Generating the connections and energy required for a sustainable, healthy business can feel overwhelming. Trying to entice one person at a time into your email list or LinkedIn community makes it feel like you will never build your 1,000 true fans, let alone a flowing pipeline of interested prospects all year long.
Which is why I am so bullish about thinking about ways to build a business through connection, collaboration and partnerships.
Here are 10 ideas to expand your impact, income and opportunities through partnering with others:
- Create PB&J Referrals
The most obvious place I point my clients for referral partnerships is their Peanut Butter and Jelly partners (PB&Js). These are service professionals who offer highly complementary and non-competitive services to your clients. In my own practice, key PB&J partners are IP attorneys, web designers, marketing firms, copywriters, CPAs and SaaS companies that build the apps that power the small business market.
- Brand Collaboration
If your ideal customers are frequent consumers of products or services from a popular brand, you can explore a collaboration like a shared webinar or speaking event. I did a few collaborations with my friends at GoDaddy, such as Tiny Marketing Actions in 2020 and Stand Out by Standing With a Crowd in 2021.
- Trade Interviews
My friend George Kao does a beautiful job at executing a simple and effective marketing strategy: trading video interviews with peer collaborators. Here is an interview I did featuring George after he interviewed me about The Widest Net which he shared with his own community.
- Bundle Products
E-Commerce businesses have had great success with product bundles: putting together time-bound discount bundles that can include information products and/or software. Convertcart gives some detailed advice on how to do this here.
- Co-Lead an Event
For three years, I partnered with my friend Charlie Gilkey, CEO of Productive Flourishing to do a 4 day entrepreneur retreat called Lift Off. We delivered it twice a year and had both tremendous fun with and deep impact on the entrepreneurs we worked with. This collaboration helped us sharpen our individual crafts and deepen our understanding of business building. We frequently collaborate and visit each other’s communities.
- Create a Cool Side Hustle Collaboration
Big-time authors Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Grant co-founded with Rufus Griscom The Next Big Idea Book Club , a subscription-based service that leverages their unique points of view into shared curation of new books. While not a big revenue source for them, it is a great way to sustain the interest and attention of their book reading audiences.
- Build in an Online Summit
Full disclosure: I am allergic to the way that most online summits are built and promoted, since the rigid structure is often centered only for the benefit of the summit organizer. But when run well, online summits can be a great way to expose your audience to amazing experts, as well as build your mailing list. I have been really impressed with the organizers at Radical Summits who produce the beneficial summit results without the cookie cutter ick of online summits past.
- Partner with a Cause
Eastfork Pottery, the Asheville, North Carolina-based business that makes luscious mugs and dinnerware, has a Spread Wealth, Shop Seconds initiative where they partner social causes. This can expand awareness and build deeper ecosystem relationships while helping to build strong and sustainable communities.
- Participate with Associations
If you work with an audience segment that is in a vertical market such as marketing or accounting, partnering with associations who serve that vertical market is an excellent way to get in front of thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of ideal clients. You can build a useful webinar that you could pitch to association chapters around the country, or the world. Or you could write a guest article for the association newsletter or blog.
- Bundle Services
Most of us Verizon customers were delighted when we learned that we got a year of Disney+ for free (Mandalorian FTW!). As Marketing Brew shared in today’s newsletter, “Disney+ has since ballooned in popularity, with about one-fifth of its early subscribers coming in through Verizon’s doors. Disney+ reported a healthy 118 million subscribers as of Q4 2021. So it’s no wonder companies like AMC+ and Discovery+ rushed to strike similar long-term free trials with the telco.”
While you may not have the customer base or marketing dollars like Verizon and Disney, you can look for core products or services that you can bundle for your ideal customers. Doing so can benefit both partners substantially, and help your customers to fully solve their problems.
I hope these ideas get your wheels turning about ways to grow your business through partnerships. When you think about contacts as one to many as opposed to one to one, your marketing efforts are more effective and efficient.
If you need some hands-on help building a strategic partnership plan, check out my class here.