In my first business I built an online community of more than 150 000 women. There is no way this would have been possible without creating marketing partnerships.
Thinking back, I must have run with over fifty marketing partnerships since I first went into my first business nine years ago. Whilst most were short-term arrangements, many were longer term. Partnerships can be incredibly rewarding both financially and personally, many of my partners who I approached ‘cold’ are now people I think of as my friends.
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Marketing partnerships can be used to generate leads, fund a project (I funded a book and its postage for the first year), position your business, highlight a key point of difference, grow your database and deliver more sales.
If you are looking for a low-cost way to grow your business in 2020 and beyond, I encourage you to explore marketing partnerships.
I believe there are some essential things you need to get right:
1) KNOW YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
All good marketing partnerships help a business achieve their goals. However, often I find business owners can leap into a marketing partnership without much consideration for how it serves what the business is really trying to get done.
I once spoke with a colleague who was approached by a really big brand to collaborate. This marketing partnership was going to take an enormous amount of time for my colleague to administer but they were excited by the prospect of working with such a big brand. In our discussion it quickly became obvious to me that not only was this marketing partnership going to divert their focus away from the core business objectives set for the year. It was actually going to put the business at risk.
Instead, I convinced them that they could ‘have their cake and eat it too’. They went back and negotiated a much smaller collaborative partnership. This enabled them to leverage against this big brand and help them position themselves in the marketplace, but it would only take a very small amount of their time and had direct benefit in achieving their business goals. This marketing partnership is successful as it places the business objectives at the forefront of the negotiation.
2) UNDERSTAND YOUR ASSETS
Most businesses fail to do this essential step. Before you know who you would like to partner, you need to understand what you have to offer. Whilst most people reel off their database and social media statistics as their assets, I think it is equally important to look at all your skills, however unrelated they may appear. Some of my most successful partnerships have come from having an awareness and understanding that I am resourceful and can make things happen.
In one partnership, I was able to attract and work with two businesses much larger and more influential than mine because I offered to do all the legwork. I located a highly desired prize, found another third party to fund it, and handled all the behind the scenes administration. The bigger businesses only had to worry about some promotional posts to their communities. I gained a huge number of new members, literally thousands, to my community who all matched my ideal customer profile purely because I understood that my organisation and negotiating skills would be valued by potential partners.
3) DEMONSTRATE MUTUALITY
For a marketing partnership to be seen to be successful it needs to have mutual benefits for all parties. Furthermore, these benefits need to be seen as ‘equal’. It’s important that any pitch you put together can demonstrate that what both parties are doing creates equally valuable outcomes for each party.
I get businesses pitching marketing partnerships to me every week. Most of them I dismiss as the entire pitch is all about them and lacks any consideration of what I might want from the partnership. They are asking me for way more than they are offering me. I dismiss them instantly. It shows me that they don’t understand the concept of mutuality.
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT MARKETING PARTNERSHIP?
Many business owners understand that marketing partnerships are an excellent way to grow their business but they struggle to know where to start. The very thought of having to identify and negotiate a marketing partnership leaves them feeling overwhelmed. I want to change this.
I have launched my OUT LOUD Marketing Partnerships program which is specifically designed for small business owners who want to put a real focus on learning how to master marketing partnerships. Over six months, with a combination of 1 on 1 training with me and monthly webinars I will help business owners see more opportunities for their business than they ever have before and equip them with a marketing partnership framework so you can successfully identify and negotiate your own partnerships. You can find out more about the program here: www.katrinamccarter.com/outloud/
I believe that collaboration is no longer just an option. It is essential for any Small Business. A successful marketing partnership is the most cost-effective way to grow your business.
Challenge yourself. Step outside your comfort zone. Amazing things can happen.