By Dick Wooden on May 26, 2011 at 7:30 AM
In an earlier post, I spoke about how to begin to grow a network of your strategic partners. Let’s recap with these two important points:
First, strategic partners have the same ideal customers. Examples would be graphic artists and copy writers, or lawyers and accountants.
Second: Your inviolable filter for strategic partners needs to be “Would I feel 100 percent confident referring my best customer to this business?
Once you’ve identified who your strategic partners are, it’s time to figure out the best ways to get introduced to referred customers. John Jantsch, marketing and digital technology coach and author of The Referral Engine, recommends providing valuable information to build trust in your brand.
- Tip sheets and reports: We’ve recommended here before that you create tip sheets and reports or white papers that show customers the value you offer. What if you make one of those available to your strategic partners for their customers? You could even consider co-branding it – put both your names and logos on it for this use. Your partner businesses will love this because it’s easy and it increases the value they are providing as well.
- Workshops. What do you know that you can present to others to help them be successful? Can you take one of your tip sheets or reports and expand it into a workshop? Offer to provide it to your strategic partners’ customers. It will give them a chance to see you in action and ask questions face-to-face.
- Combined workshops. Take this concept a step further and collaborate with strategic partners to present a workshop together. You each get to shine as an expert in your field, and your clients are exposed to a value package.
- Cocreate content. What if you recorded interviews with strategic partners in which you asked questions and they answered with solutions to problems your customers routinely face? Each one wouldn’t have to be very long at all, but in the end you’d have a library of valuable information that you could share online. Or you could mine it for ideas for the workshops above. And you would confirm to your partners that you were intent on highlighting their businesses’ value.
What if another business is not directly a strategic partner – your ideal customers aren’t actually the same but overlap? Keep thinking creatively, and possibilities for joint marketing will surface. Think samples or free trials of each other’s solutions, to begin with. What you’re after are ways to start buzz about how your products or services make customers’ lives better.
Access the knowledge about your clients and prospects from your CRM system. Determine where your ideal clients are coming from. What lead generation processes are producting results. Understand your customer- know what they need to complete their project or objective. That knowledge can lead to referrals for your partner network. Remember "Givers - gain..."
Everyone wins: the customer, your partner network – and you.