Most of my clients crave to partner up with other entrepreneurs to help elevate their business and bring more fun & connection. However, I continually hear stories of failed attempts that went nowhere and wasted a lot of time, energy and money. That is why I am passionate about teaching the best practices of creating savvy strategic alliances.
In my last article – which was the first in a series on Strategic Alliances (aka “JV Partnerships”), I defined what a Strategic Alliance is*, described the 6 primary types of Strategic Alliances that coaches and “coach-like” entrepreneurs most benefit from, and detailed what the first type, Referral Partner, is and how it can be structured. If you missed that article, make sure to go back and read it to get up to speed.
The second type of Strategic Alliance is a Promotional Partner. A Promotional Partnership is when one party promotes products or services on behalf of the other partner, and possibly vice versa. These can include having an affiliate or revenue share agreement connected to the promotion. All in all, the most important aspect of any partnership is that it feels mutually beneficial and that it feels like what I call an equal energy exchange.
Oftentimes people take the approach of “I’ll promote this for you if you promote this for me.” This can appear to create an equal energy exchange, but not necessarily. As an example, if someone promotes for you and their reach is 100 people, and you promote for them to 2000 people, that may not feel equal. Equal is not “tit for tat”, it is about a feeling of mutual benefit and support with total enthusiasm and solid, mutual results.
Here’s another example – if you REALLY want the word to go out about your upcoming program launch, you may be tempted to devise a “tit for tat” promotional agreement with someone else even if you really don’t want to promote the other person or don’t fully believe in them. As a short term strategy, this may feel effective, but I’ve continually seen this backfire. You should only commit to promoting for others when you are fully aligned and excited about what they are doing. If you aren’t, your followers won’t be either, and they might start to tune you out.
Along these lines, I’ve seen colleagues do big launches where 15 other entrepreneurs promoted for them and then expected my colleague to promote them in exchange. To stay in integrity, they mailed out “solo emails” for 15 people in a few month span, tilting their ratio of content:promotion emails dramatically, leading to list fatigue, poor open rates and a lot of unsubscribes. Best intentions but a poor strategy that ultimately compromised their businesses.
When I make the decision to promote someone, I always start with “do I want to support this person?” Next I ask “Am I excited and aligned with what they are promoting?” and thirdly “Will my audience appreciate and be excited about this, too?” At the end of the day, if you want to have an engaged following, you need to make your promotional choices wisely. Make sure you are serving them in your choice.
Sometimes it will feel mutually beneficial to promote someone’s work simply because you know your audience will really respond to what that partner has to offer. As an example, I did a free interactive teleseminar with Doug Foresta on Podcasting a few months back because I think his work is impeccable and I love podcasting as a business development strategy for coaches. Yes, some people also signed up for his program (and loved it), but he also gave away a ton of great DIY strategies to creating a podcast on your own. That is a triple win – win for your audience, win for the partner, and win for you. In the end, I didn’t profit much from the webinar financially, but the invisible currency it created with my audience and with Doug made it very worthwhile to me.
When someone is promoting a group program, product or class, often they offer a 30-50% affiliate fee (revenue share). Sometimes for my private clients, I will pass this savings on if it’s a program I really want to encourage them to take, especially if it will improve their overall results with me. Other times I forgo an affiliate fee in exchange for some sort of support from my strategic alliance. I also never use money as my primary motivator, I use the “equal energy exchange” as my motivation, which I’ve learned really does bring prosperity to me, my alliances and my clients.
If one or the other of you are offering 1:1 coaching packages, typically there is not a revenue share or it’s small – no more than 10% (the same is true for referral partnerships, by the way). In group programs, a facilitator’s time is leveraged. Adding new people in the program takes little time & energy. With a 1:1 model, each additional client takes the same amount of time & energy so most alliances will agree that taking more than a 10% referral fee would affect the coach’s profitability.
Lastly, if you don’t have anything to promote, that doesn’t mean you can’t find an equal energy exchange by promoting other people’s work. I haven’t asked anyone to promote anything for me since March, as my marketing strategy is mostly focused on speaking events this Summer and Fall. But I have chosen to promote people for other reasons and it feels good when I do. Sometimes this looks like them coming to my Entrepreneurial Edge Program as a speaker or providing me some consulting time to help me move forward with an initiative.
I am also very discerning about sending out “solo” promotional emails. I will gladly include partners in my newsletter (where my clients are getting solid content, too) or on Social Media but it is extremely rare (a few times a year) where I will send out a solo promotional email to my followers promoting another person’s work.
Before you take on promotional partners, it is important to get clear about your philosophy on your own list engagement. You want to think through your content to promotion ratio and what type of relationship you want to have with your email list and social media followers. For me, my objective is maximum engagement, as I have found that it has a direct correlation between my list engagement and prospect flow from my followers. What is your list management philosophy? What are your primary and secondary objectives with your email and Social Media strategies?
If you happen to be in the Bay Area, I’m doing a cool workshop on Savvy Strategic Alliances at the ICF Bay Area Chapter on Sept 7th. It is also available by webcast, and all for free. To learn more, go to http://sfbayareacoaches.org/
As always, I would love to hear your feedback, questions and comments!
*A Strategic Alliance is a mutual beneficial relationship with formal agreements in place that enhances the growth and prosperity of your businesses.