Growing through partnership-dlvr.itIf you are like most small business owners, it can be a challenge to grow your business with little to no marketing budget. A technique we have found to be successful is to partner with companies that have a similar audience demographic and ones where their audience could benefit from the service. In many cases, the partnership may simply be an email promotion to our respective audiences.

Forming partnerships to grow a small business takes a bit of creativity and time. We’ve outlined steps below that have worked for us.

How to Find the Perfect Match

  1. Similar Audience – Does the potential partner have a similar audience? We make an educated guess based on language used on their website and blog. If it appears to be a general match, we move on to the next question.

  2. Matching Buyers – Does the partnering company speak to a similar buyer? As much as I would like to think every company could benefit by using, we have found success when the partnering company has a similar buyer as one that would purchase For example, if the SMB buyer we are partnering with is responsible for social media, a marketing department or a founder, etc. vs. HR or IT professional, the partnership will be more successful.

Exclusive Offer Required

  1. Small Test – We agree to a set number of emails to send to our respective audiences as a test. This usually ranges from 1,000 to 10,000 emails. We never exchange email addresses but rather take our partner’s creative and send it to our opt-in list and vice versa. If the test is successful, we agree to send it to our wider respective customer bases. It’s important that both parties have an audience size that is scalable.

  2. Landing Page – When it makes sense, we create a specific landing page for the promotion. We want to make the promotion as relevant to the partner as possible.

  3. Special Offer – We typically ask the partnering company to provide an exclusive offer to our audience – something they cannot get by going direct to the partner’s website. It’s important that our customers understand we only email them when we have something of value to share.

Determine Success Upfront

  1. Measuring Success – It’s important to discuss success metrics up front to determine if the initial test warrants expanded distribution. We don’t necessarily look for a home run out of the gate but we want to see an interest. Depending on the partner, we might be looking for open rate, CTR, sales, newsletter sign-ups, etc. The benefit has to be mutual if we are to move forward.

  2. Expanded Distribution – When our metrics are met and if we determine it makes sense for both parties, we extend the promotion to our entire opt-in list in small batches. This helps us test messaging and improve open rates.

The focus of the partnership is typically the stand-alone email.  We have done smaller 1-2 sentence promotions in our newsletter or auto-responders. Guest blog posts are another benefit if the promotion goes well.

Finding the right partner is fundamental to the success of a partnership. It’s important for us to spend the time upfront to determine who we want to work with. We look for quality vs. quantity because we value our customer’s time. The three key things we look for in a partnership are the right audience, scalability and exclusive offer.