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Build Smart Alliances
One of the main questions asked by my clients is “How do you find joint venture partners?” In business these days you have got to have allies. You need to choose your suppliers, contractors, partners and clients well, and you will benefit from the advantages.

Since the sum of the parts is always greater than the whole, build a network of partners (allies) who can offer you: better prices on supplies; preferential treatment; contra deals (eg: a PR firm might offer to write media releases for a hair salon in exchange for styling of clients’ hair before press conferences); a cohesive service for your customers (eg: a pub owner might offer food to soak up the beer by arranging for a nearby Thai restaurant to deliver meals when hungry patrons order at the counter). Be creative! You must think laterally, outside the square.

Damian Tynan, national marketing manager of McDonald’s in a recent article advises small business operators to, “Find partners who add value to your brand if you want to accelerate the growth of your business.” In other words be smart with who you hook up with. For example, the alliance between McDonald’s and Coca-Cola adds to both companies by offering more to the customer. “People already know and trust Coke, so we don’t need to go the hard yards of marketing a ‘McCola’ that wouldn’t have the same brand recognition.”

McDonald’s also has a strategic alliance with the advertising agency they have used for more than 30 years. “We benefit from the understanding they have of our business, the outside perspective they offer, and the years of relationship building,” Tynan explained.

As with everything in life and business, there has to be something in it for everyone. As in the examples given in the above article you can see where both parties win. The hair salon gets to style a person’s hair that is, or potentially could be famous. So they could use photos of that person to put on the wall of the salon, either taken in the salon or at the press conference, there might be news footage that could be used for future marketing as well. Also, the salon has a professional press release written by professionals with great media contacts, and they will be able to point you in the right direction with newspapers etc. Obviously the PR Company also wins by saving the cost of making up their clients prior to the conferences, a win-win.

Look around you there are examples everywhere, the McDonald’s one is an obvious one that many people miss. I’m sure if you take some time to think about it right now, you could think of another half dozen off the top of your head. And why wouldn’t you take time to think, after all “It’s your business”.

by Brian Brown

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