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9 tips on creating profitable partnerships

Collaboration is unbeatable for all entrepreneurs. Here are ten tips on creating profitable partnerships.

1. Collaborate on the Internet
You already know that I think it's a crime against your business not to give your website a second chance after the “dotcomdeath” and all the technical fumbling. I would very much like to write this in big letters, but you have to imagine this message being written in huge letters instead, so listen: A good website is the best chance you have, whether you want to sell directly or indirectly on the web. A good website creates collaborations by itself.

If you don't believe me, then start removing all the info addresses and contact forms (strange inventions by of technicians) from the pages. Replace all impersonal email addresses with names of real people. Ask for contact. If you do, you will quickly notice a difference when it comes to e-mails.

2. Open a third eye
Be aware of what's happening in your world. If you read an article about a company that you would like to work with - then call them. If you go past a company you want to work with - go in and talk to them. Search collaborations as part of your everyday life.

3. Collaborate with your competitors
Look for competitors who are better than you at something that you already provide. Analyze your competitors. Are you good at smaller editions and your competitor is better at bigger - suddenly there is a basis for a partnership where you can send customers to each other.

4. Collaborate with the media
Be a resource for the media. Tell them who you are and what you can do. Sending a letter to a newspaper and telling them that you are the best in the world is wrong. Sending letters to journalists and telling you what you can do and that you would give them your knowledge when they need it, is right.

5. Collaborate with your customers
This is an interesting point. How much do you really know about your customers' goals? Do you just boldly handle the order and feel glad that you got it or do your customers know that you're actually doing your very best to take care of them?
Showing a strong interest for the customers' goals gives you a big advantage since many companies today don't seem to bother. Getting an order seems to be their one and only concern and they couldn't care less whatever happens once they've closed the deal with a customer.
• Tell your customers what's happening in the industry. Tell them about this article.
• Keep them informed of what you do for them all the time.
• If your customers leave you, they should notice that it's their loss.
Read that last sentence one again: If your customers leave you, they should notice that it's their loss.

6. Collaborate with your suppliers
Let your suppliers know your goals and encourage them to work to help you reach them. An alert provider that knows what you want will immediately see the benefits of helping you to achieve it and also see their own role clearer as your supplier.

7. Collaborate with your dealers
Have your dealer all the support they can get from you? Can you give them more? Have you asked what they lack? Pay them a visit. Start a newsletter where you tell them exciting things without trying to sell anything. Give them a human angle on your business. Give them yourself.

8. Cooperate with people you don't think of first hand
Which companies are supplementing your business? Could you cooperate in any way? Can you sell their products or can they sell yours? Can you join forces and sell your products together? Can you make a joint brochure to give customers a more complete package of something they want? Think hard and start sending emails to companies that you respect about collaborations. It's a good start.

9. Work with your neighbors
Are there any companies on your street or in the building where you work? Create a group of people and see what you can do together. Can you negotiate with good prices when you need to print new material or buy new things? Can you promote each other's products? Can you advertise in someone else's shop window? Can you make a brochure together? Can each neighbor distribute information about the others' business to their existing customers?
Networking is not just a fancy and trendy way to engage in business - it's smart and profitable in every way, not just financially, but also personally.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
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