In this six part series we will share some practical strategies that anyone - be it a small business, startup, non-profit, established company or just the individual looking to promote themself - can utilize to get the word out on a local level.
For part four, find a partner!
Let’s face it, trying to start a business or venture can be an overwhelming proposition - let alone trying to get people to know it exists. It often feels like you are attempting to climb Mount Everest without a Sherpa.
The good news is you are not alone.
Partnering with people for mutual benefit is a tried and true way of gaining a direct line to established audiences who are very likely primed to engage with you. Unlike an advertising or sponsorship relationship, these collaborations are built through an exchange of resources, access and exposure. The net result is each party gains something that benefits their own business goals.
The two primary forms of partnership are...
The last decade has seen an explosion of the individual as public influencer. Where as in the past people looked to established media entities to drive local and national tastes, now the influencer reigns supreme. They are generally hyper-focused on a particular niche (food, fashion, travel, etc.) or are savvy tastemakers that people turn to for recommendations and inspiration. Social media, websites, blogs, podcasts and YouTube are where they live.
Most importantly, they are overwhelming local and are talking to your target audience.
First, you must identify who the relevant influencers are to your audience. All you need to do is run a few searches on the web and each of the major social media platforms and you will find at least a few people worth reaching out to.
From there it is just a matter of starting a conversation with them, pitching yourself and offering them an angle to help promote your product in a way that will also benefit them. Often this takes the form of free merchandise to try/review, free access to your service, a VIP invitation to an event or even a more formal co-branded partnership where you team up in some capacity.
You get: exposure, brand lift and potentially sales
They get: content they can seed out to their audience to feed their own brand
It might sound crazy but sometimes partnering with your competitors is actually a smart strategic move. You see this with food trucks all of the time, they band together to set up shop in an area together because they know that the bigger collective footprint they create, the more people it will draw which ultimately benefits all of them. This is why shop owners allow other businesses to hang ads and leaflets on the premises. This is why websites link to each other.
As the old adage goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Find out who your competitors are, both direct and indirect, and instead of taking an adversarial posture with them - extend a friendly hand. Pitch a mutually beneficial idea and gauge their interest. Ask how you can help them, not the other way around. You will be surprised how often this leads to something positive.
You should also actively engage with businesses and organizations that are either connected to your area of focus or to your audience. They are often more than happy to partner up in some way as there is little to no risk in doing so.
A few ways you can work together include:
- Either inviting them to be a part of your event or organizing one together
- Cross-promoting each other to your respective consumers/audiences
- Collaborating on a product or charitable cause
- Becoming exclusive partners in some capacity, be it as mutual product providers or industry cohorts
Now get out there and make some friends!