Community over competition is a truly wonderful phrase to live by as an entrepreneur, and there are so many more where that came from – we rise by lifting others, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, support your local girl gang… Whatever your buzzwords of choice, it is a widely acknowledged concept that working WITH other businesses instead of AGAINST them will not only feel fantastic, but also bring your business a whole heap of additional amazing benefits. In this blog post I am hashing out the 10 very best ways that you can collaborate with other businesses and how it will help you to grow in so many glorious ways!
Just before we get started, here are a couple of questions I would always ask yourself before you begin to collaborate with other businesses…
- Does this business have the same target market as mine?
- Is this collaboration going to be a win win for both parties?
- Am I confident that they will hold up their half of the deal?
Providing you have answered a solid YES to all of those questions – you are good to go!
1. PRODUCT SWAP
In my opinion this is the easiest way to collaborate with another business! If you have your eye on an item from another SBO that you think coordinates with your branding, would appeal to your target market and will look amazing in your images and styling, reach out to them and see if they would be interested in gifting you that item in exchange for one of yours (at similar monetary value). Include these items in both of your social media channels or website content and make sure to talk about them in your captions or blogs, so people know how to get their hands on the other persons goodies!
2. SKILL SHARE
Similar to a product swap, but this time we’re focusing on more service based businesses. Maybe you need a new website, some new headshots or a lesson on how to use your accounting software? See if you can arrange a mutually beneficial skill share session with another freelancer or service based business that specialises in the area that you need help with. Have a think about what services you can offer them in exchange for their help and time that would provide equal value to their business or to them personally… This collaboration method is a fantastic money saver and can be a lot more fun than trying to solve your challenges solo, whatever they may be!
3. SHARE SPACE
Renting space can be a pretty hefty investment for a small business or freelancer, so why not split the costs with another person? Whether it’s sharing office space, a store front, a salon, a workshop, a studio, a market stall or a trade show stand – you will save yourself a lot of money plus benefit massively from the shared exposure and referrals you will bring to each other. Imagine if a hairdresser, nail artist and eyebrow extraordinaire all shared the same salon – their target market would be exactly the same so their business could triple from referrals to one another.
4. JOINT PROMOTION
This category covers a whole range of potential collaborations, depending on whichever method suits you and your business the most. If you are a product based business, you could exchange business cards and include them in each others packaging. Or if you are an online business, you could exchange logos and feature them on each others websites. Perhaps if you have a store front you could exchange flyers with another store in your local area. And if you are a service based business you could offer referrals to other businesses if a client requires a service that falls outside your remit, or if you are at full capacity. Exposure, exposure, exposure!
5. GIVEAWAYS & COMPETITIONS
Quick disclaimer – I am not a fan of huge loop cash giveaways on Instagram as I think they can sometimes result in creating an artificial audience that won’t convert to paying customers or won’t fall into your target market, as they may just be interested in winning cash and not necessarily your products or brand. Also, the posts that are required to partake in these can be really spammy and turn off your organic followers.
Having said that, running giveaways and competitions can also be a fantastic way to grow your business IF they promote your products and brand or they connect with your target market in an authentic way. My favourite way to use this method effectively is to team up with 1-5 other businesses and create an EPIC prize by each contributing one of your products or services to the mix. Then create an on-brand, high quality image featuring your items for you all to share on Instagram in a simple competition that requires your followers to like the post, tag a couple of friends in the comments and follow all the accounts involved in the giveaway. Pick a random winner at the end of the competition and voila! Hello increased audience, stronger relationships with your fellow SBOs and one very happy prize winner!
6. JOINT PHOTOSHOOTS
We all know that high quality photos are key to a successful and thriving business, but photographers, shoot locations, studios and models can often be a big hit for a small business owners budget, sooo… why not collaborate with another business and share the costs! This works brilliantly for both service based businesses that are after new headshots or stock images as well as product based businesses that are shooting new items. If you can combine both of your products into the same shots, you will also be featured in your fellow collaborators images and vice versa – therefore benefitting from additional shared exposure to each others audiences.
7. STOCK EACH OTHERS ITEMS
If you have a brick and mortar store, cafe or shop front – this ones for you! This method is nice and straight forward as it just requires two businesses to stock each others items in their respective stores and benefit from the additional sales. For example a florist could stock their fresh flowers in a candle shop and vice versa. Simples.
8. INTERVIEWS & FEATURES
If you have a blog, a vlog, a podcast, a magazine, or a social media channel, then an excellent way for you to collaborate with another business is by inviting them to do a feature, Q&A session or interview on your platform that is going to bring value and inspiration to your audience. Even if the other business doesn’t have a platform to reciprocate the gesture, the value and exposure they bring to your own channels will most likely be enough to make this a win win for both parties anyway.
9. RUN AN EVENT TOGETHER
This is on the larger side of the collaboration scale and will need a fair bit more organisation and commitment from all parties involved, but it is totally worth it as it can really sky rocket your business. Wedding fairs are perfect examples of these, they are a great opportunity for a variety of vendors to collaborate together and benefit from a huge shared target market. If you are a service based business, have a think about other freelancers you can collaborate with to create an awesome workshop or up-skilling event for your audiences.
10. CO-BRAND A NEW PRODUCT
Again this juicy collaboration technique is a pretty big one that will typically require an investment from both parties, especially if you are a product based business. I saw a beautiful example of this recently where an artist collaborated with a wallpaper company to create a new limited edition wallpaper design. The wallpaper business now has a gorgeous new product plus an increase in followers and sales as a result of the exposure that the artist brought to them. The artist also benefits from a boost in exposure from the wallpaper business, plus would most likely receive payment for the artwork they provided. If you are a service based business, have a think about another freelancer that you can collaborate with to create a new e-book, template or course. If you are interested in this option and need some more guidance, check out the amazing marketing company Collabosaurus.
And there you have it! 10 wonderful ways to collaborate with other businesses to help you grow your audience, build your networks, save you money and increase your sales!
As always if you have any questions, please get in touch and remember to keep this mantra at the forefront of your mind! Pin it, share it, stick it on your wall.