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Developing Partnerships – You’re Not Alone


Intro by Skip Cohen

In every marketing presentation/workshop, I’ve ever taught, I’ve talked about the importance of partnerships. Partnerships help you extend your reach and reduce your cost of marketing.

For example, a Mother’s Day direct mail postcard from Marathon targeting portrait clients could easily partner with a florist and restaurant. The cost would be split three ways, reducing your cost to a third of what it would be by yourself. Plus, all three partners in the mailing become ambassadors for each other’s products. And, even better is if the photography used in the card for all three entities is yours!

Then there are cross-promotions with other vendors. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer develop a relationship with a florist, so you promote each other’s products/services. The list goes on and on.

In this post from the Walden Coaching archives, Beverly hits on a great way to tie in some local partners all with the same target – MOM. Remember women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer!

by Beverly Walden

Years ago when we were trying to build our business, we solicited bunches of area stores to see if they would put up a display of our work (quantity not quality). Since then, we have limited our displays to just a few places. Why? We feel this strengthens the commitment we have with these hand-picked retailers as they are exclusive with us and we are exclusive with them…we are partners!

When we decide to approach a business for a partner, we want to be prepared. We always ask them two questions. The first question is, “What can I do for you?” and the second question is, “What can I do with you?” We always put them first! Be prepared and know what you are willing to do for them before you go.

What can I do for you…maybe a family portrait or their children’s portrait that they can display in their store for a year and then take home. It may be doing candids of an event they are having or designing and printing Gift Certificates or custom clothing tags. It may be putting their literature in your place of business or taking them treats every few weeks-whatever fits them and makes them feel special is what you should do.

What can I do with you…drawings at certain times of the year are fun and exciting for both, fashion shows at your business (with you as the paparazzi of course), attending their children’s birthday parties…again, let your imagination take you away.

Here are some places we have found successful, but more than the place, realize it’s the person who owns the place that is the key. Are they really sold on you so much that they speak of you to their clients all the time? The best owners for us are the ones who aren’t shy or quiet…they are opinionated, sometimes “loud” and they are great salespeople!

*Privately owned children’s clothing stores are the best as their clients are great prospects for us with young children as our focus.

*Boutiques selling women’s clothing attract the client with the right income, but it is more hit and miss as to whether they have children the right age.

*Pediatric, dentist or OB/GYN offices are great image builders, but we now only display in the “boutique” offices that are our clients’ businesses. We feel that since they have “experienced” a session and how we operate, they can be a better “mouth-piece” for us.

*Our mall has the most exposure as it is a regional mall, drawing from 4+ hours away. However, we can’t guarantee that everyone who picks up a card there is a qualified client, but it is great for getting our work seen.

In a nutshell, look for the stores that have the clients you would like to have as yours. For us, we look for places that cater to moms with small children and that are exclusive in our community. Be as generous as you can without taking a hit! Know what you can do money-wise or sample-wise beforehand and ease into the relationship.

In this day and age, we all need more word of mouth to get people through our doors. Partners can help fulfill that.