For those who have read my previous posts, it is evident that I strongly advocate for learning direct response advertising as a crucial skill for a business growing strategy, whether it be location independent or not. The ability to invest wisely in advertising, turning a small amount into a much larger revenue, is vital for business growth and long-term achievements.
However, I understand that starting out can be daunting and risky. The fear of losing money on advertising campaigns can discourage aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those with limited budgets.
While it is important to develop resilience and embrace risk as an entrepreneur, it is equally important to avoid taking risks that are beyond your capabilities.
Strategic and calculated risks are necessary, but they should also be minimized. Taking reckless risks due to overconfidence can lead to failure before you even begin. The key is to find a balance between risk and reward, ensuring that when risks are taken, the potential rewards are heavily in your favour.
Get Clients Without Losing Money
Thankfully, there is a method for generating clients that eliminates the risk of spending money on ineffective ads: strategic partnerships.
Affiliates, also known as resellers or white-label partners for B2B services, are individuals or businesses who sell online products on a commission basis. With strategic partnerships and resellers, other businesses refer clients to you and either receive a fee, a commission, or a mutual referral agreement. They essentially close the deal or provide leads, and then transfer the client to you for direct handling.
On the other hand, white-label partners put their own branding on your service and directly interact with clients as the seller. They handle customer service and other aspects while you handle the service delivery. This arrangement is beneficial for entrepreneurs who prefer less client-facing interaction, although the profit margins may be slightly lower compared to direct client handling.
Regardless of the model used, the goal remains the same: incentivizing other businesses with complementary services to sell your services on your behalf for a commission or fee. You only pay them when they successfully generate business for you. Having one or two great partners like this can be a valuable source of consistent leads and sales. It’s a win-win situation as you help them add a new income stream to their business while offering their clients an upsell opportunity, and you receive a steady flow of new business without actively seeking it out.
When I started my SEO business, my strategy focused on identifying businesses that would be interested in purchasing my services and potentially reselling them to their own clients. This approach is effective for anyone venturing into a new business-to-business endeavour.
Now, the question is: how do you find these strategic partners?
Find Strategic Business Partners
When it comes to finding partners to help grow your client base, there are several key elements to consider. Firstly, it’s important to define exactly what you’re looking for in a partner. This includes understanding the ideal client for your product or service, as well as profiling the customers of potential partners. By understanding how your service complements what they are already selling, you can effectively pitch the benefits to both the partner and their customers.
To begin your search for partners, it can be helpful to set up a Partners/Affiliates page on your website. This page should include a pitch and essential details about your partnership program, with a clear call to action for interested parties to sign up or contact you for more information. This page can also serve as a traffic generator and landing page for advertising, as well as a quick reference for anyone seeking additional information. Additionally, it can act as a system for qualifying and filtering partnership inquiries.
In order to build a targeted outreach list, start by identifying potential partner contacts based on your ideal partner profile. Take the time to find the names, emails, and phone numbers of the individual people you need to contact at each company. Avoid sending generic form emails through the company contact form and instead make an effort to engage on a personal level.
Consider advertising for partners through platforms such as Google ads, Facebook ads, or other advertising channels. By directing traffic to your partnership landing page, you can attract potential partners who are interested in learning more about your program.
Don’t underestimate the power of your existing network. If you already have partners, ask them to introduce you to others who may be a good fit. Utilizing your existing connections is a simple and effective way to find people who align with the partner profile you are seeking. If you don’t currently have partners, consider reaching out to your clients or even starting with friends, family, and past colleagues to begin building your network.
Find Complementary Services
To create an effective targeted outreach list, it is important to consider the purchasing decisions that clients make before ordering your specific service. This involves understanding what other services or products clients typically purchase before they buy from you. For example, if you sell car seat covers, it is unlikely that someone without a car would be interested in buying them. Additionally, it is helpful to determine what else clients may be spending their money on at the same time. For instance, if you offer advertising on Google, clients may also be interested in social media advertising.
