Co-marketing partnerships—in which businesses both large and small combine forces in order to increase awareness about each establishment’s offerings—are "a great strategy if you can get them right," says Ron Kunitzky, founder of Toronto’s Geyser Marketing Group.
After all, he adds, "they’re cost-effective, they’re measurable, and they can be an easy way for a small business to gain access to a new group of customers. So, there’s a lot of benefit to them, but you’ve got to get them right and you’ve got to work with the right people." (See Part 1 of this series.)
How should you go about finding such people? Kunitzky, Jeanne Rossomme, CEO of RoadMap Marketing in Kensington, Maryland, and Chicago-based author and business coach Marla Tabaka, offer these suggestions:
1. Do your due diligence.
"You have to take a good look at [a potential co-marketing partner’s] business before you sign on the dotted line," Kunitzky advises. "How do they communicate with their customers? How do they sell their products? How do they manage those processes?"
The reason this kind of due diligence is so important, according to Kunitzky: "It’s more likely that things will go wrong than right with this particular marketing discipline—and that’s because you’re often relying on someone else to get your message to their customers. Given that, you’ve got to make sure you’re partnering with someone who is committed and who has the resources to make things happen on their end."
Stay away from people who market in a way
that does not meet your values and guidelines
2. Approach people you can trust.
Because they will be representing you and your business, it’s vital that you trust and respect any co-marketing partners, says Tabaka.
Following potential collaborators via social media and adding your name to their e-mail lists are good ways to see how they interact with others. "Do they have raving fans? Do they provide great customer service right out in the open via social? These are good signs of a well-run organization" and of a potentially worthwhile marketing ally, she adds.
3. It’s OK if you’re competitors.
Although Kunitzky says that relevance and being both timely and complementary "are best practices to follow when it comes to partnering with another business in this way... I’ve seen competitors partner with each other, too."
For instance, two companies in the same category and that provide similar products or services "could come together and refer each other in certain ways or circumstances," he adds, such as if one store currently doesn’t sell online while the other does.
4. Make sure the collaboration is mutually beneficial.
So goes the advice of Rossomme, who says small business owners should "look for partners that are hungry, can bring complementary skills and prospect lists [to the relationship] and can gain a lot from the project, too."
Adds Kunitzky: "If it’s not going to have a big impact on the other business’s objectives, or it’s not going to have a big impact on yours, chances are it won’t go very far."
5. Think about your customers.
That’s another of Tabaka’s suggestions. Specifically, she says you should begin by asking yourself: "What other products or services do they want or need? What will add value to their experience of interacting with you? Now think about who offers those opportunities and select a few people to approach based on your clients’ needs."