Prepare to Partner
Benefits of partnering
Employing the collaborative help of others is crucial to the success of every SME. There simply isn’t the time available to acquire all of necessary skill sets, knowledge, contacts or resources for your business to grow by itself. Careful planning around potential partnering options can be the difference between stagnant and exponential growth. Whether with clients, competitors or ‘frenemies’, allied services or professions with who you share a natural synergy. Or simply those targeting a similar customer base or sharing a similar location, the potential alliances are almost endless, but which route is best for you and your business?
Partnering with clients
Challenge yourself to start communicating with your clients and sharing information on a deeper level. They may find them useful, or help them to achieve their business objectives. If you are only interacting with your clients when they buy something from you, they will see you as just another vendor.
Is there an event you have heard about that might be of benefit your client? Then share it. You are providing them something of value that they aren’t paying for. Which extends the parameters of the usual supplier / client relationship.
Another example is the legal practice that hosts seminars for family businesses, partnering with some of its successful clients, also family businesses, and inviting them to speak to the room about how they negotiate the unique challenges of working with close family. The event is mutually beneficial, increasing the credibility and trust of the legal practice in the eyes of its target market, whilst providing valuable PR and exposure for the speakers.
Partnering with local businesses
As you look to scale up within your local area, partnering with other local businesses can be an effective route. Think about the physiotherapist renting an office near the local sports centre, with a discount offered for any customers introduced and vice versa.
Partnerships between allied professions often have a natural synergy, such as the accountant and financial advisor, or estate agent and mortgage broker, and are typically successful because clients may require the advice of both professions to meet their objectives.
Joint venture partnerships
A joint venture allows two companies to implement marketing campaigns aimed at their combined customer lists. Each company will not be in direct competition. But have common customers that would benefit from each other’s products or services.
Two businesses with active blogs and social media strategies can leverage their respective online assets to increase their scope and reach online. Promoting their respective businesses, products and services can not only generate enquiries in the short-term. But also in the long-term through content being indexed and searchable for customers to find through search engines.
Partnerships with your ‘frenemies’
Don’t be afraid to explore all opportunities when it comes to collaborating. Even if that means working with a competitor who targets a different niche. It is important to be prudent and not give away any secrets that truly separate you from any competitor. But if there is a mutual benefit it can help you both unlock growth.
A cleaning business that only operates in a specific geographic area may consider passing leads that fall outside of your area to another reputable cleaner. Perhaps you are plumber that doesn’t offer boiler installation services or a soft landscaper that doesn’t offer hard landscaping. In return, pass leads back in the other direction or pay a royalty.
In summary, partnerships come in many different guises. For a joint venture to thrive it is crucial that there is a values match between the companies. A high level of communication is maintained throughout the partnership. Clear objectives are established. And there is a fair division of labour, investment and rewards. Those companies who are adept at alliances will succeed.
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