Building connections and partnerships can be slow, daunting or difficult. Thinking creatively can help you approach collaborations differently and with an inviting offer of why you should collaborate with another business.
When strategising about how you are going to reach your ideal customers. One tactic to do this is collaborate/partner with a business or organisation that shares a similar audience and who wouldn’t be a direct competitor of yours.
This sounds ideal – but how do you approach such partners?
Sometimes simply networking and conversing with other business owners might lead to an opportunity to collaborate. However, often you might not have the right connections or businesses might be much bigger and more established.
Start by thinking about existing connections. Otherwise scour local directories, online & offline communities or research other businesses that might have similar client bases. Use functions on Instagram and social media that shows you accounts you might like to follow. This will often help you find similar businesses. If you find some good ones, use these features to find even more – as you might not get through to the business owner on the first try.
Forming a concept for collaboration
I’ve found when forming partnerships, people are generally very receptive and open to such propositions, especially when you have an intriguing idea in which its easy to see the benefit it will have for the prospective partner.
Having an idea ready for a partnership will help you build trust and demonstrate that you are serious about executing the idea. If you have previous collaborations, then just like a portfolio or testimonials, show them that you’ve worked these successfully in the past.
In order to form a concept, think about the wants and needs of your shared audience as well as the strengths of both your businesses. How can these be combined?
- Local opportunities – are you both local? Could you have a joint event or save on advertising by posting joint ads?
- Collaborate with your suppliers – use their ingredients or create a recipe card together that you can both promote
- Thematic – “Cakes for coders” – collaborate with a software company to provide cookies shaped like coding symbols to their offices or clients as treat boxes
- Seasonal bundles – create a bundle, hamper or gift box, such as a Christmas gift box where several businesses contribute 1 item and you can all promote
- Chocolate advent calendars with some advertising included to other businesses
- Working with an illustrator to produce an exclusive iced biscuit or packaging design
- Combining food products – such as a chocolatier and a brownie business
- Charity collaborations
Adding details about timeframes and delivering on your promises will help you build trust rapport and a longer-term partnership.
See what platforms this business is active on, to decide the best method of contacting them. An Instagram DM might work, but if not, as they might not check their DMs, shoot them an email or give them a call. You might even be able to meet them in person. When going to markets and events, it can be a good opportunity to network with other stallholders and talk about your proposition there.
Once you’ve scored one. Don’t over-commit to too many collaborations at once. Quality over quantity! Try and make your first a success, which will give you the confidence to approach and propose other partnerships with your existing connections or new ones. Now you also have an example to show, and a testimonial if it all went well.
- Building longer-term partnerships can lead to more opportunities:
- Beginning a referral scheme
- Stock each other’s products as add-ons
- Promote each other to your audiences consistently
- Include an advert for each other’s business in the packaging of your orders
- Create exclusive products or bundles