As a new or growing business it is important to ensure you are changing your marketing techniques from time to time. However, if one or multiple marketing techniques are working–Don’t fix it!! Creating an alliance may be something to consider.
A great way to market that many may overlook is to effectively build a business alliance. A business alliance is an agreement between businesses, usually motivated by reducing costs and/or improved customer service. Trust me, there are plenty of small businesses that are also looking for new innovative ideas and would welcome an alliance that would be beneficial! Creating a business alliance does not necessary create a legal partnership. Your businesses can remain independent of each other.
Imagine owning a pediatric clinic which you only practice general medicine, but having an excellent pediatric orthopedic surgeon to whom you can refer your patients with broken bones. You look GREAT to the patient and they will appreciate the referral and hopefully remain loyal to your business. Additionally the other physician benefits and can refer other patients to you. It is a win-win situation. Another scenario, imagine owning a child care center and planning an open house/ festival. The cost associated with that is great. However if you partner with a pediatric dentist to host the event you
1) cut down on costs
2)benefit from the dentist’s invited guests which could possibly need your services
3.) You have created credibility because another company has chosen to affiliate with you.
Creating these partnerships may take a bit of work on your part, but it will definitely be beneficial if done correctly. When creating these alliances it is important to be sure you and the other company share the same expectations. If the expectations are not clear someone may feel cheated or feel as though they have wasted their time. In the instance that happens, people definitely talk and someone can get a bad reputation in the community.
Speaking of reputations… Check your potential alliance’s reputation. It would hurt you more than it would help your company to be looked at as a business that would “partner” with another that generally is not favorable in your community. In the proverbial words of my grandmother, “You cannot jump into bed with everyone! You can get up with fleas!” (smile) Protect your brand as if it were your child. It is hard to build a brand, but relatively easy to destroy one.
Another piece of advice is to ensure the two companies share similar views, cultural similarities, etc. The alliance needs to make sense! You can’t be a minority business forming an alliance with a business that financially supports a minority hate group. Do your research, ask questions and follow that up with even MORE research!
In addition be clear of what you are sharing. This includes materials, costs and other possible reoccurring fees. It may be necessary to put everything in writing in a clear and concise manner to avoid confusion.
It may take some creativity on your part to find a business that is not your competition, but related to your products/ services. Be sure to know your targeted demographics and look for a company seeking and/or maintaining a clientele in that demographic. Further, if you are a new business, seek a more established business.You can create an alliance AND learn from them!
Just be sure to talk it over and make it beneficial for both of you. You will likely have to “sell” your business to them as if they are a consumer! If you aren’t excited about your business, don’t expect them to be excited to work with you!! Once you have mastered creating these alliances it can be very beneficial for both parties involved. This will take you one step closer to being that innovative marketing guru!! Yes, remember you signed up for that role when you decided to be an entrepreneur?