How Partnership Marketing impacted my marketing strategy – and why every small business should have one to increase sales.

Partnership Marketing is key to a marketing strategy for small businesses looking to increase sales, attract new clients and build network.

In this article:
What is partnership marketing?
Why should you use it?
How do you know who is the right partner for your business?

A good marketing strategy is essential if you actually want to sell your products or services. No matter how good you are at what you do and how amazing your product or service is. 

And while many small business owners, roll their eyes even at the sound of the word marketing, none of us can deny its importance.  

As a business consultant and a small business owner, I have found a strategy that not only matches my business mindset and core values – but also brings in sales.  

It’s a strategy I used long before I even knew it had an official name.  

And one that I continue to use even as my business grows.  

What is this magical strategy? 

Partnership Marketing.  

It’s my favourite kind of marketing.  

And it’s for every solopreneur and (small) business owner who wants to boost their sales, offer extra value to their clients and build community along the way. 

Wondering if Partnership Marketing is for you?  

And what you should know before you jump into a partnership marketing relationship with another business? 

Here’s are the top 5 things I’ve learnt about successful Partnership Marketing. 

First though, what even is partnership marketing?

Partnership marketing is a collaboration between businesses/and or individuals that promote one another and give each other’s clients benefits.  

Promoting each other can look like   

  • Sharing each other’s posts social media
  • Tagging each other on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook 
  • Guest blog posting on each other’s websites 
  • Referring clients 

And the benefits for your and their clients can include: 

  • discounts on products and services 
  • additional special offers 
  • subscriptions 
  • any other ‘extras’ you can think of 

Additionally, you can also consider doing videos together, inviting each other to give a webinar to your community or even exchanging services and products with each other.  

I’ve done all of these and they make marketing my business so much easier and fun!  

Why should you use it? 

If pushy, manipulative or aggressive selling is your cup of tea – then partnership marketing is not for you! But if marketing that is based on relationship and community with other other like-minded individuals and businesses is what you are looking for, Partnership Marketing comes highly recommended. Not only is it a great way to market your products and services and increase sales – you are also helping other brands grow and building a community.  

And your clients will love you even more for it! 

How do you know who is the right partner for your business? 

Recommending another professional or a business is something to take very personally. I’m involved in various business ventures, and, over the years, have often been approached by numerous individuals over the years, who wanted to gain access to my network.  

Whilst (almost) every one of them seemed nice enough, I’ve never skipped doing my due diligence before saying yes to a partnership proposal. 

Due diligence (or in other words – what you should look out for if you want to enter a Marketing Partnership) is an important first step. True, you are always free to end a partnership that isn’t working for you, but prevention is always better than cure.  

Taking a few moments to assess if the partnership is right for you is not only less stressful in the long run but could also save you both money and time.  

So, if you are considering a marketing partnership, here is what you should be on the lookout for.  

#1 Quality of their services/products 

Unless you are an influencer who gets paid to promote products, you should make sure that you know, first-hand, what the quality of the service/product is.  

If you haven’t had the chance to use it yourself, look for the testimonials from other trusted businesses and individuals. Nowadays, everyone can have awesome reviews online.  

So, make sure the ones you’re basing your decision on, are true. 

#2 Audience 

For partnership marketing to work best, you should have the same target audience. While nearly any type of exposure is good for you, you will see actual increases in sales if you and your partner speak to the same crowd. Take into consideration the demographics, nationality, occupation, and interests of your clients.  

For example, if you are a nutrition specialist, what percentage of your followers are going to care about your recommendation for a car repair shop? 

#3 Client relationship management 

Maybe this should even be the first thing you think about. It’s that important. 

Your clients and followers trust you and will expect a recommendation that not only satisfies their immediate need for a service/product but is also provided in a way that is acceptable to them.  

Simply put, your clients will want to work with someone who does business the way you do business with them. Otherwise, they could’ve just gone with the first result in Google.   
So when you are partnering up with someone, make sure they are nice and decent. And that they have similar values to yours. Your clients are counting on it. Their continued trust in you depends on it. 

#4 Reach 

If another business is approaching YOU, pay some attention to what their reach is.  

Once, one of my ventures received a preposterous partnership proposal which resulted in a very easy ‘NO’ from me. They wanted to use our entire space for free on a weekly basis AND they wanted us to pay them for promoting the location through their social media channels.  

A quick check showed 98 followers on Instagram and about 300 on Facebook. And on top of that, their word-to-mouth reach was even smaller. This didn’t convince me that the partnership was going to benefit both businesses equally and I just couldn’t justify the exchange and investment from my side. 

That said, the level ‘reach’ from the other business is not everything. If you like the business, the idea, and the people behind it, then their current reach might be something you want to overlook. Especially if the other business is just starting out and you know their growth is coming.  

#5 Reciprocity and work attitude 

In any good relationship, there needs to be a healthy amount of reciprocity. And in a marketing partnership, it’s ok if that doesn’t always look like an exact 50-50 exchange.  

If you are in the early start-up phase and if you are approaching another business as a marketing partner, you may find yourself needing to offer more to get their attention and agreement.  

But there should definitely still be something in it for you.  

If you are the one “doing more” (more promotion, higher financial investment, offering discounts etc.) then try to make sure your marketing partnership leads to sales or, at the very least, to generating warm leads, for you.  

And it should be easy (and fun!) to work with them. Don’t forget one of the best things about having your own business – the freedom to choose who you work with. Don’t compromise on that with your marketing strategy. 

And remember, it really is ok to change your mind. If the partnership is not working for you, modify it or end it.  

You are your own boss 🙂 

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