Collaboration is a great way to build momentum around local events. But working with other small businesses and even with your competitors! — may be daunting for many small business owners.
Not sure where to get started? Here are ideas for working with other local businesses so you can drive attention and awareness about why consumers should shop small while attracting customers to your local businesses.
Who should I collaborate with?
One of the first questions you may ask is, What other business should I be collaborating with? Here are some ideas on where to look.
1) Find People You Like Working With
The best place to look when collaborating with local business owners is your own personal and professional network. Which business owners do you genuinely enjoy working with? What local companies do you admire? Where do you shop when you support other local businesses? Which other local business owners buy from you? Start here, and natural partnerships can easily form for all types of collaboration, from co-marketing to hosting community events like Small Business Saturday block parties.
2) Look Nearby and Think Outside the Box
When it comes to collaborating with other local businesses, similarity can be your ally. It’s a good idea to start with other businesses that are like your own because these partnerships keep everyone’s customers first. Here are a few types of partnerships to consider, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box and get creative with whom to partner with.
a. Complementary Products and Services:
What other types of products or services complement what you offer? Collaborating with businesses that your customers are likely to buy from based on their interests, purchases, and needs is a great fit. For example, a home remodeling service could partner with other home services businesses, such as a home cleaning, plumbing, or landscaping service.
b. Creative Parallels:
What businesses are similar to yours but offer different services or focus on a different specialty or demographic? For example, a salon could partner with a pet care center to offer complimentary discounts for similar services for furry family members. Think of companies you might refer your customers to for other ideas on who to collaborate with.
c. Fan and Local Favorites:
What other local businesses do your customers love? Maybe there’s a bakery down the street from your automotive repair store to partner with, exchanging a sweet treat for customers for free promotion for the bakery!
3) Seek out “Frenemies” in the Same Industry
While this move isn’t for everyone, it can be a great idea to collaborate with other businesses similar to yours on certain projects. For example, multiple businesses in an industry can collaborate by sponsoring a local industry or community event. For instance, multiple local restaurants could host a fundraising event for a local food bank, or businesses with in-home service and repair could collaborate on a house-building project. Collaborating with competitors can bring your customers and community together, especially when it’s done for community service or cause for social good.
What Can I Do With Collaborators?
Once you’ve identified local businesses you want to work with, what should you do to collaborate together? Here are a few ideas.
1) Sponsor and participate in Local Events
Sponsoring local events such as community gatherings, non-profit fundraisers, sports teams, and industry events is a great way to work with other local businesses and build awareness for yours.
Events like Small Business Saturday can drive even more attention and traffic when different businesses work together to organize a large local event. This not only helps you drive interest from each business’s customer base, but it also allows you to amplify your efforts by adding together budgets, offers, and promotional efforts around one common event. For example, many local districts organize street fairs or special shopping days that get a lot of buzz from local shoppers and even media outlets, driving traffic to each business collaborator.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to just be in retail to benefit from local shopping events! Service-based businesses should see about offering special offers and coupons to patrons of these events and host customer appreciation days during shopping events to help drive future business through giveaways and discounts.
2) Cross-Promote with Coupons & Offers
Another way to collaborate with local businesses is to create special coupons or offers for patrons of your collaborators. For example, you and another local business could both offer a special discount for each other’s business to your customer base. You could also build collaboration into a group customer retention program, offering rewards and offers not only for your own company but for other local favorites as well, helping spread the love and customer appreciation to a core group of local businesses.
3) Co-Market Your Services
Another way to collaborate with local businesses is to co-market your services through specific efforts. For example, a health spa could work with another local business, such as a medical clinic, to create a guide on health and wellness trends, with each business contributing its expertise and logo and offering this premium content to its customer base. You could also swap blog posts or articles to another local business’s site, building awareness of your business and its offerings with a complementary local company.
4) Create Product and Service Packages
Want to be a one-stop shop for your customers but don’t offer all the services they really need? Look at working with another local business to create special packages and offers to help solve a customer’s pressing need. For example, a home cleaning service could partner with a caterer to offer a before-and-after holiday event package so that consumers could pay one price for home cleaning, event setup, event service, and post-event cleanup. Of course, you’ll have to work out the legal details and logistics of processing payments, sharing fees, promoting your offer, and creating terms and conditions, but the value of creating truly unique and customer-focused offers and packages with other local businesses can be well worth the effort and help set each business apart.
Working with other local businesses can be a great way to build awareness for your company, provide interesting and unique offers and events, and ultimately help boost your business.
Have you ever collaborated with another local business? What ideas would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in a comment below!