By Mark Creedon
A successful alliance strategy made easy
One of the greatest ways to secure referral business (second only to asking existing clients and customers to refer) is to develop great strategic alliances.
This is a matter of looking at who else within either your industry or associated industries would be prepared to create an alliance with you in the interest of cross referrals and promotions.
An example of a great strategic alliance that a web development company could strike would be with an internet service provider.
Therefore if I sign up with a provider, under the terms of the alliance, I am automatically referred to the web developer and vice versa.
It’s also very important to think outside the square when it comes to strategic alliances.
I have a client who runs a very successful national portraiture photography business who has developed alliances with what at first you may consider to be the most unlikely parties.
For example, one of the most successful alliances that they created has been with a dental surgery!
It seems quite a random pairing at first but consider that when a customer is waiting in the surgery for their appointment, they notice a lovely portrait on the wall and then after their dental work has been completed, the staff at the surgery offer them a gift certificate that entitles them to a special offer available through the photographic studio.
This is a perfect example of “thinking outside the square” when establishing strategic alliances, but you also need to make sure that this match occurs not only from an industry perspective but also from a business ethics and operations perspective as well.
The last thing that you want to do, is to spend a lot of time developing a reputation for having an ethical business that has phenomenal customer service, only to strike a strategic alliance with a business who doesn’t share those same qualities, which could then, in fact, make the alliance completely counter-productive.
Think creatively about potential alliance partners. It is well worth remembering that you are really looking for businesses which do business with your ideal client.
Once you establish that as a guide then the limiting thoughts which often keep business owners thinking inside the square will quickly disappear.
Think about your ideal client, what else do they spend money on?
What are the other products and services they are likely to buy?
It doesn’t have to be linked to your business or even in the same product or service genre.
The opportunities are limitless.
You have to start with an assessment of the clients you currently deal with, break those into segments and then think about what else those segments would buy.
Once you have that done you can create an alliance target list and away you go.
Remember, creating an alliance is about creating mutuality however it does not have to always be an equal arrangement.
If a business earns credibility and gratitude from its clients by referring to you, that is valuable in itself even if you are not able to refer as much business back to them.
The other secret is to not be shy!
Go ahead and ask for an alliance.
If the other business owner isn’t interested, move on and fine someone who thinks like you.
You will have a few knockbacks in the quest to grow your business through alliances but once the system running you will add to your business year on year.
In fact, I would expect that even in the first year of having all of those alliances in place you will see an increase in profit of over 20 per cent.
And the best part is it will cost you very little other than time and some creative thinking.
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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