Too many small businesses owners have an “us against the world” mentality. They stay in their own bubble, focus on their closest competition, and work every day to be better than the competition. But if your focus is that narrow, you’ll miss opportunities to expand your business by working with other businesses.
The truth is, running a successful business is all about collaboration. You collaborate with your team to provide the best product and service to your customers. You collaborate with your customers to identify their ideal solutions then deliver them. You collaborate with your vendors and suppliers to get the tools you need to deliver your product or service to your customers. Everything comes back to collaboration.
But even outside of these defined roles, there are ways to forge relationships with other businesses that can help both sides succeed. For example, my organization provides marketing consulting, but every one of our clients need help with their website. We aren’t experts in website coding and creation. In order for us to succeed, we have to develop partnerships with organizations that can deliver website help in the manner we prescribe.
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This is what I would call a strategic partnership. We work together to provide a service that normally would be reserved for larger clients and bigger budgets.
There are other kinds of partnerships small businesses should take advantage of as well. You could forge a relationship based on co-marketing each other’s product. Say your business shares a similar target market with another business, but aren’t competitors. Their sales leads could be incredibly invaluable to you, and vice versa. Sharing marketing materials and offers for their customers can be lucrative.
For example, I once worked with an electrical contractor, a heating and cooling contractor and a plumbing contractor that carried each other’s marketing materials and offers in the service technician’s trucks. At the end of each call, the technician was incentivized to pitch the other businesses with a coupon. This effort effectively doubled the amount of leads each organization received almost overnight.
You can even work with other business owners to create content for your marketing endeavors. Once you start to develop content assets, one of the greatest ways to leverage those assets is to let other people share them.
Today we have to build relationships with publishers, bloggers, and organizations in need of content and use these relationships in ways to effectively get referred to tens of thousands of people currently outside of your network.
For example, we produce eBooks from our content rather consistently, and instead of simply putting them on our website and calling it done, we shop these eBooks out to organizations that have our ideal client as part of their ecosystem and allow them to co-brand and distribute the content to their world. We even reach out to popular bloggers and ask to have their work included in our eBooks, and would do the same if they asked.
Providing content for outside blogs is also a great way to increase your network. Take the contractors I discussed above. If all three shared occasional content between their blogs, they would essentially be able to answer any home maintenance question. Their blogs would dominate their local Google rankings.
Small businesses can’t provide everything for everyone. This is why partnerships can be so valuable. You will be able to offer more to your customers, reach more of those customers, and provide better content to them.
The bottom line is simple: You’re not in this alone.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best-selling author Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine. His blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast, a top ten marketing show on iTunes was called a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine.