Include Joint Ventures in Your Small Business Target Marketing For Dramatic Profit Increases

What is consistently rated as one of the most effective small business target marketing strategies? Without a doubt it is the Joint Venture (JV), also known as a strategic alliance. Target, or niche marketing means that you are marketing directly to the prospect most likely to buy your product or service. Your JV strategy can be the ultimate form of target marketing since you are using the targeted customer and prospect list of another business owner.

The JV and strategic alliance are so popular and profitable because they leverage the assets (customer list, goodwill, relationship, etc.) your partner has developed with their client and prospect base. Nearly all potential buyers (business and consumer) prefer to do business with a company, firm or practice for which they have a degree of trust.

Marketing legend Dan Kennedy likes to say that we are all walking around holding an umbilical cord saying “plug me in and tell me what to do.” Whether you are looking for a place to buy a hot dog, to buy a yacht, or looking for a brain surgeon or a new church in your community, you are looking for someone to recommend where you should go to obtain the product, service or advice.

Don’t confuse the JV with referrals. Referrals are great for new business and are an effective small business target marketing strategy but generally are given only one or two at a time. Referrals can also dry up if you are not diligent about keeping in touch with your clients and letting them know how much you appreciate and value their business.

JV’s can be as simple as selecting a retail partner and issuing a joint coupon to one another’s client base. They can also be very complex, multi-million dollar deals between large companies. American Express is an example of a very large and sophisticated company that partners with several other large businesses to leverage the client lists of both firms. If you have one of their cards, you have received numerous calls and mailers from them endorsing their JV partners. The partners get the implied endorsement of a blue chip company like Amex and Amex gets increased card purchases as you use the card to buy the recommended partners products.

Now that you’ve decided to add the JV to your small business marketing tools, where do you start? The first thing you must do is to create a demographic profile of your target client. What else do they buy and where do they buy it? For example, Paul Flood Marketing, which is my company, implements a unique and non-traditional marketing system in small businesses and I guarantee profit increases of 25% or more in as little as 90 days. As the old saying goes, “Fish where the fish are,” so I have partnered with other small business consultants, primarily CPA’s and small business attorneys, who have endorsed my services to their clients.

If I had tried to contact many of these business owners cold, I would have probably been turned away but the endorsement of my trusted partners established trust. This is the trust you want to leverage with your potential JV partners.

Armed with the list of potential partners, you formulate your contact strategy. You could try writing letters but I am a strong believer in just picking up the phone and saying to the owner, “Hi, I am a local business owner and I have an idea that could help us both dramatically increase our sales and profits and I’d like to talk with you about it. Do you have a minute so I can explain the concept?

Great, if makes sense for us to talk in more depth, we can arrange a time to get together.” The thing I like about the phone is that I can immediately get a feel about the business and the person in just a couple of minutes.

When you first meet, you will most likely need to explain how the Joint Venture small business target marketing strategy works and how it will benefit both of your businesses. Most small business owners are only familiar with traditional marketing or networking so it may take a bit of explaining to get the concept across.

The most common objection you will encounter is the trust factor so bring testimonials and samples of your product, service, practice or whatever you are selling to the meeting. You need to show why the other business owner person know they can trust you and your business? People are naturally wary (as they should be) about referring others to their clients because their reputation is on the line, as is yours.

Always conduct due diligence. Talk to a couple of their clients and understand their product and commitment to quality service. If you feel uncomfortable at the beginning, bow out of the relationship gracefully. There’s no sense in adding aggravation to your life!

The other objection is the confidentiality of av client list, but that is easily overcome by offering to mail your endorsement of your partner to your list and they mail their endorsement of you to their list. What if you don’t have a list? Pay for a mailing to your partner’s list and pay them a commission or finder’s fee for leads you convert to customers. There are some professions that are prevented from paying or receiving finder’s fees so if this applies to you, you need to investigate alternatives.

What is the simplest JV strategy? Each partner mails an endorsement of the other’s business to their list with a description of the benefits of doing business with them and why they are recommending one another. It’s that simple. The key to success of the JV as your small business target marketing strategy is that you and your partners must be proactive in promoting one another and in managing the relationship. As the person who originated the partnership, take control and action to make it happen. If you have a partner who isn’t committed, drop them and find another.

When you are actively using the JV as a small business marketing tool, you will be amazed at the results you can achieve in a relatively short period of time. Of course, as with any other business strategy, there are experts like myself who can be delivering profits while you are attempting to find your first partner. The key is to make the decision to make it happen, to leverage your contacts and your list and get started!