How to Grow your Product Business with Collaborations
As small business owners, we’ve likely all heard of “Community Over Competition,” the official entrepreneurial motto of the Rising Tide brand. Today we are proving this anthem true by looking at how we can link arms and help each other grow through collaborating with other small business owners.
Small business collaborations are a partnership between two or more business owners coming together to create shared value that benefits each brand’s audience. Collaborating with other small business owners is a great way to borrow someone else’s audience that aligns with yours, and to share your audience with them.
Collaborating with other business owners, simplified
Collaborating with other business owners, even if they might be a direct or indirect competitor, is not just a way to live out community over competition.
Collaborating strategically helps you:
Increase brand awareness
Gain new customers and leads
Build awareness and traffic prior to an upcoming launch
Reach new audience members at a beneficial cost
Build SEO from backlinks and traffic
Test out new product ideas
Try new marketing campaigns you’re thinking about
Grow an audience on a new platform
Collaborations are an amazing tool to grow your audience, customer base and business!
How to collaborate with other small business owners
Your community and past, present and future customers are precious. Meaning, we have to be incredibly selective about the types of collaborations we pursue and what we allow into our community.
As caretakers of our brand and community members, we are the filter and protector of the messages and influences we allow to pair with ours. Yes, collaborations are a great way to share and expand your audiences, but this is not the only goal. We have to find collaborators that sit at the intersection of shared community and aligned values.
How do we do that? Here are some of my best tips to selecting and planning the best types of collaborations for your business:
Have a selection process.. You want to make sure it’s going to get you in front of the right audience and aligning with the right messages. Have a series of questions you walk every potential collaboration opportunity through, like:
What do I know about this small business owner? Would I be proud to share their message with my community?
Do their core values align with my core values?
What do I admire about the way they serve their own community?
Will their message bless and resonate with my own audience?
Do I trust their influence?
Are there any red flags I should look deeper into?
Am I excited for my community to meet this person? Am I excited for our communities to connect? Am I excited to influence their community?
Think like your customer. What brands are they already engaging with? What do they want more of?
Search for parallel audiences. Look to indirect competitorsor a business that sells different products to your same customer avatar.
What types of collaborations are there?
Now, let’s talk about types of collaborations! These are my favorite ways to partner with other business owners, podcasters, and brands:
Cross promotions. Cross promotions are easy collaboration opportunities - you’re simply sharing and talking about each others’ products with your respective communities. These are free, easy to do, mutually beneficial, and don’t require prep or work on your end. Make an arrangement with the other business owner and agree on how you will cross promote and how often.
Instagram takeovers and joint live video.These are simple and effective. Plus, they add a level of interaction between you, the other business owner, and your shared audiences. Have fun with these, and your communities will, too!
Link sharing. Similar to cross promotions, link sharing is simple. You can agree to share each others’ links in your email newsletters and on social media.
Feature blogs. Blogging is a really great avenue for collaboration. You can do a “Favorite Things” round-up post or write guest posts for each others’ blogs. This is a great option for boosting your SEO, too!
Look local! Look for places that promote businesses locally, like your area’s chamber of commerce or Facebook groups that promote businesses.
Partnerships. A little more official here, you would be selling their product alongside your product, or they would be selling you product.
Bundles. You can create collaboration bundles, like a Mother’s Day bundle with a candle and a necklace. These are great for new product launches and holiday/seasonal launches.
Partner with a service provider. You can add your product to the offer of a service provider. For example, you can partner with a holistic health provider and offer a candle to include in their 30-day Self Care Program.
Wholesale Opportunities. Look locally, with other shop owners online, and with service providers to find opportunities to sell your products at wholesale.
Add complimentary products to your shop from other small businesses. For example, if you’re a jewelry company you can offer a handmade luxury ring box designed by a local artisan (one of my clients uses it as an upsell offer).
Offer your products as complimentary upgrades to other small business owners. This is similar to the situation above, but reversed. You can set up your products to be available for wholesale like on Faire.
Look for subscriptions boxes where your product fits. Look on Cratejoy, for example. They have a marketplace where you can look for boxes that align with your business and vice versa.
And lastly, when pitching collaborations, keep these things in mind (and this is coming from someone who gets a lot of pitches for the podcast and other collabs!):
Make sure the audience aligns. I like to make sure a collab is always going to benefit both parties, and if I feel like it will benefit one more than the other I say so.
Check out their website and look for information about how the biz owner likes to be pitched. I hate it when businesses that want to collaborate fill out my inquiry form. I have an application for the podcast and an email address for others. So do your research!
Start with people you already have a relationship with. They will be excited you asked, it builds your confidence and you get experience on what works and what doesn’t!
What collaboration ideas are you excited to pursue?