How To Build A Strategic Partner Network

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Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

john-jantschIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I’m doing part four of a solo show series where I’m covering one of my favorite topics: referrals. You can catch the first episode, second episode, and third episode of the Referral Generation series here.

Key Takeaway:

I’m doing a series on Referral Generation where I’m presenting what I’m calling the seven grades of referral fuel.

In the first episode of the series, I introduce all seven approaches. In the second episode, I dive into why you should have referral offers for every client and what those offers should look like. In the third episode, I share why there’s immense value in working with partners who also serve your existing clients and why leveraging your internal team for referral generation is essential.

In this episode, I talk about one of the most powerful forms of lead generation your business can build: strategic partnerships. One of the most effective ways to generate lots of high-quality referrals is to develop a network of partners that you are strategically aligned with.

Topics I cover:

  • [2:04] Why create a strategic partner network
  • [2:47] The frame of mind to have when building a strategic partnership
  • [3:04] Making yourself more valuable to your clients
  • [3:25] The first step to building a strategic partner network
  • [4:42] Why a process is essential for strategic partnerships to be successful
  • [5:15] Why this is one of the most potent strategies for referrals
  • [6:11] Getting clear on who your ideal customer is
  • [6:44] Knowing your marketing process so you can follow up
  • [8:12] What the perfect introduction process is
  • [10:07] Getting referrals isn’t the only goal — it’s about establishing relationships with people who can become a valuable asset to your business
  • [12:00] Developing partnerships from a co-marketing standpoint
  • [13:55] Creating referral reward options

Resources I mention:

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by my friend, Ben Shapiro brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes, you can listen to an under 30 minutes. The MarTech podcast share stories from world-class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success. Recent episode, one of my favorite extending the lifetime value of your customer. You know, I love to talk about that. Listen to the MarTech podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.

John Jantsch (00:43): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jansen. I'm doing another solo show for you, regular listeners. You've probably caught a few shows on referrals. I've done three, I think so far. So you might want to go back and check out the show notes on those. If you want to get up to speed, I'm covering seven grades or seven strategies around how to generate more referrals. You can find the show at The easiest way to catch up on all the shows. But those of you that are regular listeners probably caught the last three shows on this site. So I'm going to jump into another topic. I covered kind of how to stay top of mind with all of your clients, how to create a program specifically for what I call champion clients.

John Jantsch (01:32): Those folks that are, are already referring business to you. I introduced a, what I think is kind of a unique concept of creating a referral platform around your clients, other professionals that serve your clients. You might want to go really check that one out because it is a little bit unique. And then I spent some time the idea of internal referrals. So referrals from your employees, not only for customers, but for also for staff and team members as well. So today I'm going to get into a concept. I've talked about a lot, and that is the idea of creating a strategic partner network. Now, the net result of doing this is going to be, you're going to generate a lot of referrals, but I think there's also, well, well, first off, there's a way to look at it. And that is you're going to create this strategic partner network as an asset for your clients, for your customers, not simply as a way to get more referrals for people, the, the end result, the happy result of doing this is that you will probably get referrals, but it starts with a frame of mind that just says, what would it take?

John Jantsch (02:36): Or what would it look like if you built a network of best of class providers for pretty much everything else that your clients need, that you don't provide. So, so that frame of mind of, of developing, or at least identifying people that when your client comes to you and says, Hey, I I'm really struggling with this challenge. Do you know anybody? You'd be able to say, yes, I actually work with an accountant or a lawyer or whatever it is that you might refer. And, and you, I think you make yourself more valuable to your clients, of course, but, but the net effect is you start actually having some relationships with some strategic partners who then feel a reciprocal obligation, but it starts with this idea of, you know, you're not looking at just generating referrals, you're looking at providing more service, more value to your clients.

John Jantsch (03:25): So the first step is to just identify, you know, who who's out there, who are, what are noncompeting businesses that, that, that you either know by reputation or that people can tell you about. Or you can do research and find, and really identify who might make great strategic partners. And one little tip is, look at your existing clients, go, go ask your clients who they use, or who they respect or who they think are awesome businesses. In many cases, that's a way to really identify and make kind of this strategic partner list, come to life for you because you, you will already have kind of a shared client. And so that might be one pretty easy to have a conversation with. Then there's a practice of really kind of recruiting these folks. You know, a lot of times people will be very passive about this, or are certainly not intentional.

