A Match Made in Minutes

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Consider Bringing a Partner On Board

Owning and operating a small business can be a lonely and overwhelming proposition.  Sometimes, you just wish you had some additional resource you could rely upon.  If you have ever found yourself in this position, perhaps you should consider enlisting the assistance of a strategic partner – the topic of this newest 10-minute brand building tip.

Such a relationship can but does not have to involve any kind of formal legal arrangement.  Rather, you are looking to pair with another business that – like you – is hoping to gain a certain marketplace advantage.

Identifying a Potential Prospect

Some combinations seem to have a natural synergy – like the way peanut butter pairs with jelly or marshmallows with chocolate bars and graham crackers.  When considering prospects, ask yourself what other product or service might be acquired to better take full advantage of the characteristics of yours. 

For instance . . .

If your business is to share advice about branding, you might consider forming a strategic partnership with a designer who produces branded stationary, business cards, etc.  If you are a farmer with apple orchards specializing in the production of cider, perhaps your ideal strategic partner would be a grocery store or farmer’s market that uses seasonal campaigns (such as fall, Thanksgiving, Halloween) to promote sales.

Basically, think of a business that could benefit from your product while, in turn, enhancing yours.  That said, you will want to consider issues such as goals for growth, culture, values, attitude toward service, and history of success to ensure the optimum likelihood of a good match.

Potential Benefits of a Strategic Partnership

Many exist . . . but I will concentrate on three for the purposes of this piece.

Cut Costs

One role of well-matched strategic partners is the ability to run joint sales and advertising campaigns, which has the potential to substantially reduce the expense of both parties by splitting costs while also allowing everyone to take advantage of economies of scale.  Better deals can sometimes be available to companies willing and/or able to spend more, which can be accomplished through a partner while your own original investment remains the same.  Any activity targeting large numbers of prospects falls into this category (direct mail/e-mail campaigns, sales events, etc.)

Increase Your Audience

You have your own list of customers as well as a data base of prospects.  More than likely, your strategic partner does as well.  Combining these lists for activities such as direct mailings or even telemarketing campaigns substantially increases your pool of highly qualified prospects.  If you’ve chosen your strategic partner well, their customers should be very interested in your products/services and more likely than your average cold contact to ultimately become your customer as well.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you already share some of the same customers and that letting them know about your strategic partnership can only strengthen their loyalties to both of you, which suggests a joint loyalty program might be very successful.

Remember, strategic partners are not your direct competitors.  Rather, these companies are ones that complement your main focus . . . so sharing of customer data is reasonable.

Enhance Your Product

Even the best products can always become a bit better . . . but you just lack the resources to pursue such development.  By choosing your partner wisely, you can make your product better by being able to offer additional qualities brought to the table by your partner.   (Once peanut butter found jelly, that partnership created a new enhanced offering called PB&Js . . . and the rest is history!!)

In the case of a branding blog, we try to explain some of the characteristics that create an effective brand, we can even provide instruction for building certain basic tools like logos.  However, a partnership might allow us to highlight certain vendors who are able to supply finished products for items like brochures (helping those readers who prefer not to take the DIY approach).

Your 10-Minute Branding Assignment

Identify a company offering a product/service that complements yours.  Visit their web site to get a sense of their audience and approach to sales.  Determine whether the prospect has been involved in a coordinated effort with another business (perhaps even one of your direct competitors).  Track down the names and contact information of people within the operation who might be the best ones to approach about possible partnerships.  (The “About” page of the candidate’s web site can sometimes yield this information.)

While your 10-minute task for the day is done once you’ve completed this assignment, another day your mission will be to make a preliminary contact.  This process can be repeated as many times as necessary to move forward.  The potential benefits will easily justify the effort.

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