By Aladin El Hedri
If you’re an SMB, you might not have the massive budget and manpower needed to scale your business quickly. But what you do have is entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to pair up with cross-promotional partners who can instantly connect you with a new audience of potential customers.
Partnering with the right companies can help boost sales, increase awareness about your business, and provide you with more prospects—at an accelerated pace that you probably would not be able to do on your own. And all you have to do in return is offer something of value to your partner.
Of course, finding the right cross-marketing partner does take some effort. You want to associate yourself with a business that shares similar philosophies, values, and most important, the right target audience. Then, to really make the partnership thrive, you’ll want to come up with a game plan so that you both will benefit from the relationship.
Follow these four steps to find and cultivate the perfect cross-promotional partners:
1. Identify your goals
While your ultimate goal when choosing a partner is to find one that can help boost your bottom line, there’s more to it than that. Think about what your business really needs to grow right now, and focus your efforts on filling in that gap. Some possibilities include:
Brand awareness—Would you like more people to discover your company, to increase your mailing list, and to bulk up your social media followers? Finding a partner with a like-minded audience that offers complementary services to what you provide is a smart way to help people get to know your brand.
Sales—What SMB couldn’t use more sales, right? The right partner might be able to bundle your product with theirs, or share advertising or event space to help trim costs.
Lead generation—If you’re just looking for more prospects, online affiliate partners within your industry can leverage their networks to collect contact information for you so that you can reach out directly with your pitch.
2. Know your target audience
Are you trying to reach out to more people in your main target demographic, or are you looking to expand to other groups? The first thing you need to figure out is who you want to do business with, whether it’s other small businesses, young professionals, homeowners, etc. Depending on your core product/service, it can get even more granular. You might want to connect with mid-level human resources professionals, IT department heads, education providers, or retail store owners.
The key is to really think through the type of customers you want to attract so you can move on to the next step—finding potential partners who can help.
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3. Check if a possible partner shares your goals and target audience
While the first two steps were about assessing your own big picture goals and audience wish list, this step takes you outside your comfort zone. You don’t want to rush through researching and vetting potential partners since you don’t want to choose foolishly.
Start by having conversations with your customers to see which other vendors they work with. You can also join local small business associations to connect with others in your area to see if there are mutually beneficial ways you might work together. For online-based partnerships, you can try using social media platforms and tech tools that can help you identify cross-marketing partners based on the criteria and attributes of your choosing.
Once you have a short list, you can begin reaching out to see which businesses are most receptive to your offer to partner up. Don’t forget that you’ll need to bring something of value to the table as well to give them the incentive to move forward.
4. Build a partnership strategy
Now that you’ve found partners who are willing to work with you, you should start discussing a more formal partnership, especially if money will be exchanged. Depending on the intricacies, you might want to draw up a formal contract, or at least a document that maps out who is responsible for what.
Some partnership agreements include things like CPL (cost per lead) or CPC (cost per click) agreements, whereby you may pay one another a set amount for each lead or click that is generated via a partner’s content. Perhaps you might collaborate on a newsletter, combining your mailing lists and dividing the content creation responsibilities. Or, more simply, you might agree to provide each other a bit of retail space in your respective locations.
No matter what the partnership involves, it’s always a good idea to strategize together and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Cross-promotional partnerships can be very powerful for driving new business and the ROI potential is huge if it’s done right. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to finding the best partners for your business needs.
RELATED: 12 Ways to Evaluate If a Potential Business Partnership Will Be Lucrative
About the Author
Post by: Aladin El Hedri
Aladin El Hedri is the CEO of Bridget , a B2B platform that connects companies based on their target client profiles. This allows businesses to launch powerful, co-marketing operations. He is also CEO of Siberian, an open-source CMS for creating cross-platform mobile apps. Aladin began his career in 2003 as CMO and partner of the French, private sales e-commerce firm Vente-du-diable.com, a world-leader in the sale of remanufacturing products, with more than $40M in turnover.
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