August 1, 2003 Issue #13


  • MARKETING: Collaborate to stretch your marketing reach & budget
  • 3 simple things to do for your business this month
  • GOOD LINKS: World Factbook
  • Write to us / pass it along / article reprints

MARKETING: Collaborate to stretch your marketing reach & budget

Many years ago, I knew a fellow who made quite a good living selling law books and he rarely worked more than a day or two each week.

He became quite well-known for his Wednesday Special. If he showed up at your office on a Wednesday and you bought from him then and there, he would give you a bag of chocolate bars and two tickets to the local burlesque house. He bought the candy wholesale and got the tickets at a discount. He sold lots of books and the burlesque house filled a few more seats.

The burlesque house was torn down years ago. Besides, this particular marketing promotion certainly would not be as well accepted in today's world. However, the concept is still quite valid - forming an alliance for mutual promotion. More of us could benefit from the original and sometimes playful promotion that can come from developing relationships with businesses that are, well, unexpected.

Collaborating for mutual benefit can help open new markets, make you stand out from the crowd, help you get more from your marketing budget, and sometimes add value to your product or service thereby rewarding the customer for doing business with you. Big businesses do this kind of collaborating routinely. Most smaller businesses do, too but often fail to take advantage of the marketing potential. Developing these relationships also can breathe new energy into your marketing because they often make business more fun.

Successful collaborations or associations are win-win-win situations. You win. Your marketing partner wins. The customer wins. Let's take a look at few different kinds of alliances that can be useful.

Alliances with complementary businesses - those offering products or services that "go with" your product or service. These alliances can help you extend your capabilities to allow you to take on bigger or more complex jobs. Sometimes they will also help give you a foot-in-the-door with new prospects - you bring your marketing partner into jobs with your clients or customers and your partner brings you in on jobs with their clients.

  • Example: A psychologist who teaches meditative relaxation techniques teams up with a massage therapist to offer workplace stress reduction programs to employers for their employees.
Partnerships with businesses serving individuals or companies with similar buying profiles or characteristics. These businesses might be complementary or totally different from your type of business. This kind of collaboration can allow you to offer "packages" of products or services and to participate in co-operative advertising and other shared marketing (reduce expense/spend less & get more).
  • Example: A fine restaurant or jeweler might collaborate on offering a very deep discount for the executive clients of a business consultant. While very different, both businesses market to higher income prospects. The consultant provides the discount as a "thank you " for business while the restaurant or jeweler gets new customers who are likely to be repeat buyers.
Collaborations with suppliers. Suppliers often will have programs already in place. Check this out with your own suppliers. Often you will find cooperative advertising where the supplier will pay for a portion of advertising costs. Collateral materials such as brochures are often available from suppliers. (Be sure to mark them with your own business identity in some way.) Suppliers will sometimes make marketing research available to you or help you in penetrating new markets. If your suppliers do not have programs in place, don't hesitate to propose one.
  • Example: A local floor covering store uses advertising layouts prepared by a carpet manufacturer and the carpet manufacturer pays for a percentage of the ads run in the store's local newspaper.

Alliances with businesses that are totally different from yours. Some creativity and a good look at your customer's needs (and desires) will help with this one. The book salesman who partnered with the burlesque house did exactly that. The only rule here is to create the win-win-win situation.

  • Example: A coffee shop provides free thermoses of hot coffee or cocoa to the drivers of an auto towing company. The driver can offer a free cup of hot brew to a shivering motorist stranded in the cold winter snow along with a coupon - saying that the beverage is "with our compliments" for redemption at the coffee shop. The towing company adds a touch of class to it's operation - making it stand out from the crowd - and the coffee shop gets new customers.

Affiliate programs to enhance your internet offerings. There are probably thousands of these programs available. Basically, if someone has a product or service, they allow you to offer it to your customers and you get a percentage of the sale price. This is a good way to expand your offerings and complete your product line without having to develop your own products. (If you want to know more about how to make money with affiliate programs, e-mail for your FREE Affiliate Masters Course.)

  • Example: On Business Odyssey's web page, you will find offerings of books that are useful to small business owners. We have an affiliate arrangement with Amazon who pays us a small percentage of any purchase made through http:/ We can use Amazon's marketing tools and provide the convenience of direct links to the appropriate Amazon page for the books featured. Our web site visitors are extended all of the discounts and services offered by Amazon.

Have some fun and revitalize your own marketing program by taking some time to brainstorm creative ways to use collaborative alliances.

3 simple things to do for your business this month

1. Do a mid-year assessment. While you should be examining your actual performance against your business plan on a monthly basis, mid year is a good time to look at the larger goals that you have set to see if you are on track. Are you on target to get the number of new clients/customers that you had planned on? What progress has been made on that new web site? Have you scouted around for the larger quarters that your business will need? If you are not on track, what has changed? What roadblocks have arisen? How will you deal with them? Make modifications in your plan accordingly then forge ahead!

2. Have a one-hour brainstorming session. Set aside a time for a free-flowing discussion about new markets, solving a problem or repackaging your products in a more creative and market responsive way. Let everyone have a say and don't dismiss any ideas as too strange, silly or impractical. The goofy stuff often inspires the best ideas. Have some fun with it. You'll be pleased with the great ideas that come out of such a session. Use it to problem solve or as a starting point for next year's business plan. Everyone who participates will feel energized by the experience.

3. Purge your desk files. Staying organized helps you work better and more efficiently. By one estimate, we spend about one year of our lives just looking for things. Take half an hour and get rid of old papers or files that clutter both your desk top and drawers.

GOOD LINKS: World Factbook

If you are planning a trip to Antarctica or planning to expand your market into Botswana, a great source of information is the World Factbook which can be found on the web sit for the Central Intelligence Agency. That's right. The CIA has a web site that is loaded with information that ordinary citizens like you and I might find useful.

You can find the World Factbook at http:/ Go to the bottom of the lower left hand column and you will find the Factbook under "Library & Reference."

Click on a country and you will find maps and a brief giving information about geography, government, the economy, communications, transportation, the military and transnational issues for that country. You will also find information on the average age, life expectancy, currency, number of televisions, and other fascinating tidbits.

This is a really easy way to start a market research project on that new foreign market you want to explore or to get the lay of the land before your next trip.

Write to us; pass it along; reprint articles

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Copyright 2003 Kathleen Thompson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Business Odyssey

Cleveland, Ohio