As marketers, we focus most of our time on building relationships with our customers, since they of course are the lifeblood of our business (and our jobs).
Yet be sure that you take a good, long look at potential partnerships that ultimately could bring you closer to those customer relationships you need. We sometimes get so consumed with the day-to-day requirements of finding and keeping customers thorugh traditional marketing, that we lose sight of the fact that in today’s media-cluttered marketing environment, a different (and/or subtle) approach may work better in some cases.
A great example of a recent high-profile partnership that illustrates this approach is New York Times and LinkedIn forming a content partnership (also highlighted on Mashable). Both entities have a common interest in a specific target, and are leveraging each other’s customer networks to promote awareness and ultimately cross-over.
Clearly this brilliant partnership came to fruition after strategic discussion about how it would be successful for both parties. And both parties had to be knowledgeable about the other one’s services and value proposition. So the moral is: are you making time to do this? Are you making the time to think creatively about how to find customers, investigate the market landscape, and consider possible partnerships? Do you know of any places where people who fit your customer profile congregate and why they do it there? In this age of social media and media fragmentation, many times word more effectively spreads through marketing tactics outside of the norm. Let’s call it marketing through relevance instead of marketing through interuption (interrupting a TV program with an ad, interupting a person’s day with direct mail or email, etc.).
Make sure you budget some time to do think about partnerships, because it may take time to find potential partners, create a scenario that works for all involved, and it may take even more time to put the pieces in place before you charge ahead.