Photography Business Tip—How To Develop a Marketing Partnership with Other Small Business Owners, Part 2
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Most small businesses, including digital photographers, have limited marketing budgets. One of the best methods to stretch your budget is to create and organize a marketing partnership with other small businesses that are promoting themselves to the same group of potential customers that you are. Part 1 of this PhotographyTalk.com articlebegins to present the steps of this process, while Part 2 offers the remainder.
Creating a Calendar of Joint Marketing Efforts
An important part of your summary and presentation to potential partners is exactly what you propose to do together. The best way to start is to keep it simple and create a “test” promotion: For example, a flyer with an equal-size coupon for a special offer from each of the businesses, and then distribute the flyer to each other’s customers and prospects during a two-week or four-week period. The only cost is the printing of the flyers that you split equally. Then, share your results to determine how well the flyer pulled new business for each of the marketing partners.
If the results are satisfactory, then you may want to distribute a quarterly flyer with different special offers in the same manner. As your relationship grows and everyone is happy with the results, you might want to test other joint promotions: a mailer sent to your combined databases; a joint open house, especially if you and your partners are all in the same strip mall; etc. Some possibly promotions are specific to your partners. For instance, a family restaurant may use paper placemats, which could display one of your best photos, a short photo tip for casual photographers or insider information about the best landscapes to photograph in the area.
Another benefit of your joint marketing efforts is that two or three thinking heads are better than one. There are a multitude of specific promotions you and your partners can create and implement if you brainstorm and plan them together.
Managing Your Small-Business Marketing Partnership
It’s important that your marketing partnership plan also include details about how it will be managed because the partnership structure can also generate some additional benefits of efficiency and economies of scale. For instance, one of the partners may already be working with a graphics designer who can then create flyers, etc. for your joint venture, and split the cost three ways. Another partner may have a lower-cost printing source; and remember that 3,000 flyers with all three companies promoted on it cost less per flyer than three businesses having 1,000 different flyers printed.
Assigning Roles and Responsibilities: Part of managing your marketing partnership is deciding which of you will be responsible for the various tasks for each promotion. This will be determined by the number and kind of business owners that join you. One might have more time or another may enjoy developing, implementing and managing marketing promotions more than the others.
For example, you might meet once a quarter to plan the next quarter’s joint promotion. One business owner may be responsible for having a flyer designed, another to have it printed and a third to distribute it. Someone should be responsible for keeping excellent records of costs and payments for tax and other purposes.
Testing and Feedback
The most important aspect of your marketing partnership is testing various promotions, headlines, etc. with different segments of your combined databases to determine what works best. You’ll then want to discuss the test results and other feedback during your regular meetings to make any adjustments for future promotions.
As a final note, don’t be surprised if you have to take a leadership role early in this process, since you initiated and introduced the idea to your neighbor businesses. You may have to do most of the work for the first few promotions just to prove to your potential partners that the idea has value and will benefit everyone involved.