How can a bootstrapped startup quickly increase awareness for their product, gain new customers, and establish credibility? If you’re considering putting your product in a blender, or getting Ashton Kutcher to endorse your brand – - take a cold shower!
A better approach is to focus on developing a strategic alliance with a company that provides a complimentary product or service. For example, a newly launched pet e-commerce site that features high-end leashes and collars could explore a partnership with an online dog food company that sells premium brands, or with a doggy daycare that caters to upscale clientele.
An Enormous Upside
Marketing partnerships are not easy, but if done correctly, the potential benefits are enormous and include the following:
So What Makes a Successful Partnership?
Here are 5 tips to help you create winning partnerships:
1. Get to know your partner.
Partnerships are like dating – - a quickie marriage to someone you just met in Vegas rarely works out. Start by researching the potential partner’s past relationships, and look on social networks for any red flags. Remember that the right partner can convey credibility, but the wrong partner can ruin your reputation!
Partnerships can provide exposure to a wider audience of potential customers. When exploring prospects, look for those that not only have a good-sized following, but also similar audience demographics and psychographics.
3. Clarify each party’s responsibilities in writing.
This is the most important tip if you wish to avoid any miscommunication (or “he said, she said”) down the road. It’s critical to clearly spell out in writing what is expected from each partner such as:
4. Create a special offer.
Good partnerships normally include some kind of special discount. The perceived value of the offer to your partner’s audience needs to be high, and it should help solve one of their problems, or reduce a pain point.
5. Focus on the benefits.
So why would a bigger, more established company be interested in your unknown startup? One reason is that you may have a highly qualified target audience that represents exciting new sales prospects. The key to attracting a partner’s attention is to highlight anything that can potentially impact their bottom line. And always remember that they don’t care how a partnership may help you. They just want to know “What’s in it for me?”
Bonus tip: Never break a promise.
If you initiated the partnership, you need to prove that your partner made the right decision in aligning their brand with yours. Manage their expectations, pay attention to detail, respond quickly to problems, and demonstrate a strong commitment to a successful outcome for both parties.
A partnership is not a quick fix. It is not a magic pill that will solve all your business problems, or provide entry to the matrix.
But it can get you invited to the party, so put on your best dress and go flirt!