of the total project fee that the referee landed as a result.
For example, if I pass on a client to my SEO partner, and that client spends £1,000 with them, I receive £100 ‘referral fee’ once that’s been paid, like a commission! This is a great option as it is a win/win for everyone involved.
Competitions and Giveaways
Whether you have complementary offerings or simply a target audience that is the same, creating a giveaway or competition is a great way to combine resources (prize value, marketing efforts etc) to help each other grow. It could be hosted on social media, or on one of your websites etc., asking entrants to follow both of your accounts or blogs, or to sign up to your newsletter. There’s no need to stop at two of you either - why not get multiple businesses involved!
Enhance or ‘Bundle’ your Offerings
This is something I haven’t yet done myself, but would definitely be interested in the future! Working with another business owner to create a ‘bundled’ service (eg. ‘Coaching and branding package’, or ‘Hair, makeup and photography package’) relies on you being very close and trusting with the other person, and also perhaps having quite similar processes and working styles too so that the relationship with the client is as smooth as possible.
However, for product-based businesses, creating ‘bundled’ products with other product-based businesses would have complementary offerings to you could be a fantastic way for you both to grow profits. For example, a swimwear brand could partner up with a company that creates towels, sunglasses, beach bags, or suncream, to create a ‘beach ready’ bundle that all sells together. This again combines marketing resources and gets everyones products seen by new audiences who are likely to be similar target customers.
I’m excited to be planning some events and in-person workshops in 2019 with my best friend, Olivia Bossert. She is a fashion photographer and photography coach (I’ve featured her on this blog before!) and we definitely have a target audience overlap with her coaching clientele. Therefore, we are planning on running workshops with those people in mind, so we can combine our budgets, expertise and marketing efforts to offer something that will help grow both our businesses.
If you are an accountant, for example, you could consider offering workshops alongside a lawyer or business coach. Or for wedding stylists, why not consider hosting your own pop-up fair with some wedding photographers, makeup artists, bridal shops and other industry businesses.
Collaborations & Features
This is most often seen in product-based businesses - for example with clothing - where two designers will collaborate on an item or a range, and create something totally unique together. These are usually limited edition and there’s hype around the fact that it’s a unique creation by both!
Again, this is a great way of combining resources and talent, to create something amazing that both audiences will value, and each business is given exposure in front of the other’s relevant audience too.
+ Affiliates & Sponsorship
These types of partnerships are much less relationship-driven and more like general marketing/advertising tactics, but they could still be a good option for you; you don’t have to be an ‘influencer’ for these type of partnerships to work well either.
Affiliate marketing is actually fairly similar to the referral scheme I described above. If you become an affiliate for a business, it means that when people use your special link or use a code or mention you when they purchase from that business, you then get a % commission on that purchase. It’s a more hands-off, automated approach than a referral scheme though, and often doesn’t require you to even interact with the other business owner at all. This is commonly used with businesses selling courses; other business owners often have taken the course themselves and want to share how great it way, and will use an affiliate program so that they can share it AND get a kick-back from it.
Sponsorship is when you pay to be featured on another business owner’s social media, website or other collateral (eg. at events). It’s usually a one-sided exchange but there’s nothing stopping a couple of business owners doing a ‘mention for mention’ type exchange. These can work great if it’s something the sponsoree’s audience will truly value and appreciate, but can come across spammy if not.
* Please note, with affiliates and sponsorships, you are legally required to declare a paid partnership. You can read more about these legalities in my ‘legal guidelines for bloggers’ article.
Action: Go and make a list of all the types of businesses you could partner with, and start to research ones that you’d like to work with - you can start always locally as a good starting point!
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