I’ve used marketing partnerships extensively over the past decade to accelerate my business growth. In my first business, an online shopping website for women, I relied on marketing partnerships to grow my business into a community of 150,000 women. I never spent more than $300 in any month on advertising and, as I became more experienced in my marketing partnerships, I was able to completely halt all other advertising spend. In my second business, a marketing consultancy, I’ve used marketing partnerships to minimise my expenses. Marketing partnerships have allowed me to fund my first book and the first year of my podcast. They’ve also enabled me to position my business, drive referrals and grow my profile both here in Australia and internationally. I love that marketing partnerships allow me to work collaboratively with other brands and business owners to grow my business.
I’m not alone in my passion for marketing partnerships. Forrester Consulting believes they are critical to growth, recently reporting that businesses with established partnerships grow their revenue significantly faster and larger than those businesses who don’t have established marketing partnerships. So why aren’t more businesses using marketing partnerships? As a Marketing and Opportunity Strategist who has worked extensively with entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them identify and negotiate their own marketing partnerships, I’ve found three things holding people back.
#1 They don’t know where to start
Many business owners approach me to help them with marketing partnerships as they don’t know where to start. They understand that marketing partnerships are a smart way to grow their business but are a little stumped when it comes to working out their first move. Who should they approach? What should they ask for? How should they reach out? The whole thing feels a little overwhelming and so they continue to invest in other marketing activities. I love working with these people. By taking them through my partnership framework, they feel confident in exactly how to identify, approach and negotiate with a potential marketing partner. Once they have this skill, they see their business in a whole new light. Opportunities abound and they actively seek to create them.
#2 They undervalue their worth
Without question, one of the biggest issues I see small business owner is that they fail to understand how valuable they are. Just because something comes easily to them they discount its value to someone else. When this happens, marketing partnerships become grossly unbalanced. The business owner gives away huge amounts of value and gets very little in return when they could have received so much more. I encourage small business owners to get clear about their value before making any approaches to a potential partner. Investing the time to really unpack all your skills and expertise and understanding what’s important to a potential partner will go a long way in negotiating an equal exchange of value in future partnership agreements.
#3 They play small
One of the misnomers about negotiating marketing partnerships is that you should approach a business of similar size. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I launched my second business, I approached a big brand to collaborate with me. I didn’t know anybody at the company but I had done my research, knew what would be attractive to them and pitched it to them. Without ever meeting them in-person, we negotiated a deal which paid for more than half of my expenses related to producing and printing my book. I believe it’s important that small businesses understand that they can create effective, mutually beneficial marketing partnerships with big brands. In fact, I’d go a step further and say that, with big brands having their marketing budgets slashed due to Covid, we have seen brands looking for innovative, low cost ways to grow their brands. Your business has never looked so good to a big brand. Be bold and aim high.
With the new financial year upon us, I challenge you to consider using marketing partnerships to accelerate your business growth. To help you to get started I’ve prepared the 8 Tips for Successful Marketing Partnerships which you can access here: https://www.katrinamccarter.com/partnershiptips/
About the Author
Katrina McCarter is the creator of OUT LOUD Marketing Partnerships, a six month program where she works with entrepreneurs and small business owners helping them to identify and negotiate their own marketing partnerships.