Strategy

Thinking of collaborating? Four factors to consider before partnering with another business

Warwick Boulter /

Warwick Boulter Collaboro

Collaboro co-founder and chief executive officer Warwick Boulter. Source: Supplied.

We live in a market that is saturated with entrepreneurs and small businesses, so finding a business that complements yours can be an incredible way to share your marketing budget and be introduced to new audiences.

Business partnerships and affiliations can effectively build momentum and new leads for your business, as well as the other business you link up with. Importantly, partnership marketing can work well for all businesses, whether big or small, as they expand your reach to previously inaccessible audiences.

Strategic alliances also allow you to combine resources and efforts with another business to help you more easily reach your business goals, and accelerate traction. 

According to one study by marketing firm Hinge, a third of high-growth firms rated partnership marketing as the most effective marketing technique of all out of 24 possible marketing techniques in the survey.

So, given alliances can be very effective, when looking for another business with which to partner, here are some important factors you should consider.

1. A natural fit

If you are looking to partner with another business to boost your own sales, it is crucial that your businesses can work together and produce complementary products and aren’t competitors.

It’s also important to have overlapping target audiences in order to maximise the benefits of the partnership. In a world of over 7000 marketing technology products, being a niche expert is increasingly important. Partnering with other niche experts in synergistic ways allows you to stay top of mind with your customers — continually adding value and capability at a relationship level, not just a product level.

2. Gaining connections from the partnership

Being successful in business requires that you consistently make new connections with a target audience. So, if you are looking to form a partnership with another business, it is crucial to examine their business network to see how broad it is. Imagine if you were able to multiply your connection a factor of 10, or 100. Partnership marketing can really work to extend your reach.

While every contact you make may not result in a sale, every time you reach out to someone new, you are expanding your network. The strongest business partnerships will give you access to your ideal target audience. And your existing audience should benefit from the partnership too.

Today, companies such as Salesforce are partnering with multiple businesses to provide complementary products and create value for their existing clients which they can’t create on their own.

An example is the Salesforce-Apple partnership announced late last year. This partnership will enable each business to expand each other’s portfolios, Apple solidifying its foothold in CRM technology and Salesforce by making its CRM functions more accessible on iOS systems. Here, each company benefits from the other party’s huge audience and is clearly expanding its customer base.

Another example of a business partnership is Macy’s and Buzzfeed’s partnership to create the Goodful™ brand. Created for Macy’s by Buzzfeed, the brand includes 100 home-goods products and enables BuzzFeed to extend the digital brand’s reach by leveraging Macy’s customer base.  

3. Saving time and money

Not to be overemphasised, collaborative relationships involve successfully splitting costs. If you can share your marketing expenses, you can conceivably double or triple your budget, without having to spend an extra cent.

You can be fairly certain you will be getting a bigger bang for your buck provided all of the parties involved are equally invested in the collaboration.  So, it’s important that your partner puts in the resources that you do, and that one party isn’t piggybacking off the other, which can quickly lead to a crumbling of the relationship.

4. Gaining credibility through the affiliation

Gaining credibility through affiliation with a highly respected brand can bring a big boost to your business. Your business will benefit from exposure through a trusted provider of a service or product, that has its own following.

An example of such an affiliation could be content sharing or writing a blog for your partner’s website, which can be effective partnership marketing. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort, but it can pay dividends as you appear as an expert on a reputable partner’s site which can boost your authority in the minds of your target audience.

Other examples of content sharing might be if you have an annual client day, you might offer your partner a speaking spot. Or consider inviting your partner to co-host a webinar or to co-present at a conference that targets your audience.

When done effectively with a well-selected partner, partnership marketing can deliver mutual benefits and a high return-on-investment for both parties. It can become an invaluable way for your business to expand and reach new audiences, without putting in all the effort yourself.

NOW READ: How smart brands are approaching collaboration

NOW READ: Dinner deals startup Buddy scores Uber partnership after just six months of trading

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Warwick Boulter

Warwick is the co-founder and chief executive officer at Collaboro.

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