Every business – despite size and scope – strives to profit from the respective products or services it offers to the market. While an organization may have a solid marketing plan in place and a second-to-none sales team, building solid relationships with other businesses and incorporating them into the sales strategy is an important way to further your chances of achieving success. In doing so, measures must be taken ensure a solution that is a win/win for all parties involved – by offering something in return. The old adage holds true here, “if you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours.”
Many of the organizations I have worked for, including my current business, have been committed to working in collaboration with other ‘like-minded’ businesses that operate in the same space or offer a complimentary product or service. The approach has always been the same – while we want what is best for our own company, we also feel good knowing we have the ability to help others in our industry succeed. If executed well, as much as 50 percent of business and leads can end up coming through organizations with which you’re partnered, significantly increasing the reach and revenue of your company.
Identifying the right partners and nurturing the development of these partner relationships over time can lead to long-term success. Here are three things to consider as you develop your program:
Showcase the Benefits of Association: If you have a well-known brand, encourage other companies to do business with you because of the association that could enhance their reputation. Visible brands can significantly extend their reach, reputation and credibility in the market. If your brand is still getting off the ground, highlight your unique value proposition in the industry. What are you doing that is different that will help your partners stand out? Work to identify how associating with your company will have a positive impact on your partner’s business. Be sure to communicate and validate those unique qualities during the ‘courting’ process.
Create Co-Marketing Opportunities: Providing promotional opportunities that will increase visibility for your partners’ product and service offerings beyond their own marketing campaigns is a critical element of any two-way partnership. For example, highlighting them on your website, in promotional materials, and event presentations, etc. can go a long way toward increasing their willingness to do the same for you. For example, many company websites provide scrolling partner logos on their home pages, or fully dedicated partner pages where site visitors can read more about each partners’ products and services. While you continue to drive direct sales, it is essential to also act as a good business partner by helping to promote the companies that support your products.
Offer Special Treatment: Companies that agree to co-promote your wares should reap the benefits of their loyalty. One of the ways to ensure they are getting the treatment they deserve is to provide deals and promotions that aren't accessible to other businesses. For example, you may offer retailers wholesale pricing on your products or discounts on products they may want to utilize for their own businesses in addition to re-selling them. The important thing is to make partner businesses feel they are an extension of your company by providing exclusive incentives that provide them an opportunity to profit.
Inviting other like businesses to contribute to your company's mission can be a lucrative proposition. Forming long-lasting partnerships with these businesses can significantly increase your potential to produce results and reach new audiences. As you develop your partner program, remember to focus on incorporating strategies that will benefit partners in return. If approached the right way, the result will be greater visibility and better business outcomes for everyone.
Jeff Hunt is founder and CEO of Snap36, provider of online 360 degree/3D spin photography solutions and services.