As little biz builders we tend to avoid interacting with the competition; they are the competition after all. You want to keep your clients, your products, and your strategies to yourself! We tend to ignore most of what other businesses are doing; we have enough to do on our own without wasting time on people who aren’t paying customers. We tend to be intimidated by people who have been around the block for a while; those businesses seem so much more established and successful than ours.
Aside from interacting with a few supporters, we tend to work on our businesses in isolation, on our own from our kitchen tables.
This is a mistake! in doing so we are missing out on a fabulous, and inexpensive marketing strategy: building relationships with other businesses.
Types of business builders you should seek out:
- complementary businesses – ones that offer a product or service that is complementary to yours and/or that have the same target (ideal customer) as you do
- competitors – ones that offer a product or service that is similar to yours, though they may have a different target, a different brand message, a different location etc.
- niche peers – ones that have similar sized businesses to yours, who are trying to reach a similar target, but who sell a product that is only loosely linked to yours, creating a general ‘category’ of businesses
Once you have found some appropriate business owners to connect with, what can you do to create mutually beneficial business relationships?
Examples of business relationships:
- trade ad space, product reviews, blog comments, blog posts, newsletter tidbits
- find a product that fits with your service (or vice versa) and create a package deal or a way of referring your customers to each other
- find products and services that also meet your target’s needs, become a referrer or an affiliate for these businesses
- work with another biz owner to create new packages of products & services to meet your target’s needs
- co-create a special product or service, something that you both can sell
- refer clients to a competitor that offers something that you don’t or cannot do, goodwill and strong relationships generally result in referrals back to you as well
- if your biz is location dependant find competitors in locations you cannot service and pair up with them to market your businesses, build referrals etc.
- join with a number of related business to create a collective based on geography, target, niche category etc. pool resources to market all of your businesses at once
- create a showcase site for a variety of businesses in a niche or industry, work together to market your businesses
- build mentor/mentoree relationships where you share knowledge and information, these often lead to referrals, partnerships and alliances down the road
Tips to help you build relationships:
- these need to be mutually beneficial, win-win scenarios. All members of the relationship need to get something valuable out of it
- it tends to work best if you find like-minded people who you genuinely like to interact with. Don’t force something that doesn’t feel ‘right’, it probably won’t work out.
- it tends to work best if you find people who have similar sized businesses, or are at the same stage of business (one person doesn’t want to feel like they are bringing the majority of customers to the table. That is not very win-win)
- have professional pitch ready to send to business owners that you would like to partner with
- have a professional agreement with your partner, no matter how friendly you are with one another
- genuinely connect and interact with other business owners – partnerships will often develop naturally as you chat and share and support one another
There are an infinite number of ways we can work together with other business owners to market our businesses and sell our things. Alone, we are pretty remarkable women. Together we are unstoppable! So put yourself out there right now and start seeking out other biz builders to connect with.
Karen Gunton from build a little biz is a blogger, teacher, and creative designer. Her passions are helping women in business get unstuck and brainstorming awesome ideas for little businesses. Karen also teaches product marketing and customer engagement through DIY visual branding techniques. Click here to visit build a little biz.