One of the best ways to maximise not just your marketing efforts but your business in general is to collaborate with someone. Now, I don’t mean go out there and grab the first business owner you meet…there needs to be good reason for you to join forces with a fellow entrepreneur.
One of the main reasons why most people collaborate is so that you can each utilise the other’s audience. For example, you may have 1000 connections on LinkedIn and your potential partner may have 2000 connections on there; by collaborating, you’ll both have access to around 3000 connections—therefore tripling your original audience.
However, there’s no point collaborating with somebody, no matter the size of their audience, if they don’t appeal to the same target market as you do. At the other end of the scale, it’s also rare that two companies that offer the same thing collaborate on a project, as they will typically see each other as direct competitors. You should aim to collaborate with someone who is not a clear rival, but someone who complements what you offer.
Imagine a business selling CCTV cameras and other security equipment aiming their marketing efforts towards other business owners aged 45-55, who would like to reduce the risks in their company. A perfect collaboration for the security guys would be to team up with an IT company that specialises in cyber security. The first company would therefore deal with the physical security of the client’s office and protect it from theft/break-ins, light-fingered staff, etc. whilst the second company will prevent hackers from accessing confidential information. Both achieve the same outcome, i.e. reducing the customer’s risk, but in different ways. It’s also common for the client in question to need both internal and external security at the same time.
Think about the types of companies that aim at the same target market as you, but which are not direct competitors. Now, think of companies that you know within this category and you have your first potential collaborators.
Even though you may target the same market(s), is that enough to convince someone to enter into a joint venture with you? Will they be happy to roll over and share their assets with you on this basis alone?
You may have to prove why you think you would be a good fit for each other, above and beyond your products/services. Why them? Do they align with your values? Do you like the way they work? What will the logistics be?
What will your collaboration look like? Will it just be as simple as promoting each other online and offline if the opportunity arose, or will it be something more in depth than this? Maybe you could create a package that combines both of your services, which can then be sold to your target market as an all-in-one solution. Maybe you could co-host an event to help attract new potential customers to come and meet you both. Perhaps you may agree to combine your marketing assets and budgets.
Whatever the reason(s), make sure you’re both on the same page, and that—most importantly—you will both get something out of the collaboration and your joint efforts will warrant the outcome. For example, it won’t work long-term if the company with the larger audience and which is more established does 90% of the work whilst the company with the tiny audience does just 10% of the work. That’s not a partnership, that’s taking advantage.
Once you’ve agreed on the purpose behind your collaboration, agree timescales and milestones. We’re all incredibly busy, and even with the best intentions in the world, without targets, the collaboration will keep getting pushed back.
When planned and structured correctly, a collaboration can be one of the greatest marketing tools you could ever employ. As a business, we collaborate with other companies all the time. We also encourage our clients to collaborate with each other and often recommend other businesses to them from our network.
This is just one of the many useful tools and techniques we will be disclosing during our upcoming marketing masterclasses, all of which will help you to grow your business. It will represent one of the best investments you could make in you and your company.
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