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A Tech Timeout for Strategic Partnerships

A Tech Timeout for Strategic Partnerships

Posted in Business Strategy, Customer Service, Networking by Concise Digital on June 22, 2014

Tech is great, the advent of the internet has made the world a smaller place, it’s opened up new areas of marketing and certainly made those areas more cost effective and accountable. However sometimes in order to better connect with our audience we might actually need to disconnect from the internet. Tech can’t always provide the answer and at times can serve as a distraction and an obstacle instead of the solution we hoped for.

Strategic partnerships are relationships that are mutually beneficial for both parties. They generally offer complimentary services and tend not to directly compete. Once leveraged they provide some of the most effective marketing you could ever wish to do.

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Developing Strategic Partnerships

The business world often tells us we should hoard our secrets and work against everyone, in isolation. The problem with this fear based approach is that it slows our progress or growth. Two heads are better than one, can also be applied to business. Two businesses working toward a common goal can both support each other more effectively than when done on their own.

I’m going to focus on the potential strategic partnerships a Personal Trainer (PT) could develop that would be mutually beneficial for both parties. A PT’s ultimate aim is two fold;

  1. Acquire as many new clients as possible
  2. Retain as many clients as possible

A great way to retain clients is to offer discounts/promotions on complimentary services that you can’t offer yourself. A PT will generally focus on developing training and nutrition programs to support their clients goals. Being selective in the strategic partnerships will ensure a PT doesn’t lose clients to those relationships and if anything reinforces customer retention. With this in mind the following would make for great strategic partnerships for our PT;

  • Local Gyms; there is a risk of some competition from local gyms, however, many are happy to provide their venue for a percentage of a PT’s fee. This opens up new geographic locations to exploit and if a PT goes above and beyond, constantly proving their expertise it’s possible the gym will promote your services to their members. This brand association goes a long way and enables a PT to tap into an existing customer base already established.
  • Supplement Stores; People who are serious about their training will often use supplements to assist in reaching their goals. A mobile PT is not likely to have the capital to stock a large amount of supplements or the space to store it. Building a relationship with such stores enables PT’s to potentially offer their members discounted rates at specific outlets and ideally would get the supplemart store promoting the PT as well. Building an effective two referral scheme.
  • Health Food Stores; Whilst the PT would outline nutritional and meal plans, they can’t actually provide the food for their client. Building effective relationships with local suppliers of good quality nutritious food obviously has some great benefits for a PT’s client base. A good referral system could again work both ways, with health food conscious people being exposed to your business when visiting such stores.
  • Coffee Shops and Restaurants; hand pick establishments that you know offer good quality healthy options instead of deep fried sugar loaded junk food (that would negatively impact your brand and reputation). Once more build two way referral programs allowing your clients to receive a discount at their venue, whilst also working with the venue to promote your services.
  • Business networks, local chambers, schools and businesses; Any organisation that can put you in front of an active audience and give you the time to create an impact is always worth investing in. Our PT could offer to do one hour a week frees group training in a park, office or school. The association with the group should support brand awareness and establish expertise. Longer term it should result in new clients and referrals, whilst the group receiving the free time also gains from an hours worth of guided exercise each week.

The list above is just what was pulled from the top of my head, no doubt with more time I could identify other partnerships that would be mutually beneficial. It’s important to see and identify that the partnerships are mutually beneficial, and not just positively affecting one party. This helps the PT owner sell the concept to potential partners in a way which only adds value to both parties. From retaining or extending your customer base you can clearly see that there are major benefits to the PT’s customers that go beyond the actual services offered.

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What makes a good partnership referral program

A referral on any level is the most effective form of marketing there is. It’s overwhelming benefits are often that it costs nothing to the person receiving it and you also have to respect the trust and recommendation that comes with a referral.

When we look at paid advertising/marketing every dollar spent needs to be accountable. The most effective way to do this is to understand what our “cost per acquisition”  is (CPA), or how many new customers did I receive as a result of a specific amount of marketing spend, then ensure your referral program is more cost effective when discounts are applied. Note: you will often find this figure differs across your marketing channels, some advertising mediums will be more effective than others.

Referral programs will differ for different organisations, so it’s not always possible to offer value for value.

Creating Partnership Opportunities

Whilst we are trying to keep the theme of “Timeout for Tech” I would recommend using search engines and websites like Linkedin to identify potential partners!

  • First research a list of services which compliment your business offering. You may already be using third parties to support your business offering, they should be the first opportunities to create a beneficial relationship.
  • Before approaching opportunities outline a brief referral opportunity. Keep it brief and open to change, but ensure benefits are clearly discussed for both parties.
  • Now start working through your list, ideally put aside half a day to a whole day each week/fortnight or month to go and build these strategic partnerships. At least until you are satisfied with the amount you have.
  • We are bombarded with messages, likes, emails and all sorts of other digital communication. We consciously switch off to it, so pick up the phone, or better yet, walk into the business and meet the owners/managers. Introduce yourself and simply ask to arrange a time to come and speak about the potential partnership and the benefits it has to both parties. Making the effort to get to know people in person bucks the trend in this digital age and is likely to help you stand out! Ensure you are well presented, professional in your approach and above all, passionate about your business!

Things to remember when growing your business

  • You cannot put a value on a personal touch, attention to detail, great communications and excellent customer service.
  • Sustain strategic partnerships that support your business and that remains fair and equitable, know when to pull the pin on relationships that don’t support your growth.
  • Being able to convey your passion in a professional way will help you win clients and create strategic partnerships.
  • Technology absolutely has it’s place, but it’s not the only way to achieve growth and can become an obstacle if not managed correctly.
  • Building strategic partnerships is just one way to market your business, contact us for a whole lot more!

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