Why one in three SMEs are turning to marketing partnerships in 2014: More bang for their buck

For the second year in a row, 180 Port Melbourne retailers have banded together to promote their shopping strip.

Each is pitching in to a matching fit out of their stores for Christmas, which will showcase 4.5 kilometres of Port-Melbourne-themed Christmas displays for the season.

The event was a hit last year, with retailers hopeful of a repeat.

Alone, it’s unlikely the stores could individually achieve the level of exposure from their marketing efforts. But by banding together, they’ve created a buzz.

They’re not the only ones looking at buddying up to raise their profile.

According to SmartCompany’s Crowe Horwath/SmartCompany Directions survey, close to one in three of the 1000 businesses surveyed said they planned to pursue marketing partnerships to get their name in front of new customers.

It was the most popular marketing strategy, beating things like social media (nominated by 24.8% as a key component of their marketing strategy) and SEO (15.8%).

This doesn’t surprise Michelle Gamble, CEO of Marketing Angels, who says partnerships are a way to get more “bang for your marketing buck”.

“There has to be benefits to both sides for this to occur,” she says. “But usually, you don’t see money change hands. It’s not a money thing. It’s about having that alignment there between your customers and theirs.”

Sarah Curran, the founder of my-wardrobe.com, told SmartCompany in June that when it came to growing her online fashion business, marketing had always been the biggest challenge.

“We just didn’t have the cash to invest in customer acquisition,” she said.

So she turned to marketing partnerships. “That’s how we started our relationship with Dell,” she said. “We partnered with people who were much bigger than us, but not in fashion. We thought about the brands our customers were engaged with, in terms of beauty, lifestyle, health and technology. We used partnerships to bring us new audiences.”

It’s something Gamble wishes more businesses did.

“I think that partnerships and alliances are something that businesses include as part of standard marketing planning process.

“Businesses look at the obvious things, but often don’t often include partnerships. They should. Almost any business, if it thinks outside the square, will identify areas of common interest they can tap into to reach new buyers.”

The Crowe Horwath /SmartCompany Directions survey will be released on Thursday.

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