Build a Small Business Saturday Tribe: Working with Other Small Businesses
Typically, retailers like to keep their tricks of the trade a secret, working hard not to give other businesses a competitive edge over them. But in protecting themselves, they may also be shielding themselves from some pretty fantastic benefits of collaboration.
According to a Fast Company article by Verizon`s President of Consumer and Mass Business, "One way of overcoming current challenges is through collaboration—in unexpected ways—with other companies. Today`s fast-paced marketplace requires mutually beneficial partnerships to leverage creativity, experience and resources, with right- and left-brain thinkers, that can help you arrive at a solution in less time."
Collaborating with other businesses helps to:
- Expand the number of people your messages are reaching
- Grow your team of experts
- Provide unique offerings to customers
As Small Business Saturday approaches, you may be thinking, "Sure, it makes sense for a multi-million dollar media company to collaborate, but how do I make it happen on a smaller scale?"
Make a List of Local Businesses You Already Have a Relationship With
Chances are, you`ve got friends in the industry. Perhaps you know a pet storeowner from your local Chamber of Commerce meetings. Or your cousin owns the restaurant down the street. Make a note of every business where you already know, and like, someone.
Make a List of Businesses You Think You Would Like to Work With
Time for some dreaming! Think about which local retailers you would love to work with, from that trendy new cupcakery to everyone`s favorite classic toy store. Now is as good a time as any to build new partnerships that could benefit you in the long run.
Come Up with a Partnership Idea for Each Business
Each business on your lists is unique, so it`s important to take the time to think about how you would collaborate with each one of them individually. Let`s go with our example of the pet store, restaurant, bakery, and toy store.
For the pet store, you may decide to team up and donate a portion of your proceeds to your local animal shelter. You and the pet storeowner could also volunteer at the animal shelter together and share photos on social media.
For the restaurant, you could give a discount to anyone who shows you a receipt from their business, and vice versa.
For the cupcakery, you could serve cupcakes at an in-store event, and have coupons near each of your cash registers. The cupcakery could also give gift certificates in their store, or flyers to upcoming events.
For the toy store, you could put together a gift guide for men. Help them shop for their wives AND kids, quickly! Then ask the toy store to email the joint-gift guide to their list, as well as post on social media. It might even make sense to print the guide and include them in shopping bags to customers.
"Pitch" the Business
After you come up with the general idea for your partnerships, pitch the businesses on your list, starting with the one you are most excited to collaborate with. If they are unable to work with you, move on to #2. Be sure not to pitch a bunch of businesses at once, or you may end up with more partnerships than you can manage.
Determine Goals and Details with Your Partner
Once you have a partner to work with, determine your goals. How would they define success? How do you define success? What to-dos will come with the partnership and who will be responsible for them? Create a specific plan so that you can understand one another's` expectations.
Work Hard to Cross-Promote
With your plan in action, be sure that you are promoting your business and their business equally. Acknowledge that you would be unable to make your event or sale possible without them, and pave the way for a solid, long-term relationship.
Still hesitant to work with other businesses that are vying for your customers` money? Consider this story from the American Express Open Forum
. The owners of Brandon Hills Vineyard don`t see competing wineries as the enemy, but rather allies in attracting tourists. According to the article, the business owners say that, "...nearby vineyards lend credibility to the area`s viability as a wine region and have created a destination for agro-tourism."
If these business owners can find ways to collaborate with and support their competition, surely you can team up with a business in your neighborhood!
Here are some unique collaboration ideas:
- Co-sponsor a guest speaker
- Team up to support a local cause or charity
- Feature how well your products and their products or services go together with an event (ex.: Work with a clothing store to highlight how to pair with jewelry.)
- Offer gift certificates for your business to their customers, and vice versa
- Organize a community event for some friendly neighborhood competition
Have you ever collaborated with another local business?
If you`re looking to learn how to leverage social media with your partners, and to gain access to Small Business Saturday done-for-you social media posts and training videos, click here
to learn more about Social Edge, an online training website for retailers looking to increase traffic and sales through social media. Use the coupon code RDIDiamonds
to save 25% on a yearly membership.
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Tools were created to simplify our lives, not make them more complicated. So let these tools do some of the work and spend more time meeting the needs of your customers… and your bottom line.
Crystal Vilkaitis is the resident Social Media Expert at RDI Diamonds and owner of Crystal Media; a company dedicated to helping retailers integrate proven social media, mobile and email marketing strategies into their businesses. Crystal started Social Edge, an online membership group exclusive to retailers looking to gain an edge over competition using social media, who need direct access to what`s important and relevant when it comes to marketing their store and products online. For more information and to receive free bi-weekly social media tips to your email inbox, visit crystalmedia.co or socialedge.co.