In a normal year, partnering with another business to help acquire new customers is a great idea.
However, this isn’t a normal year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives, including the way that we shop and buy. That means that businesses need to find creative ways to reach new customers. That could make partnering with another business an even more attractive option.
With this in mind, now might be the time to reach out to other businesses to have these strategic partnerships in place before the holiday shopping season begins.
Advice from Express Text
In a blog post written in August of 2019, Express Text gave several good marketing tips to small businesses.
The things that they suggested included utilizing SEO, social media marketing, customer engagement, contests, paid search advertising, and SMS marketing.
In the blog post, they also suggest creating strategic partnerships to increase sales.
As they write in the post, “No one can do everything by themselves. Sooner or later you will need help and teaming up with another business that is in the same field can help create a symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit greatly.”
“Creating strategic partnerships has many advantages while [it] doesn’t require as much work on your part,” the author of the post writes. “Your business is able to receive twice as much notice and partnering with an industry-relevant business will also introduce you to an entirely new audience that is looking for something in your area of specialties.”
They give an example of a car mechanic partnering with a car dealership to get access to an audience that might otherwise be out of reach. They also suggest offering discounts or special pricing to the people who were referred to the business in order to help convert them into paying customers.
This is great advice. And, as mentioned, it was given before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given the expected changes in the holiday shopping season, small businesses might want to look at all the marketing suggestions that ExpressText recommended in their post, including digital marketing and strategic partnerships.
How the Holiday Shopping Season Will Be Different in 2020
A recent study conducted by Radial, the leader in omnichannel commerce technology and operations, found that consumers in the United States plan to spend about the same amount during the 2020 holiday season as they did in 2019. However, while the press release does mention that the amount consumers plan to spend will be about the same, the way that they plan to shop will be different this year.
According to the press release, “60% of consumers plan to shop less in-store this season due to fear of COVID-19 exposure. While there is still an appetite for in-store shopping, safety concerns and deeper consumer familiarity with online ordering indicates that ecommerce will certainly see higher activity than in previous years.”
This indicates that businesses that relied heavily on in-store foot traffic need to up their ecommerce game and they need to make in-store shopping safe for customers. They also are going to need to find alternative ways to reach new customers.
Google reported similar findings in a recent blog post.
According to a post on the Think with Google blog, “…more than a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in store for Black Friday say they won’t this year. And half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this year.”
The post also highlights the fact that 47% of people who are planning to shop this holiday season say that they will use the buy online, pick up in store/curbside pickup option.
And, these aren’t the only changes in the way that consumers plan to shop and buy during the upcoming holiday season.
As the press release states, “Given that the growing customer preference for shopping locally will likely continue into the holidays and beyond, understanding local buying intent will be paramount – especially since 66% of shoppers said they plan to shop more at local small businesses.”
This means that there’s going to be opportunities for small business to cash in this holiday season.
While digital marketing is one of the most valuable ways to reach your potential customers, and should be utilized by businesses of all sizes, small businesses should explore all the options that are available to them.
As the Express Text post mentioned above suggests, small businesses might want to look for ways to create strategic partnerships with other businesses in order to reach new customers.
Benefits of Strategic Partnerships for Small Businesses
There are many articles out there that list the benefits and potential pitfalls of creating strategic partnerships that can be found with a simple Google search.
For example, a post on the business.com website lists access to new customers, opportunities to reach new markets, added value for previous customers, increased brand awareness, and increases in brand trust as some of the benefits.
A post on the Powerlinx website lists similar things. Their list includes acquiring new customers, increasing revenue, expanding geographic reach, extending product lines, accessing new technologies and intellectual property, and sharing resources as some of the benefits of strategic partnerships.
From a small business standpoint, all are important.
However, given the increased strain on the bottom-line as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, just the fact that you can reach new customers and lower costs by sharing resources is enough for me to recommend that small businesses consider adding strategic partnerships to their marketing mix, particularly during a time when shopping behavior is changing and reaching new customers is more important than ever.
With this in mind, now is the time to reach out to other businesses so that you can work together to create some wins this holiday season.