John Jantsch (04:11): And I'm suggesting that you actually reach out to groups or reach out to people that you've put on your list and give them a reason to, to actually know you exist to, to, and I'll talk a little bit about exactly how we do that. You're, you're effectively recruiting them. If you want to think of it that way too, to be a strategic partner with you, then you you've, you've got to have a way to activate them. So what I mean by that is a lot of times people will say, oh, we should be working together. Yeah, we have this mutual client, or maybe they did work together one time and it's like, yeah, we should do that again. But without a process or without somebody saying here's how to do it, here's a really easy way for us to continue to work together. A lot of times, those relationships just kind of fade.

John Jantsch (04:51): You might even take it as far as, as building a floor formal platform. And I, there are many, many ways that, that, that, that can come to life, that I would suggest that you, uh, I'll cover a little bit here that, that you, you know, you, you don't just leave this to, oh yeah. That's a good idea. I should do that. I'll keep my eyes up for that. Actually make this part of your overarching marketing strategy. I think frankly, for some businesses, this is, this can be the most potent strategy or approach that you can take. If you get in front of the right strategic partner and you start thinking about ways that you can work together, ways that you can add value ways that you can get in front of their audience. It may turn into hundreds and hundreds of introductions or leads or prospects with the right strategic partner.

John Jantsch (05:38): So it really, a lot of times when I'm, when people come to me and say, gosh, I'm just getting started my business, where should I start? What should I do to get some traction? A lot of times finding somebody who already has your ideal customer and figuring out a way to add value to them, you know, that that can be a really fast way and a very way to kind of jumpstart your marketing. So the first thing that I always have people do is if you're going to go out to people and start explaining what it is that your business does, or, or maybe start talking about a referral relationship, there's a, there's a couple of things that you need to get clear on so that you can communicate these, um, you know, who is, I mean, how would I spot your ideal customer? If you think about somebody who says, Hey, I'd love to refer you to all my friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

John Jantsch (06:25): Um, you want to be able to tell them, well, here's exactly who we work with. Here's exactly how to present our core message. You know, here are some of the things that a prospect, a great prospect of ours might say that would give you a clue that they really need to get in touch with us if you have a referral offer. So for instance, if somebody refers business to you, you know, what do you do if somebody refers somebody to do, what's your what's even your marketing process so that you can confidently tell people, here's how we're going to follow up. Now you can take this as far as you like, but even if you just scribbled the, the, the answers to these questions on a pad, you're going to be miles ahead. When you're trying to have a conversation, and now let's hear from a sponsor, do you wish you could get more traffic from Google, duh.

John Jantsch (07:13): I mean, but half the battle is understanding what to focus on, what you need to fix on your site. H refs webmaster tools will give you a professional website audit for free H refs will discover optimization opportunities for your website and help you get more organic traffic. You'll see which keywords your pages are ranking for understand how Google sees your content and discover what changes you need to improve your visibility. Imagine the benefits to your business, visit H to sign up for this free tool and connect it to your website. And you're all set. That's a H R E F And you can also find this in our show notes. So, as I mentioned, you've created this list. Let's say you have 10 or 12 potential strategic partners. Here's the process that we've done thousands of times. And it is so effective at getting on people's radar.

John Jantsch (08:12): Getting, getting good, useful conversation started is a process that we call the perfect introduction in reverse. So those questions that I told you, you know, how would I spot your ideal client? How do, how do we present our core message? You know, what our referral offer, you know, our marketing processes, creating those is a way to kind of introduce yourself as, as to somebody or at least introduce somebody who wanted to refer you. But if you want to recruit potential strategic partners, my suggestion is that you write them a note or a letter or an email, whatever form you want to do it, that essentially says, Hey, we have clients or customers that we believe could use your services. We'd love it. If you could teach us the best way to talk about you or refer you to our clients. Now, if you create this document that says, you know, how can I spot your ideal customer?

John Jantsch (09:05): Uh, how would you present? You know, your core message. What you can do now is go to somebody, basically say, look, tell us, you know, how we'd spot your ideal customer, tell us how you'd like us to best present you tell us, you know, maybe who, you know, if you have some testimonials or things that we can share with clients. So you're essentially asking them to share the best way for them to, to, for you to introduce you to them, to their, to your customers. So most people will get that and, and respond, you know, pretty quickly too. I mean, you think about it. You're basically saying we want to refer you. What it does is gives you the opportunity to have then a conversation about what you, what your business is, what your business does, how you could work together. And it don't put anybody on that list.

