What is Collaboration Marketing? Collaboration Marketing is an abstract mind-set used to describe a business building process that involves two or more entities (with similar, but non-competing products, services or ideas) that agree to contribute their existing assets (people, time, money, processes and resources) for the synergistic betterment of a newly formed relationship, business, or process. What? Ok, here's a better way to understand "Collaboration Marketing". Collaboration Marketing Collaboration Marketing, (CM) often referred to as a Strategic Alliance (SA), Joint Venture (JV's), or Corporate Partnering (CP) can be defined as "a mutually beneficial relationship between two or more parties". Collaboration Marketing can range from being very simplistic, quick, informal one-time events to very formal, long-term projects, relationships, or even the creation of a completely new company or company division. The power and possibilities that you can accomplish from a well-planned "Collaboration Marketing Process" are numerous, exciting, and (can be) quite profitable. In this article, I'll focus primarily on giving you some high level examples on the benefits of using an informal Strategic Alliance for getting new clients quickly.
The underlying principle that makes a Strategic Alliance so powerful is that they work on the basis of a "trusting relationship". Trust among the participating parties, trust between the network of clients, members and any other circle of influence you or a potential Strategic Alliance partner may have. Trust that in most cases has taken you or your future Strategic Alliances partner months and even years to develop, cultivate, and nurture. Ok, stay with me while I give a you an example of "the reason why" Strategic Alliances work. Think about how you make your buying decisions.
What's the first thing you usually do when you need to make a product or service purchase that you've not used or consumed before. In most cases you'll ask your a family member, friend or business associate for a referral. Are you asking for a referral because you don't know were to find the product or service you're seeking? Unlikely, the Internet, Yellow Pages, and 411 information services are overflowing with invasive ads for products and services (this is also another reason to use Strategic Alliances, but we'll talk more about penetrating the "Noise Barrier" in a future Collaboration Marketing article) More then likely, your asking someone you "trust" because they have already gone through the sales experience with a particular vendor and can possibly save you time, money, and frustration based on their experiences. Let's take an example of how a start-up company used a Strategic Alliance to generate new clients within one week with little to no marketing and advertising cost.
Simon opened his Web Design Company with a passion for creating websites, logos, and custom graphics for his clients. Simon was a skilled graphic designer, but his sales and marketing skills were based solely on theory and what he learned from a few books he had recently read. Simon wanted to do a promotion offering 25% off his services for new clients. Simon and I had a conversation about this promotion and asked me my advice and thoughts on this type of promotion. His objectives were to find new clients quickly without spending a lot of money on marketing. I told him that he had two primary objections to overcome since his business was new, he currently had only one client and his competition in the Web Design space was fierce and while competing strictly on a discount price point may work, I suggested he use a Strategic Alliance to keep his prices at a competitive market rate to obtain new clients, while creating a "leverage switch" with a complimentary business owner that already had the a trusting relationship with the exact type of clients Simon was looking to provide service to.
I suggested Simon call local printers, illustrators, and web programmers in his area. I had him pick local vendors (so he could actually go meet these other business owners, which builds rapport and trust) that work in complimentary, not competitive businesses. Simon contacted a local print shop, introduced himself and offered to provide a "Web Design" division to the print shops existing base of over 300 clients. Within one week, Simon and the owner of the print shop wrote an email letter to his existing clients announcing the new service. Within two weeks Simon gained an immediate influx of client requests with an acquisition cost of zero! The reason this relationship worked is based on the established trust the printer had with his clients and the trust that Simon built with the printer. By showing him his portfolio, proving to the printer that Simon was capable and skilled, meeting him in person (not necessary, but it's an added way to build trust and rapport) and offering the printer an added profit stream opportunity to open a new "web division" with minimal to no out of pocket costs.
This was clearly a win-win Strategic Alliance. The printer was able to provide a profitable service (that his clients were asking for) and Simon was able to position himself in front of an established "warm market" of prospects. What Strategic Alliance opportunities could you use to expand your business this quickly? Copyright (c) 2007 Christian Fea.
Christian Fea is a Collaboration Marketing Specialist. He educates business owners on Strategic Alliances, Joint Ventures, and Corporate Partnering Tactics. Specifically, he shows you how to implement, strategize, and align yourself with others that can get you to where you want to be in your online and/or offline business in the shortest amount of time. He can be reached at http://www.christianfea.com