Choosing the right types of businesses to partner with is the first step in targeting. It is crucial to identify partners who are likely to have clients who are qualified to buy your services. For example, if you are looking for $2000/month SEO clients, they are unlikely to come from partners who sell web designs for $500 each. Instead, they are more likely to come from a bespoke design and development firm charging $20,000 per website build. However, this larger firm will also have a wider selection of potential partners from your pool of competitors.
Let’s take an SEO business as an example. To buy website optimization services, clients first need to have a website. This makes web designers and developers obvious choices as potential partners. Other options include graphic designers, logo designers, marketing consultants, branding experts, and anyone who might be employed by one of your potential clients earlier in the timeline before they consider SEO options. Ideally, you want to be the recommendation they receive before they even start actively looking for your services, giving you a competitive advantage.
It is important to note that many web development companies also offer SEO services. While they may initially seem like competitors, they often have limited capabilities compared to your business. They may only offer on-page SEO setup and cannot provide the ongoing monthly services required for a retainer. Therefore, these companies can actually become perfect partners as they already have active buyers who have spent money on initial SEO setups. By outsourcing the ongoing work beyond their capabilities to your business, they can develop recurring monthly revenue streams.
Attract Strategic Partners
When it comes to finding potential partners, it’s not enough to simply convince them to collaborate with you. The partners you truly desire, who have reputable client lists and the trust of their clients, have many options when it comes to choosing who to partner with. It’s likely that they have already received numerous pitches from other SEO companies before you reach out to them.
In order to stand out, it’s crucial that you demonstrate your expertise and excellence in your field. Take a look at your competition as well as other businesses vying for referral arrangements and partnerships with major players in complementary markets. Be honest with yourself and evaluate whether you appear to be the best choice for a partnership. Identify your weaknesses and find ways to turn them into strengths. For example, if you are smaller than your competitors, highlight the benefits of personal service and close oversight of campaigns.
When it comes to commissions, be generous within the limitations of your product or service margins. While the cost-per-acquisition may be higher compared to other advertising methods, partnering with others provides a relatively risk-free opportunity to acquire clients. It is often worth paying a premium to eliminate the risk of losing money, especially considering the potential size and quality of projects that a strong partner can bring your way.
Testimonials are not only important for potential clients but also for potential partners. Having a handful of solid testimonials on hand demonstrates your ability to deliver results and can sway partners to collaborate with you.
Ensure that your landing page and sales skills are optimized to convert traffic and leads. Partners and affiliates want to be confident that the clients they send your way will not be wasted due to poor conversion rates or lacking sales skills. Professionalism is key when pitching partners, so make sure your closing skills, proposals, and pitching techniques are well-honed.
Highlight the dual value-add that partnering with you brings. Partners are not just interested in adding an extra revenue stream to their business, but also in enhancing their ability to serve their clients, improving customer loyalty, and increasing lifetime customer value. Emphasize to potential partners that you will not only deliver on the revenue front but also enhance their brand and expand their offerings.
When crafting your pitch, it is crucial to consider how it benefits your potential partner. Avoid using a generic email that solely focuses on your own needs, such as “I’m a web developer in need of work, so help me out.” Instead, personalize your outreach by demonstrating an understanding of their business and how you can assist them in achieving their goals, as well as their clients’ goals. Keep your pitch concise, personalized, and focused on what they stand to gain. Remember, they are not initially concerned with what you gain from the partnership. Only by showing them the potential usefulness of your proposal can you capture their interest and persuade them to consider partnering with you.
Running Referral Program
When it comes to organizing your referral or white-label system, there is no need to make it more complicated than necessary. Depending on your needs, you can choose to automate certain aspects of the process. There are various ready-made affiliate tracking systems available, but if you only have a few key strategic partnerships to manage, you may find them unnecessary.
In my case, I deal with a small number of high-value partners, so I don’t rely on an automated affiliate tracking system. Instead, I manually bill clients and pay each partner their commission once the payment is received.
If you’re dealing with a low volume of referrals, manual tracking like this is sufficient. However, if you need to handle a larger number of affiliates or partners and sell higher quantities, automation becomes essential to ensure an efficient system.
We would love to hear about your experiences with forming and nurturing strategic partnerships to grow your business. Please share any tips or techniques that have worked for you in the past by leaving a comment below.