Marketing will bring you through tough economic times. We’ve gone over that in earlier issues of this newsletter, and I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten that point across! There are other things that can help you weather the economic storm as well, and one of those things is Strategic Alliances.
What exactly is a strategic alliance?
Wikipedia says that “A Strategic Alliance is a formal relationship between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon goals or to meet a critical business need while remaining independent organizations.”
Simply stated, that means to team up with someone whose product or service complements yours and build up both companies with the combined effort.
One way that you could benefit from a strategic alliance is called cross-promotion. For example, a dental office gives its cosmetic services patients a special discount for services at a local day spa. In return, the day spa refers its patrons to the dentist for cosmetic treatments. Cross-promoting cosmetic dental services with a local day spa will increase the reach of both offices and increase the number of appointments for each one.
Another great way to take advantage of an alliance is called supplier co-op. Talk to your suppliers and see what type of support you can arrange. Many times, your suppliers are more well-known than you are and you can use a co-op to get noticed. This was the case with my company. Even though we have been around for 10 years, are an industry leader and market more than most, we are not nearly as well-known as our biggest supplier, the US Postal Service! So what did I do? I approached the US Postal Service with the idea of having some joint seminars to show people how to grow their business using direct mail.
How does it benefit us both? It benefits PostcardMania because we get the recognition of the US Postal service logo, and I get to speak to many potential customers about the benefits of direct mail (when it is done correctly).
It benefits the US Postal Service because they know that the more people I educate about the benefits of direct mail, the more people will actually use their service. Every person I make my customer, by definition, also becomes their customer.
There is also one other benefit in this situation: the benefit to the public. Since the US Postal Service is sponsoring these events and picking up part of the tab, whole auditoriums full of business owners get to see me speak for far less than I would usually have to charge! The first one is here in the Tampa Bay area (click here for details on the seminar), but if it goes well, I may be coming to your area soon!
The point is, you should be looking at your supply chain, or at complementary services where you may be able to work out an alliance of your own. It could be the thing that really keeps you ahead of the competition in these tough times!
As usual, if you have any questions or comments, you can email me here. And to see this premise in action — and some invaluable marketing knowledge in the process — come to my seminar on November 6th!