As a small business owner and small boutique brand, it is essential to keep an eye out for low cost ways to grow my business and boost market presence. One way that is extremely beneficial is to develop strategic brand partnerships.
I look at Brand Partnerships a bit like making that perfect cup of coffee. The right amount of each element makes the perfect blend. But add too much cream, not enough sweetener or the wrong roast and man you will be left with a bitter after taste. And hey - sometimes you really just need a cuppa tea! So, let's talk about what makes a successful Brand Partnership and what to look for.
The first thing is to know is what YOUR brand is about. By having a true, honest and deep understanding of your own brand you will know what to look for in other brands and what are signs a relationship may not work. Because remember, when you develop a Brand Partnership, you are in effect endorsing that brand and vice versa. This is why clear and true understanding of each other's core values is so essential.
Because as amazing as Brand Partnerships are, as I learned the hard way: the wrong partnerships can be extremely costly. I once partnered with a company and within 3 months it had cost me customers, brand reputation and out of pocket funds. While they were quite successful in their space, the partnership wasn't a good fit for my small boutique brand and our general business approach could not have been more opposite. I would have known that if I took more time to consider the partnership before just jumping in, checkbook in hand. Had I not only considered their company profile more deeply, but that of my own I could have avoided the whole mess and loss altogether. A costly but important lesson. Since that experience (a nice word for failure don't you think?), I have taken those lessons and turned around some great brand partnerships.
So when you are considering what brands you may want to partner with keep YOUR brand message in mind at all times. Thing to consider & questions to ask when considering a brand to partner with:
Does the proposed partner brand share my core values?
Does the proposed partner share my goals & objectives?
Do I share an audience with the proposed partner - is this the right market share?
What is my brand perception & will this partnership enhance or hurt that?
Will this partnership help my audience & customers by offering them added value?
Will I add value to their customer base & audience?
Will this be fun? (who doesn't want to have some fun while we work!?)
The second thing to know is the type of Brand Partnership you want. I work with various companies, large and small, for various partnerships on various levels. Every Brand Partnership should be unique in how it serves each brand to be successful. The cookie cutter approach to I promote you / you promote me doesn't work. My small businesses is handmade and boutique and about personal relationships. Any Brand Partnerships I engage in should reflect that or it effects my credibility with my customers & audience and doesn't serve either brand well.
The beauty is that good partnerships do not have to be costly. Yes, you could opt for a co-branded effort or collaboration that may require a financial investment. But it could also be an exchange with a brand (big or small) within your arena to help reach each other's audience and amplify each other's brand message or share each other's products. The key is to develop the Brand Partnerships that work for YOU.
The third thing to know is the goal for each brand involved in your Brand Partnership. Be clear, up front in objectives and in what you can offer. As you discuss opportunities to work together be clear on what deliverables and responsibilities are expected of each party. The key to successful relationships is for both parties to show up and be engaged and deliver the goods so to speak. Neither should be a "taker" and both should benefit from the partnership. This way, even if the partnership doesn't work out, you can part on good terms. This is essential if you partner with someone who is already in your arena.
An example of an amazing Brand Partnership is that of T-Mobile & Marcus Lemonis. Now, to me, as I was already a student & fan of Marcus and a longtime customer of T-Mobile I was familiar with both brands and this just made sense:
Both share a common goal of reaching the entrepreneur market share
Both are built on bucking the system and focus on the people
Neither is afraid of a little controversy (and not afraid to have fun with it)
Both want to help their customers and people they interact with succeed
These are just a few of the many reasons this partnership works. Follow their partnership on Facebook and get in on the tips they share on Whiteboard Wednesdays. A plethora of small business knowledge that I personally have benefited from and many things I have in fact implemented.
You can look at their Brand Partnership and instantly see the shared core values, and mutually beneficial aspects of the relationship.
And here comes a bonus... as a fan of the T-Mobile & Marcus Lemonis partnership I was notified when they had a contest to win an iPad mini 4 with 3 months service. Heck yeah I entered. And would you believe I WON! No kidding, when the T-Mobile gal called me I was like "SHUT UP" because I could not believe it. So I decided to pay it forward and give away my iPad 3 that I had. The deets on what you will win:
- iPad 3 / 64gb
- it is in GREAT condition - because um helloo!!!!
- It is engraved with one of my favorite sayings: "Why wait for the storm to pass when you can dance in the rain"
- it comes with a Zagg keyboard
So get out there, dig in and see what Brand Partnerships could help you grow and enter below for that sweet pay-it-forward prize.