This is a topic that is often talked about, yet still extraordinarily underutilized by most business owners. Many people have referral relationships with other businesses. They send business to each other whenever possible. However, like many of the topics discussed in this series, owners are leaving money on the table, or rather, on someone else’s table that could be staying within your own network. By proactively partnering with other businesses, you can increase your referral opportunities in both directions, and create win-win-win scenarios for you, your strategic alliance partner, and your clients.
So where do you start?
It always comes back to your target market. Who are your customers and potential customers? Where else do your customers do business (Hint: Ask them!)? Then, which of those businesses is not in direct competition with you (think… who is not going to take away from your “wallet share”?). Anyone with the same target market as you who’s product/service would not be used instead of yours is a potential strategic alliance:
- A gym and a sporting goods store,
- A jewelry store and clothing boutique,
- Or how about a Spin class and a bakery (talk about one feeding the other).
You can be as creative as you want with this! If you are able to make it a value add for your clients, they will thank you for the introduction!
How do I maximize the impact?
Familiarity creates efficiency. As with all business strategies, focus, discipline and systemization will give you the best ROI. In the professional services sphere, how often does a client have several of her advisors in a room together at the same time? That brings immense value to a client knowing that her CPA, Lawyer, Financial advisor (and Coach!), are all on the same page and working towards the same common goal. Also, when you are all familiar with how the other operates, you will save tons of time in preparing documents and sharing information with an advisor you are familiar with. The best part is that as their business grows, the need for everyone’s services grows with it. Everyone wins!
Build Meaningful Alliances
Discover businesses that have the same shared values, philosophies and culture and start working together. Cross market each other’s businesses, advertise jointly, co-sponsor an event together, and support meaningful causes that are important to both of you. The potential for synergy is fantastic here with twice the brain power, and potentially half of the marketing costs!