Marketing a small business doesn’t have to be such a chore. There are fun ways to do such things. Here is part two of “Leveraging Partnerships to Promote Your Small Business.”
Part one is here.
The Process of Elimination
Since all of these partners can’t be pursued all at one time, choose which of these will be the best fit. For the first time, engage the other side of the brain and look for reasons to rule out choices—at least for now. Our hypothetical restaurant owner’s train of thought might run like this:
Performing Musicians—I don’t know any performing musicians personally.
Food Service Companies—The companies we do business with are too big to bother with partnering with an independent restaurant such as ours.
Politicians—I don’t want to offend my customers—or any potential customers—who support the other side.
Hospitals—Our restaurant serves too many fatty meals right now, perhaps a possibility after some menu additions.
Not Enough Time?
I think I know what you’re thinking. Who has time to do all this work and still run my business? Well guess what? That’s why there are employees. I will bet that one of them would love to handle this project. It would be a lot of fun for them, and if involving a whole team, it will be a fun team project that can build camaraderie. They may even volunteer to work after hours on it because it’s fun. Talk to a key employee about this and run the idea by them. See what they think.
Now back to the topic at hand…
Look for Possibilities
Go through all of the negatives for each choice. Think, “Which of these objections are surmountable? How can I overcome these roadblocks?” Those potential partners that remain after this step will become prospects.
Our restaurant owner, for example, may not want to chance offending customers by partnering with a politician, nor want to spend the time to court a huge food service companies. Yet he realizes that his cousin Jimmy is a big fan of a jazz band. He knows one of the guys in the band personally. He does some Internet research, and discovers that the band has a huge following on YouTube and Facebook.
As he thinks about his menu, he decides that now might be a good time to introduce some healthy choices on the menu. He brainstorms some ideas, and decides to give his customer, a doctor who practices at one of the local hospitals, a call to see if his ideas would make good sense, nutrition-wise.
Time to Connect
After having eliminated all but the very best possibilities, it is time to connect with the potential partners. Treat the meeting as a job interview. Research the background of each potential partner, and then figure out the best person with whom to connect, if there is not someone already in mind. Jot down some notes to remember to highlight the benefits to each potential partner during the conversation. Then make appointments with as many prospects as possible.
Prepare for the Meeting
Prospects will want to know what kinds of joint promotional ventures you want to propose. They will also want to know the approximate cost of each idea. Do plenty of background information on various advertising schemes. Make sure that the promotional materials that is chosen will be beneficial for both parties. For instance, if our hypothetical restaurant owner wanted to partner with a group of musicians, custom printed t-shirts with his company logo and the name of the band might be a perfect choice. If, however, he worked out a partnership with a hospital, a printed brochure with photos of the new menu choices, along with a printout of the nutritional value of each—and some tips for good nutrition from the hospital’s dietary staff—might prove to be a winner.
After the First Meeting, Plan
If all goes well, there will be a plan that will help both businesses. Make sure that each partner knows his or her responsibilities—who makes the arrangements for each part of the event. Meet with the partner often—either online or in person—to go over the plans. As the event gets closer, check and double-check the arrangements to make sure that everything is set.
Consult the Silent Partner
If chosen wisely, the custom printing company that will print the promotional materials may prove to be a great resource for promotional advice. Chances are, they have helped conduct more promotional events than both you and the partner ever have. Take advantage of their experience to help make the promotional event a success.
After the Event, Keep Connected
Meet with the corporate partner to rehash how the promotional event went—what went right, and what could be done better next time. Keep in touch. Even if there is no other promotional event created together, there has been a valuable connection made in the community.