The second step in growing your business is to expand your product range and distribution network by forming strategic alliances with businesses that have a similar customer profile to your own.
As Bill Gates famously said:
Our success has really been based on partnerships from the beginning.
Microsoft’s bundling of software with computers using licensing agreements has to go down as one of the greatest marketing ideas of all time. Instead of trying to sell software packages one at a time as a stand-alone product, Microsoft’s DOS and then Windows operating systems became a mandatory with every PC sold anywhere by anyone…
And John Paul Getty is famous for this quote:
I’d rather have one percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts.
Of course you may never be able to match the astounding results achieved by Gates or Getty, you can quickly increase your flow of sales and leads by partnering with other businesses that sell products and services your customers are already looking for and buying.
Watch this 60 second overview of the strategy before you continue:
Let’s look at an example.
Say you own a Printing business and you’d like to grow without spending a lot of money on marketing or advertising.
There are dozens of different products and services your customers would be interested in buying if they could see the benefit to their business, so why not let them buy through you?
Here’s a list of people our Printer could approach:
- Business Brokers
- Suppliers of Office Support Personal and Services
- Owners or Organisers of Networking Groups
- Software Suppliers and SAAS Companies
- Office Furniture and Supplies
- Companies That Supply IT To Businesses
- Companies That Provide Training of All Kinds to Businesses
- Call Centres and Telemarketing Services
- Direct Mail Companies
- Copy Machine Dealers
- Coffee Machine Suppliers
- Payroll Services
- Search Engine Optimisation Businesses
- Adwords Agencies
- Facebook Marketing Agencies
- Shipping and Freight Companies
- Tax Agents
- Website Developers
- IT Training
- Graphic Designers
- Credit Services
- Business Exit Planning Specialists
- Business Turnaround Specialists
- Insolvency Specialists
- Consultants of All Kinds
- Business Cleaners
- Business Coaches of All Kind
- Other Specialist Printers who Complement and Don’t Compete
Our theoretical Printer could contact some of the suppliers from the list above (in fact, some of their existing clients are probably on this list) and set up a referral relationship where you refer business to them, and they refer business to you.
NOTE: If you offer to sell the other business’s product or service first, they are much more likely to want to reciprocate and offer your products and services to their customers in the future.
With this in mind, you could simply send them an email like this:
Subject: Idea for your business
Hi (first name),
My name is [your name] and I’m the owner of [ your business e.g. Global Golf Products].
We have a list of around [your customer database size e.g. 1,800] paying customers. These are all people who have bought from us, not just people who have joined to receive our free newsletter.
I think a lot of our customers would also be keen to purchase your [name of product]. So I was wondering, would you like me to offer it to them on your behalf?
If you’re interested in talking about this a bit more, just let me know. You’ll find my contact information below.
Using this strategy, you should be able to find a large number of great products and services you can offer to your existing prospects and customers in return for a share of the profits.
By the same token, there are likely hundreds of businesses both within and outside of your industry who would be delighted to sell your products and services to their customers in return for a referral fee.
PRO TIP: Our Printer could create a short guide entitled How To Halve The Cost & Double The ROI Of Your Pamphlets, Flyers And Signage or something like that. Of course, this is just one example and what you say has to be achievable, but you get the idea 🙂
Freely share your best 5 – 10 insider tips, along with information people outside the printing industry would never be aware of. Add a list of the traps to watch out for and things to avoid, and you’d have a valuable guide people who purchase printed materials would love to get their hands on.
Then ask your referral partners if they’d send an email like the one below to let their customers know about your free guide:
SUBJECT: Idea for your business
Hi [first name]
Over the weekend I read an awesome guide put together by my friend [your name], and I wanted to let you know about it in case you also find it helpful.
It’s called How To Halve The Cost & Double The ROI Of Your Pamphlets, Flyers And Signage and I found it very enlightening.
If you’d like to grab a copy, it’s available free for a limited time at [link to your opt in page].
I hope you found it as helpful as I did.
Thanks again for being a loyal customer,
[your partners name]
The link in the email should take people to a dedicated page where you capture the person’s name and email address before delivering the guide to them by email.
Then you can follow up with them to promote all kinds of products and services, because they have raised their hand and indicated that they are buyers of printed products.
In other words, they are your ideal customer.
No business ever has enough sales or can stock enough products or services to completely fulfil the needs of their customers. You can help to fill their product/service pipeline and increase your own sales and profits at the same time.
What if you could cultivate a relationship with ONE business of each of the 27 types of businesses above? And what if each of those referral partners sent you just 2 referrals a year?
If the average printing order was $1,000, and you gave the referring business a 10% referral fee (or a 15% credit for their future printing needs), those 54 additional sales could quickly add up to a nice increase in turnover.
What if you could average 4 referrals per partner per year. The potential is obvious…
ACTION STEP 1: Find 10 businesses that you know have awesome products or services your customers would consider buying and send them an invitation like the one above today.
ACTION STEP 2: Use a friendly, hype free email similar to the one I shared in the previous chapter to offer your partner’s product or service to your subscribers. Then ask them to make a special offer to their customers for you. Rinse and repeat…
By finding additional products, services and distribution channels for your business, you should be able to grow your sales and your lifetime customer value while spending very little on marketing or advertising.
I’d love to hear about your results in the comments below. Feel free to share what you did and what happened as a result.
INVITATION: Each month I hold a limited number of Free Business Strategy Sessions designed to help you grow your business while enjoying the ride, while creating a plan to achieve the highest possible sale price, and the lifestyle you want to enjoy, when it’s time to exit..
Would you like to join us?
If you’d like to schedule one of these Free and obligation free one-on-one sessions, let us know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300740066 and we’ll set things up for you.
About The Author: James Huy Vuong is a CPA, Registered Tax Agent, Business Broker, Certified Exit Planner and the owner of Your Accounting Partners, an Associate of Negotia Group. Partnering with businesses from start to scale thru to sale.
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