Building a brand takes work and strategy. Often times, entrepreneurs or small businesses want a way to really increase brand presence and exposure, and find organic avenues to find new customers. Building strategic partnerships is one way to do all of this and it’s something you should definitely have on your to do list!
A strategic partner is someone who can help your business grow by giving you exposure and access to their customer or follower base. They might work with you to do blog posts, reviews, contests, discount campaigns, emails – you name it. Basically, think of it as a two way, win-win relationship you build with a like-minded company or entrepreneur. Maybe it’s a joint lead generation campaign, or maybe its just referrals. There’s no limit to how big or small your partnership can be.
There is power in numbers, and with the right strategic partnerships you can leverage the power of making the right connections. Let’s talk about how.
Identify the gap you want to fill
A strategic partnership is only powerful if it can actually add value to each others business. There’s no point in partnering with someone if it’s only going to fill a need you are already servicing. Really think about what your weaknesses are in your business and then aim for fill those weaknesses through a strategic partnership.
For example, let’s say you’re lacking customers during business hours, but you’re swamped on evenings and weekends. Who can you partner with to do a 9-5 promotion? What company really has the 9-5 market tapped that can drive customers to your business during the hours you need? Identify what you’re hoping to gain – whether it’s email subscriptions, blog views, more customer traffic, social media followers – and then find companies that are properly aligned with yours who can help you fill that gap.
Have something to offer
A strategic partnership goes both ways (yes, we’re going to say that a lot!). Before you go knocking on doors of companies or people you want to team up with, identify what you have to offer as well. Whether it’s a ton of Instagram followers, or a product people absolutely love, or even a deal that you know is a guaranteed success, you’ll need this as a tool to get people to want to partner with you.
Go to every meeting prepared with stats on your company, business, and customer base so you can make sure you wow them with what you have to offer.
Online vs. Offline
While a lot of strategic partnerships can really help you in the online world, don’t forget the ones that can help you offline. Perhaps it’s someone who can introduce you to their network of contacts in exchange for your services, or a great contact who can hook you up with some meeting spaces in exchange for your help with presentations.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners have a lot to offer each other. Identify the people you wish to emulate and go ask them for a coffee. Know your worth, offer it up, and create yourself a strong network of people who have an “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” attitude.
When introducing the partnership idea to people online, mimic what you would do or say in person. Online methods are very similar to in person situations!
It’s quality over quantity when it comes to strategic partnerships. Don’t partner with anything and everything that comes your way. This goes hand in hand with having a strong brand identity – know who you are and what you want to be known for. The last thing you want to do is turn off your customers by partnering with someone or something that doesn’t make sense to your customer base. Just like anything in life and business, remember to be authentic.
This goes the same for personal relationships. No matter how successful or influential someone is, don’t waste your time if they aren’t a person who shares your values. It’s okay to decide that someone isn’t for you. It's okay to say no!
The power of saying no goes a long way when you’re trying to create a partnership strategy. Don’t be afraid to take a pass on something that doesn’t feel right. Also, make sure you continuously evaluate the partnerships you to make every so often to ensure it’s still mutually beneficial and aligned with your objectives.
Remember, a strategic partnership is only a partnership if both parties are winning!