Partnerships and alliances are great for businesses no matter what size. Big corporations and have been known to do this and alliances can bring major marketing benefits for small businesses too for example:

  • Laptops that are bundled with anti-virus software.
  • The local gym membership giving you discount vouchers for a sports store.
  • Pub’s working with the local sports clubs
  • Hairdressers giving discount cards with local beauticians & wedding planners

Building smart relationships are always good for business, but now it’s more important than ever, and there are opportunities everywhere.

Partnerships. Alliances. Collaboration.

So what is a marketing partner? Partnerships are unique, sometimes difficult and expensive. They are completely different to the normal customer and supplier relationships, they need careful planning and strong relationships. You can always win new customers and find new suppliers, but partners are high value – and high risk too.

Revenue partners

These are the critical top priority customers, the ones that demand expert services. They may want a tailored package or their own account manager. A revenue partner could be a valuable re-seller, a key sales channel or a vital sponsor. If you have referrers (affiliates), make sure you reward them for passing trade your way and look to explore how they can send even more business to your checkout.

Product partners

Essential suppliers are vital revenue partners, difficult to replace as well. It could be a big product that you distribute exclusively or an add-on like technology or packaging.

If it is a truly critical partner then you need specialist relationship management. Consider building a Service Level Agreement (SLA) scheduling stock calls, regular monthly reports and quarterly reviews. Bundling is another tactic that has been popular with the PC and software business marketing. By adding something that fits perfectly with your product, to add value to your end consumer.

You could build joint plans and encourage a better flow of communication with your key suppliers. This could make sure you avoid stock surprises and take full advantage of new opportunities before your competition does.

Alliances

These allow partners to collaborate and exchange value, building and sharing plenty of smart marketing benefits. For example, a group of retailers who get together to build a late night Christmas shopping promotion is an alliance.

You should check who fit’s right with your business or what service could be an easy add-on to your service.  This can be as simple as a hairdresser knowing local wedding planners and nail bars, and building a joint offer for brides.

Promotional and PR partnerships

These enable you to leverage additional value by tailoring your marketing activities to fit with those from another business. You can offer value in the form of free products or services, or access to your customer base. At best, you can get a lot from doing something very simple, such as swapping discounts or adding mutual links between your website and your partner’s.

Offering your product or service for free is an easy way to influence and negotiate publicity in local media and at events.