Marketing Partnerships: A Cost Effective Selling Strategy

By: Thomas Young

Partnerships and alliances have long been used as an effective means to market products and services. Customers generally require a variety of services, and no one company can provide it all. Some make the attempt and frequently find it to be a difficult proposition. Customers understand this and are open to working with more than one company because they understand they are getting experts in each area. Here are a few ideas on how to partner effectively with other companies and grow your sales in the process.

A Definition of Partnering

Let’s start with a definition of marketing partnerships. It can be defined as: working in collaboration with another organization to mutually benefit each other by leveraging exposure to the client base of each business. This happens by filling a niche your partner does not. For example, a landscape architect may partner with a custom deck builder, a graphics design professional will partner with a copy writer, a real estate agent partners with a lender, a car salesman partners with a body repair shop and the list goes on and on. Partnering is not networking, but rather working together to meet the needs of common customers. Partners refer business to each other and often work together on a project.

How to Select a Partner?

This is the biggest challenge. There is nothing more critical then selecting the proper partner. Begin by identifying the types of companies or industries that deal with your target market or customer base. Determine exactly what you can offer, that your potential partner does not offer, and that customers are requesting. Meet either the principles in the company and get an idea of how they conduct business and marketing in general. If your principles and philosophies match, you may have found an opportunity to work together.

Partnering is about Trust

As in any relationship, your partnership is only as good as the trust that keeps it together. Think of trust as the glue that binds the partnership. If you do not trust a partner, don’t work with them. Communication and honesty are critical to effective partnerships as they build trust. Be very open and upfront in your initial work with a partner and have clear standards and operational expectations. Do things for your partner to build trust. Trust is like a bank account, you can only draw on what is in the account. Many partnerships fail because trust is not present.

Partnering involves a give and take of resources. In order to build trust, give until it hurts. This shows your partner that you are committed to them and it builds trust. The best partnerships will involve a give and take from both sides

It Does not Have to be Official

Unless you are actually exchanging money in a transaction, there does not have to be formal contracts or legally binding agreements. Many of the best partnerships and alliances were formed on a handshake because they mostly deal with customer referrals. When money does exchange hands for products and services, it is a good idea to have something in writing; that’s just good business.

Developing the right marketing partnerships can literally build a business. Everyone is rewarded as you work with other companies to add value to their customers. Include partnering in your marketing plan and work towards developing mutually beneficial relationships with other companies.

Tom Young, MBA is president of Intuitive Websites, a sales training and marketing consulting firm helping companies increase revenues. He can be reached at 719-481-4040, or email at  [email protected]. For more articles like this one, visit his web site