How to Partner With Other Businesses

You can make the most of your marketing dollars by teaming up with a local business — and they don’t even have to be in the hunting space at all.

How to Partner With Other Businesses

Post-pandemic, the world as we know it has changed, and many businesses have found they needed to make sometimes dramatic changes in order to continue. The only good news in the gun industry is that the pandemic was very good for gun and ammo sales, if inventory was available.

If your business benefited from the demands of the past couple of years, you may be looking for additional ways to utilize your windfall marketing dollars. Perhaps you’re at the other end of the spectrum and need some new ideas to make up for some lost revenue. Either way, some of the following ideas will help you.

Co-Op Advertising and Marketing

Co-op advertising refers typically to a manufacturer offering advertising dollars to a retailer in support of selling their products. There are many companies in the firearms and outdoor industry that offer co-op dollars, but not all of them widely broadcast it. Some only offer it to their largest dealers or distributors. It is well worth your time to contact your sales representatives to see if there is any co-op budget available for your business. You should also pay attention to other business advertising that features prominent logos of products that you sell in their advertising. This can be a tip off to available co-op dollars.

One of the easiest ways to increase the power and amount of your marketing dollars is to partner with another business. This business can be in or out of your main focus, and this strategy can work well on both a local and a national level.

Cooperative or co-op marketing is a marketing strategy where brands or organizations partner together to expand their reach. Typically, the companies working with each other have some similarities, such as being in the same industry or having similar audiences.

You’ve probably seen this many times, but may or may not have realized it. Likely the largest and most prominent example of this is the McDonalds Happy Meal. The toys included are often from a popular movie, TV show or book series. McDonalds’ global juggernaut presence and marketing machine adds tremendously to the reach of whoever their partner is.

On a local (and much simpler, but highly non-specific) level is the bulletin board you see in your local cafe or gas station full of local business cards.  Here, you’ll typically find everything from roofers to realtors to beauty salons to local baseball teams.

Maybe you’ve seen advertisements for other local businesses on a restaurant’s menu.

The local bar “co-markets” with the local softball league by sponsoring one of the teams that play in it.

“Money Mailer” advertising has made an entire business of this concept, selling advertising space to multiple local businesses and sending them to every local resident in the same envelope.

Some other great examples:

-Free pizza with tree removal estimate.

-Half-price oil change with every $100 restaurant gift certificate.

-Dinner at a local restaurant up to $25 with every tax return.

Consider sharing the cost of a direct mail campaign by including another business on a postcard, or allowing them to include a letter or item in a mailer you’re sending. Also consider list sharing, where you and a business you’ve partnered with both send advertisements to your respective lists.

Many business owners in the outdoor space may look at this concept and think, “Sure, that works for a beauty parlor or repair shop, but my business is different.”

There’s another huge lesson for you here, and that is that your business is composed of only two things: sales and marketing your business to make more sales. That’s it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber, a restauranteur, a repair shop or a hunting-gear-focused retailer. Your businesses are, at the root, all the same. They simply differ in the products and services that they sell.

A smart businessperson will look at these examples and adapt them to their own business to great success.

Tips for Co-Marketing Success

While the concept of co-marketing seems simple, the execution will be made much easier by making sure you follow some of the following rules of the road.

1. When approaching potential partners, and especially those whom you don’t have an existing relationship with, make sure you let them know right away what’s in it for them. For example, say you went to a local restaurant for your co-marketing project. Offer to buy a large number of gift certificates at a discount in exchange for giving them to your customers with a certain purchase level. Explain that you will be using this promotion in your advertising, benefitting them again by promoting their business with something like, “Buy your gun at Bill’s Outdoors instead of the big box and enjoy dinner at the best steakhouse in Janesville-

The Red Ox.”

2. Set the expectation that you will lead-share all of the customers that take advantage with their contact information in order for them to follow up with an offer or other option of contact, and make sure you follow through. Your strategy won’t work well unless both parties stick to it. While you’re at it, ensure you have a solid partnership by creating a written agreement at the very beginning of your venture. This way, you have something to turn to if any miscommunications take place.

Some things you may want to list in your agreement:

·      Goals

·      Topics

·      Timelines

·      Promotional plans

·      Reporting plans

·      Content and asset ownership (for example, can you use each other’s ads?)

·      Where any agreed content will be shared, hosted or placed

·      Anything off-limits — for example, some businesses might not want to be branded with firearms, but everything else is okay.

3. Remember this rule: The better the offer, the better it will work. An irresistible offer will work the absolute best. This is an offer that makes it almost impossible to do business with anyone but you. A good indicator of an irresistible offer is that it makes you at least a little uncomfortable to offer it. Rather than 5% or 10% off, offer 25% off as a minimum — and no jacking up prices or offering it off of MSRP. Everyone knows that’s not a good deal, and this will actually hurt your campaign and, possibly, your business. The same should go for your partner. I ran a campaign once for a Midwest pizza chain that offered a free, no-strings-attached (except for their name, address, cell phone number, and email) free pizza sent to anyone that had moved into the area. It worked so well that they tried to figure ways to give away even more pizza for free whenever and however they could.

4. Set a meeting to discuss the results.

This can be the most important part of the process, because it provides proof-of-concept to your marketing partners and further deepens your business relationship — something that can lead to even more and better opportunities in the future.

Like many skills, the more you practice co-marketing, the better you will be at finding excellent partners and executing campaigns, as well as finding others that are aligned with your business growth goals and open to new ideas.


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