Welcome to our continuation in marketing a business from scratch and the business example we’ve been using as a childcare center. We’re now only a couple of episodes away from actually launching and opening this up. I believe we’re like well over 20 episodes of step by step on how to get this business off the ground into the place where you have enrollments and revenue before you open the business. 

Because you want to make sure that you’re walking into a business and it’s not the whole mentality of “if you build it and they will come.” You want to say, “if you build it, they will come if they know about you and if they’re aware about you”, and that’s why you’re going to be doing direct mail and digital, flyering neighborhoods, as well as doing videos. 

The topic for today is all about finding strategic partners or joint venture relationships, where you both can kind of promote each other’s business. 

Let me give you a couple of examples of how this can work. The simplest example is for you to look at where the businesses are being positioned and literally just start to go to businesses that are very close. If you’re in a strip mall, for example, or some kind of little shopping center, there’s obviously going to be lots of other businesses. What I like to do is literally bring some kind of goodies—baked goods, for example, and maybe just a little packet of some information about your child care center. You could introduce yourself and say, “We’re right around the corner from you, just wanted to say hello, and we wanted to welcome ourselves to the neighborhood. And if there’s anything that we can ever do to help you, here’s my card.”

That is really a good non-combative, not salesy kind of introduction. It’s just one of those fun ways to kind of get out and just show that you’re in the area. What you’ll find is, even though that is just a really quick initial kind of hello, that dropping something off some kind of baked goods tends to be a good way to someone’s heart or stomach. That small little gesture will end up working quite well for you in the long haul. 

Even if it’s let’s say it’s a dry cleaner, for example. They’re having conversations and going back and forth. They’ve got a kid in there that comes in to pick up the dry cleaning with the parent. The owner might say something like, “oh, have you checked out ABC Academy? They’re right around the corner.” Even though they have no incentive to do that, at least just yet—it’s just those small little things. 

That’s one of my quickest and fastest kind of fun ways to get some different businesses to at least be aware of you. 

Now, from a strategic partner standpoint, what I want you to do is to make a list of all the different businesses that are related to you. That would be businesses sharing a similar demographic of, for example, parents with young kids that were aiming to cross-promote or cross-pollinate in some kind of way. 

You might look at karate centers, pediatric dentistry, swim schools, or like the YMCA if they don’t offer a competing service. 

Now the key is you want to be partnering with and looking for businesses that are complimentary versus competing. Obviously a pediatric dentist’s office is not going to be competing with the childcare center but both of you have the interest of getting more and more parents with kids into your respective businesses. 

What I like to do is try to track down who the owner of that business and the same kind of concept—introduce myself, but usually, I’m introducing myself via a phone call in an email. And I’m saying just something along the lines of, “we’re both in this geographic area, you would love to find more ways that you can drive new customers to their pediatric dentist office.” And I like to frame it 100% focused around them.

And what ends up happening with that is that it’s that whole law of reciprocity where they then kind of feel obligated or they will say something like, “so how can I help you?” Like it’s an awkward conversation if you’re calling and you’re just talking all about how you can help promote them. You would say something like how you’re opening up a new center. You could tell them that you could put some flyers, which is one of my favorite things to do. Then, you’re going to be talking about that grand opening or conducting at least one if not multiple open houses. And then, you can invite them to the open house at no cost. 

What ends up happening is they’re then going to put on their social media that they’re doing a little event at your center inviting people to come to check it out. That’s where it’ll start to give you some of those shadow effects, so to speak, and some of the lagging effects of them promoting you in tandem with you promoting them. 

But again, when you’re on that phone call, rarely is it not going to come up or they’re going to say something like, “Well, how can I help promote you?” And I’d like to just be very, very vague and say, “Well, I’m open, and we have some flyers or business cards. Maybe you could put those on your premise and help promote my center.”

When you start to build that relationship, then you can look at doing things even a little bit more strategically, whether that’s email blast to each of your different lists, for example. You could be doing a webinar and maybe the webinar that you’re promoting to the parents is all about good health, for example. Or perhaps, the dental office is going to be doing a webinar where they bring you on and they’re talking about activities to do over the summer, for example. 

The key is just starting to figure out who are those similar businesses that you’re not competing with directly, that already have the audience that you want. I want you to sell it to them that even if you’re a new business, you mean business and you’re aggressively marketing. You can tell them about all the different marketing that you’re doing—just keep it open and transparent. And you don’t want to say, “Oh, I’ve got an email list of 10,000 parents when you probably don’t.” But then just start to find some commonalities of how you can promote each other. That really varies based on the way that the business is communicating to the families that they’re already working with. 

They might favor events. Maybe you could come to one of the karate open houses, and then you would reciprocate and invite them to your open house, or whether again, it’s emails, webinars, or maybe it’s doing some kind of strategic partnership via direct mail, for example. 

As you start to get creative and get to know the other vendor on the other side, you can again advance those relationships. Maybe anyone that enrolls in your center gets 20% off the karate services, or they’re getting a free uniform and two free months versus paying for the uniform and one free month. 

You want to look at how else can you then continue to promote each other and continue to build that bond, but it starts with just doing something simple, just doing something simple. My favorite way is again to go in and introduce yourself and give some kind of baked goods and make them very non-salesy, and then you can follow up thereafter. Or the second one, again, is to find complementary businesses and just start to have some conversations, but the way that you get in the door with them is to phrase the conversation that you’d love to find some ways to help them. 

People are more concerned about how you can help them versus how they can help you. But when you start to have that conversation, it’ll naturally start to go in the path of being more reciprocal. It’s a great tactic to use there’s little to no cost, typically zero investment in your partner—it’s a great way to grow a new business. 

Make sure you tune back in here tomorrow for the next episode in continuation. 

Get out there, make a change, and take some action.