Have you often thought about making changes to your business to improve growth? Where do small business partnership in business ideas with other companies fall on your list? Probably pretty low is our guess. That is the surprising response we get from many of our clients.
Change is not death. Fear of change is death.
If you study the corporate strategy of world brands, big and small, over the past few decades, you will see one thing they all have in common. The commonality is the implementation of a wide variety of collaborative partnerships with other companies. That holds true of even small businesses.
It is not a rocket science. It is a simple process of finding complimentary businesses that your clients are currently using. Find ways, many of which we will discuss in this blog, working with those businesses to get your message in front of a wider list of clients or communities.
The benefits of partnering
No matter what industry you look at, some of the most successful businesses are those that have created partnerships with other establishments.
When you partner with another business, you expand your reach, increase your exposure, find new markets, develop new products, and boost your success.
And the benefits can accrue for just about any business.
We are always on the lookout for good ideas of collaboration and partnerships, with examples of each for successful growth. In this article I will describe 9 ideas for ways to collaborate with other companies, giving you an example of each. Read carefully as they will hopefully expand your thinking on this subject. Let’s get started with a discussion of each idea and example:
Partnership in business … product development
Are you a business that markets a product that you developed? Have you thought about how to combine this product with other product(s) in new and unique ways? That is an awesome way to create new products and services and therefore potentially creating new or expanded markets.
Consider this example where Google and Mattel combined two of their products to put a new spin on the classic “view master” toy, a rather old but strong product from Mattel.
The new product is a view master powered by Google Cardboard technology that will give kids a taste of virtual and augmented reality.
Buy Mattel’s headset, pop in an Android phone with the view master app (or any other Google Cardboard app currently in the Google Play Store) downloaded, and you’ll be able to explore simulated 3-D worlds.
Mattel will also sell “experience reels” that will offer other exclusive augmented reality content that is built around some older Mattel content products. For example, Mattel will sell a San Francisco-themed reel that will use augmented reality to let kids explore different tourist destinations in San Francisco. Really cool.
Small business partnership ideas … complementary product advertising
An easy way to collaborate with another company is to implement joint advertising with complementary products or services between the companies.
An interesting example of this is illustrated in recent joint ads by JC Penney and Disney. This new partner relationship promotes the upcoming, live-action “Cinderella” film. The partnership included a spot from JC Penney during the Academy Awards, targeting women and beauty, using the theme and story of Cinderella. A win-win objective for the companies.
Have you ever looked around your company’s assets for unused or underutilized assets or capacities? This is always an interesting way to start a partnership. Consider the example from Purchase College in New York State.
This college had about 1,000 unused parking spaces on campus. To get the most out of them, they partnered with the nearby airport to rent out parking spaces and a shuttle service for less than half the cost of other lots. It’s raised them over $80,000 a year – money that goes to scholarships and school improvements.
Makes you think, doesn’t it? And think of expanding your sphere of ideas, yes?
New market penetration
Quite often you can identify other companies in markets you covet that could benefit from the introduction of your products.
Such an example is represented where The Huffington Post will launch in Australia in partnership with the local media company Fairfax. The Huffington Post benefits from the help in the Australian market and Fairfax benefits from access from Huffington’s skills, expertise and media platform.
Partnership in business examples … complementary technologies
Just like the example of complementary products and services, companies often have significant expertise in technologies that could be combined with other potential technologies,
The example that comes to mind here is represented by Apple and IBM. This is an example of when two competitors actually worked well together over time and naturally expanded the collaboration. According to IBM, this collaboration brought together the analytics and enterprise-scale computing of IBM with the user experience of Apple’s iPhone and iPad to deliver a new level of value using these products.
There are many collaboration and partnering situations that arise when two companies have natural synergies between each other. This may be a result of complementary skills or maybe products or services.
Here is an example between Benjamin Moore paints and Pottery Barn interior design products. What does one of the world’s premium paint brands and one of the globe’s most renowned home goods store have in common? It is simple … the desire to produce a gorgeous interior for their customers.
While Pottery Barn was doing everything possible to provide furnishing and bedding to make interior décor dreams come true, customers kept asking about paint colors — especially the ones in the Pottery Barn catalogue. The obvious answer was to work with Benjamin Moore to design a unique palette for every season.
Another interesting natural synergy example was between Benjamin Moore and OPI, of nail polish fame. The synergy here? They are both selling the same thing, in this case, colors. How do you make colors more interesting?
They both work hard to do it by creating stuff for fans of other brands. For example, Benjamin Moore made a series of Fenway Park series of paints for Red Sox fans featuring the park’s famous Green Monster wall and scoreboard.
OPI does it with nail polish collections based on other brands such as Coca Cola and Ford’s Mustang.
Same customer target segments
Do you have companies similar to yours that target the same customer segments with different products and services? This can create all sorts of ways to collaborate. Consider this great example of collaboration between McDonalds and Legos.
McDonald’s is a brand known for lots of collaboration with quite a few brand partners. One of the most successful was LEGO, and together the companies produced a mini restaurant (built with LEGOs of course) as well as Happy Meal Toys. There’s nothing kids love more than LEGO, except maybe McDonald’s, which is why this partnership was easy to come by and a natural win-win for everyone involved.
Partnership in business … new market creation
Growth often depends on creating totally new markets. When you can find companies with similar objectives and a complementary skill or product set, a collaborative partnership can result.
Related examples: Is Your Small Business Coping With Technological Change?
Here is a very unique example to illustrate. Inter IKEA, the parent of IKEA, partnered with a hotelier to create a new hotel brand that oddly wouldn’t feature any of the Swedish furniture maker’s products. Surprisingly, Marriott is the partner and Moxy will be the name of the new affordable hotel chain, which plans to open 150 locations across Europe in the next decade.
Moxy Hotels is targeting the essence of the next generation traveler, not only Gen X and Y but people with a younger sensibility, for whom contemporary style and affordability is paramount. This will be Marriott’s first budget brand in Europe.
While the hotels won’t use IKEA furniture, the company has found a way to keep construction costs down in a different way: Many of the hotels will use rooms prefabricated offsite and then assembled like IKEA furniture, a modular type of construction that is new for Marriott. Very different type of partnership, isn’t it?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of business. Find him on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
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