John Jantsch (09:54): Don't send this note or this a perfect introduction to anybody, unless you truly believe that you would refer them to your best customers. And that's the idea behind this is, is it's not just a way for you to go get more referrals. It's a way for you to start establishing relationships with people who can become a valuable asset to your business. Now, once you have that connection, what I recommend is that you let's say you're going to meet a, that you actually have something in hand to say, okay, I would love to do a video interview with you. I would love to have you on my podcast. I would love to have you write a guest blog post. I would love to take a special offer that you might be able to make, and you'll give it to our clients. Maybe there's a way you could start talking about co-marketing together.

John Jantsch (10:44): Obviously, if you have some referrals to make, make them, if you can rate and review each other or provide testimonials, if you can become customers of theirs and then ultimately, so, so again, this approach of going into it with something tangible to say, here's what I would like to do when we meet is going to get the relationship rolling. It's not just going to be a conversation. Yeah. What are the next steps? I don't know if it's going to create a reason for you to start working together and start building a deeper relationship. At that point, you could start thinking about how could you create events together. Could you do a webinar for them? Could you talk about maybe having a couple of strategic partners meeting together and providing, say a half day of training or information and you would all invite people. So there's just lots of ways that once you start this kind of down this path, it becomes very, I think in many ways, uh, you know, pretty clear the, the ways that you could start working together, if you just start thinking about it, that way you all need content, you all need, you know, extra things that, that, that, that make sense that, you know, for your own marketing.

John Jantsch (11:55): So it really can become an extremely potent way to develop partnerships from a co-marketing standpoint. You know, if you get a strategic partner, that makes sense. I mean, there, there are a lot of cases where they're very logical extensions. You know, you think about the bridal industry, for example, I mean, there's the florist, there's a cake banker. There's the, the invitations. I mean, there's, there's lots of sort of logical strategic partners that make sense. And you start getting ones that just go well together. One time I had a, an HPAC contractor, a painting contractor and electrical contractor, a lot of people who were fixing their homes up, just doing new, normal maintenance on their homes. You know, at some point in time, we're going to need all three of those services. So what we cooked up was all every time their technicians or project managers would go in on site to do a job, they would actually pass out what were essentially gift certificates for the two other partners.

John Jantsch (12:54): So, you know, effectively, they were getting a sales call almost, um, you know, three times as many times. So, you know, think of things like that. And then obviously there's some, some things that are just, they're kind of fun ideas. One time we had a, a tax preparation business and when people would come in to bring in their things and start talking about their, you know, their taxes for the year, they, they actually had, they, they had hired a or partnered with a massage studio. And so people, you know, in a very stressful time, we'd come in and, and have, you know, this kind of nice treat. And obviously both, you know, the massage and the place was maybe going to pick up some regular customers. So it made a lot of sense for them. Now, one last that, that doesn't often get talked about in kind of this partner, strategic partner idea is think in terms of developing a relationship with a, a nonprofit partner.

John Jantsch (13:47): Uh, obviously, I mean, in many businesses are supporting a nonprofit because they're supporting their mission anyway, but maybe haven't explored the ways to think about creating some sort of referral reward options. So let's say that you are having a new product or a law, you know, something you're launching, or maybe it's a seasonal thing. You basically create a special bonus that says, Hey, for everyone purchased this month, we're going to donate X to our nonprofit partner. Obviously that kind of thing. First off, people like it, it shows you're involved in the community, but it also incentivize anybody who already has a relationship with that nonprofit to, you know, board members, volunteers, donors, you know, to, to actually consider your business as well. So lots and lots of ways that you can take this idea of strategic partnering. I really think for some businesses, particularly professional services, businesses where, you know, trust in is such a high, high, high need having that kind of trusted referral or, or strategic partner network.

John Jantsch (14:49): It can really be a great way to kind of take your, take your referral generation and your, your lead generation, quite frankly, to, to new Heights. So that's it for today. I've got one more show on this topic of referrals. So if you have not caught the other three, and now of course this one, I'll have another one coming up this week later as well. And you could put together, it's basically the entire referral package. It's like a book in five shows. So hopefully you're enjoying it. I'd love to hear your feedback. Certainly check out the show notes at All right. Take care out there.

John Jantsch (15:27): All right. So that wraps up another episode. I want to thank you so much for tuning in and, you know, we love those reviews and comments. And just generally tell me what you think also did you know that you could offer the duct tape marketing system, our system to your clients, and build a complete marketing consulting coaching business, or maybe level up an agency with some additional services. That's right. Check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. You can find it at and just scroll down a little and find that offer our system to your client's tab.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Ahrefs.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.


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