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Marketing Tactics: Partnerships Provide Power! (4/6/2010)
By Leslie Stevens, Eclipse Marketing
Most audio/video integrators run very lean and have limited bandwidth in which to effectively manage their business - or at the very least, run their business as effectively as they'd like. Partnerships offer many ways to enhance your limited capabilities, but this does not mean you have to share ownership and split equity. Indeed most of the time it doesn't make sense to mix and mingle assets and equity with other companies in a formal partnership, but there are numerous types of partnership that will enable you to greatly benefit without combining companies. First, let's identify five different types of companies and organisations that you can potentially partner with. After that, we'll focus on the benefits you can get from various partnerships.
Types of company with which to partner
1. Community associations, such as the local Chamber of Commerce.
Before you determine the type of company that is best to partner with, clarify your objectives. Once established, you'll be more likely to achieve your goals. Below are ten reasons why you should consider partnerships, which don't involve integrating your assets:
1. Marketing support
Just about any company you partner with can promote your business. For example, you can partner with an interior designer trade association. In this case, you can provide their members technical expertise in exchange for the association promoting your company. This is a great way to get in front of designers. Think of ways you can offer ongoing advice that won't take up much time, but gives you maximum exposure. For example, you could write a technical tips piece in their monthly e-newsletter to members.
Partnerships increase your credibility, especially if it's a reputable business, such as your local Chamber of Commerce. Offer to speak at a local event in exchange for promotion. When you do this, however, figure out ways you can support the association on an ongoing basis so they will continue to promote your company.
3. Appear larger
When other companies promote you, it makes you appear larger and more stable. The assumption is that there is more horse-power behind your company. Image is everything.
4. Increased leads
By working with other companies, whether your reason is cross-promotion or other, you should get access to their database if that's what you arrange in advance. In addition, you can cross-promote services through each other's marketing efforts, such as through links on electronic newsletters.
5. New marketing ideas
No matter who you partner with, you can always get fresh marketing ideas. Let's say you partner with an architectural firm: most likely they've tried various marketing strategies targeting the same type of customer you're targeting. Schedule a strategy session with them to discuss what has worked and failed. Share your ideas as well - this is a partnership. Remember, if they get more business using your marketing ideas, they will send you those referrals.
6. New business tips
Similar to marketing tips, you can also learn new business tips, such as new accounting rules, tax tips, inventory control, etc. The whole purpose of a partnership is to benefit from each other. In this case, your partner doesn't even have to be related to our industry. The purpose of this partnership is simply to learn how to run your company better.
7. Share resources
Partnerships enable you to share resources. For example, you might not have enough work to hire a full-time accountant, installer or programmer, but you need reliable talent on a regular basis. You can partner with another company who is in the same situation and arrange to split one person's time. That way you will have greater control over your human resources when you need them.
8. Offer additional services
In the event you're not making as much money on the services you currently offer, you can re-sell other services, such as monthly security monitoring. Now you can add these services to existing CCTV solutions. In this example of course, you need to explore legal liabilities, but with the proper protection, you can significantly increase revenue.
9. Get other people selling your services
There's no reason another company can't re-sell your services under their company name. For example, if a pool contractor is thinking about getting into outdoor audio, offer to be their subcontractor. Once in the customer's home, you have a great opportunity to sell your whole-house audio/video solutions.
10. Acquire additional resources
Perhaps you don't have in-house talent for a certain expertise, such as lighting design. A partner can supply you that service under your company name. Now you can offer your customers complete lighting design and integration services.
Partnerships offer you many benefits if you structure it correctly. Think of it as sharing resources, leads, services, ideas, etc. Your partnership needs to be a win/win situation for everyone.
A solid partnership will take time to develop. Make sure you know who you are getting involved with. Their reputation will affect your business. With that said, you need to be a good partner as well.
Leslie Stevens is President of Eclipse Marketing. Eclipse Marketing. Eclipse Marketing is a full service marketing and public relations firm, servicing the residential and commercial audio/video and security industry. Eclipse Marketing provides electronic system contractors, manufacturers and distributors with professionally-designed and affordable marketing material. Eclipse Marketing is partners with HiddenWires, CEDIA, TechHome, PARA and InfoComm International.
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