"strategic alliances"Strategic Alliances are formal relationships between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon goals or to meet a critical business need while remaining independent organizations. (source: Wikipedia).

A strategic alliance is based on an arrangement between two companies to combine resource that will help both gain a greater share of the market. They are often formed when one business alone is unable to fill the gap in serving the needs of the marketplace. Forming strategic alliances to market your small business can save time and boost productivity. It enables companies to be more efficient and concentrate on the core strengths in developing their products and services. These alliances can be formal (partnership agreement is put in writing) or informal (a handshake is all that is necessary to “seal the deal”).

More and more competition in the marketplace and a challenging economy are making it necessary for small businesses to find creative ways to connect with customers and prospects, to enhance brand identity and attract top-notch employees. In order to enhance competitiveness in today’s marketplace, more and more companies are forming strategic alliances. Strategic alliances can maximize your position in the marketplace. When you learn how to leverage partnerships you increase your market share. It is also a very smart way to grow a small business.

“Cross promoting with other small businesses can give you a significant advantage over the competition, with many benefits and cost savings.”  Heidi Richards Mooney

There are several ways you can collaborate with another small businesses to increase revenue, traffic, and even expertise and to market your small business which ultimately will increase the value to the end-user (customer).

Finding the Right strategic Partners

Collaborate with a well-known company – Most small businesses benefit from partnerships that add value, prestige, and greater credibility to their own endeavors. Associating with a well-known business can give your company instant credibility and exposure. It’s not always about the bottom line.

Collaborate with Your Best Customers – Look at the company or companies who do the most business with yours. Work with them to solidify the relationship by offering them more than just good products and service. Make it nearly impossible for them to consider going anywhere else. Continually asking them why they do business with you and why they stay are the best ways to keep them.

Collaborate with the Nonprofit Community – Joining forces with non-profits can increase your circle of influence and your visibility in the community.

Collaborate with a Former Employer – You offer a product or service the former employer needs and provide it to them. You become a subcontractor or vendor to them. One of my dear friends worked for a fast-food company as their corporate trainer. When she decided to go into business for herself, they hired her to continue to provide training to their employees for several years. As her first major contract, the collaboration they created started her company on the road to success, and she still travels and does work for them.

In Part 2, I will talk about How to Collaborate with the Competition and Related Businesses to Promote Your Products and Services.