Does your brand awareness strategy include the option of partnering with local businesses? Think about it: If your current marketing budget is stretched thin, collaborating with a complementary business might be a great way to promote your brand without sinking more dollars into the process. And with annual events like Small Business Saturday drawing more interest in local and community-based enterprises, now might be the perfect time to explore ways to partner with others to get the word out about your business!
Here's a quick look at pros and cons associated with this brand awareness strategy:
Exposure to new markets. As noted, there's the chance to save on marketing dollars when another business helps promote your goods and services. Of course, you're doing the same in exchange. But, for example, if your proposed partner's target market is significantly younger than your own, the possibilities of introducing your product to an entirely new demographic – one with extended buying power – could be worth the additional expense.
Builds community goodwill. Customers respond favorably to collaborative efforts among businesses they already enjoy and patronize. This is especially true when businesses join forces to sponsor a charitable cause that benefits this community. Pooling resources, you and your partner business can host events, publicize causes in newsletters and social media, offer your product or service as a contest prize, and so on.
A co-sponsored community event can generate enormous community goodwill and cement your brand in the minds of the community as one that gives back, rather than just exists to sell goods or services.
Money and effort can be wasted with the wrong partner. It's very important to research a potential small business collaborator ahead of time. If what they sell is too far afield from your own offerings – that is, the typical customer would see no complementary relationship whatsoever – you may not reap many benefits from the partnership. Be sure to get an idea of just how large their customer base is; if the numbers are too small, your efforts again might not make sense.
Both sides of the partnership must put forth a genuine commitment. Sometimes, one prospective part of the collaboration is more excited about the joint effort than the other. You can tell fairly soon into the relationship if the efforts seem one-sided. For a partnership to work, both sides must participate enthusiastically and share the desire to come up with imaginative new ways to co-market your respective products and boost brand awareness. Without that commitment, the results will be disappointing.
If, after weighing advantages and disadvantages, collaboration seems like a good idea, keep these additional tips in mind:
Seek out businesses in your network. There's no reason you have to go into a collaboration cold. Look first at small businesses in your professional network and sound out owners you already know and like. This approach often feels more "natural," and the mutual benefits are clear-cut, thus encouraging greater participation on each side.
Implement a customer referral program. Customers who come to your business as a result of cross-promotional efforts should be honored for doing so. Implement a referral program whereby customers referred to your business by your new partner enjoy a special coupon or discount code on your products, and vice versa. This can build more excitement among the respective customer bases, and keep the momentum going.
Partnering with a local small business offers many attractive benefits, as long as each side works to achieve agreed-upon goals. When the effort is successful, your business can see a boost in brand awareness that's virtually impossible to replicate in other ways.