Getting Creative with Partnerships

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When someone is just starting out they will ask me to give them some tips on how to get some business going quickly – after I talk about building a long-term marketing mindset – I often point them down the path of strategic partnerships. Creating the right partnership or two can create an instant and steady flow of leads.

There are some obvious ways to go with this:

A group of home services providers get together to promote actively to each other’s customers and create an entire network of providers. So, the plumber, electrician, HVAC, lawn care, roofing, and alarm company create joint marketing materials with coupons and special offers and the technicians drop it off with each call.

Or, a service business example

Accountant, Bank, Insurance, Lawyer, IT consultant and Management consultant get together and offer full day or 1/2 day of great workshops. Each invites their own customer base and gets exposure to the collective attendees.

But, what I really like, because it can create more buzz than the typical, logical relationships, is when a couple of businesses that you don’t normally think of as partners can find a creative way to mutually benefit each other.

For example:

1) I was out in Colorado last week and went to a coffee shop that offered free fly casting lessons every day out on the stream that ran behind the store. The coffee shop received business each day as families came in to get the free lesson. The lesson was held by a local fishing shop that signed up participants each day for their guided fishing tours. (The coffee shop owner even said some people just come in to watch.)

2) An IT consulting firm wanted to partner with CPAs at large firms so to get their attention they brought in a masseuse and the CPAs were treated to a back massage as they listened to the presentation. Not only did the IT firm stand out and get the attention of the sometimes reluctant CPAs, the massage business acquired new customers.

Two keys for any of these to work
1) Must target the same ideal customer
2) Must trust each other to take good care – these are referrals after all

What’s the most creative partnership you’ve witnessed or participated in? Was it successful?

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Referrals.


marketing partnerships, referrals, strategic partnerships

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