Service 6: Marketing and Trading Alliances - Marketing my Service - Marketing Ideas for Service Businesses

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Service 6: Marketing and Trading Alliances

5. Our offer for you

Marketing & Trading Alliances

Optional add-on to the Marketing Training Day

Reciprocal Links and Trading Alliances

Here you are looking for businesses whose existing marketing energy and spend could usefully help your business, servicing similar end-users, at no cost and to the mutual benefit of both businesses.

This is quite difficult to do in practice, due to the inertia of businesses generally, who are not marketing orientated!

  • This is all about working together with cross-referrals, or even, marketing together

  • You may together create a combined service that offers more to the customer than either businesses's service on its own

  • You may create reciprocal website links and joint marketing initiatives as a starting point.

  • You may even a new joint website or website page promoting a package or combination of services jointly - this is an advanced trading alliance or trading partnership. See one such Example where we are benefiting a DJ (he is getting half his bookings from us, as his bookings chart shows) while we are offering wedding clients an incentive to take the Evening Buffet for higher numbers. (We both gain from this arrangement, especially the DJ!)

In our case, in the weddings business, we form trading alliances with some of our wedding suppliers. However as the Wedding Venue is the first supplier a Couple selects, we are unable to obtain referrals from wedding suppliers further down the line, as the venue gets chosen first. (We did try referrals from Jewellers, as wedding rings do predate the wedding venue decision). If you are further down the 'supply chain', you may get referrals from suppliers who are selected ahead of you.

To really make this work you are looking for a business which can incorporate some aspect of your service within theirs, or vice versa, to your mutual benefit.

In the Chem-Dry example, Chem-Dry set up an arrangement with insurance companies to clean the carpets of private householders who made an insurance claim following a fire, flood or some other damage to their carpets. Eventually 90% of Chem-Dry's carpet cleaning business came from the insurance sector.

A cleaning agency would similarly seek trading alliances with estate and letting agents, to pick up tenancy change-over cleans.

Our Wedding DJ had this set up for him by us, and his service is now incorporated within an Evening Entertainment Package.

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This is not a case merely of having links to each other on a website. More it is a case of pooling your marketing resources and skills to work together in promoting your businesses as one comprehensive package service to customers.

In our cleaning business for example I would like to partner with Oven Cleaning services, Window Cleaning services, Gardening Services, Carpet Cleaning services etc so I can offer domestic cleaning to clients of these service companies and they in turn can offer their services to my clients.

When offering the services of another company to your clients, you cannot under the Data Protection Act divulge your clients' names and addresses to a related service provider and simply send out each other's details - by snail mail in days of old or by email before the GDPR. Instead you will need to incorporate some elements of their service on your website to create 'a package' in return for a similar arrangement, if possible, on their site. Reciprocity is not easy to achieve but when it is done correctly, can double your turnover overnight.

This is a very powerful marketinng key but you it is rare to find another business with the appropriate vision. If you do, you may become too dependent on the other business, which is risky to you if the relationship breaks down. If we pulled the plug on our DJ and the Evening Entertainment Package, his business would halve within a year once forward bookings ceased. Just look at this chart to see how more than half his business (the blues) now comes from us and less than half (the pinks) from his own marketing.





When you create your own niche site(s), you can limit your own related 'suppliers by category' section (see how we have arranged ours on so there are, in some key categories, only one or two suppliers recommended.

You are then able to work with those suppliers closely because they can refer business to your site, knowing they will not lose custom to a competitor, because they are the only supplier in the relevant category.

They can show off your niche site to their clients saying that you are endorsing them, and in return you have them endorsing you.

You do not charge suppliers for your links but you work with them to ensure they are promoting you effectively in their turn. In our case we can make similar arrangements with photographers, videographers, chair cover companies, dove release companies, wedding dress companies, wedding cake suppliers etc. etc.

In your case you should be able to think up some related but non competing services that would meaningfully link with your own.

However links are not enough. You should be meeting up with them informally on a regular basis (I used to regulalry pop into mine unannounced to gee them along a bit!) rather than relying on the rather impersonal aspect of website links alone.

For our part, we are looking for partners to promote Craig y Nos Castle as a venue for weddings, birthday parties, conferences, training groups, outward bound groups, school trips, self-catering holidays in our farm, B&B breaks, Ghost Hunting, Hen Nights, etc. For your part you may be looking for trading partners that can promote your service alongside theirs. Let me know if this interests you!

For the relationship to work, and to be equal, both parties need to work equally at it. Otherwise one party will soon feel they are doing more for their trading alliance partner than their partner is doing for them. If the relationship is unequal (as ouors is with the DJ), the more 'giving' partner can pull the plug any time, without any detriment to itself. So ensure the mutual support is equally beneficial.

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Niche Marketing Opportunities


Niche Marketing - why it works

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How 'Marketing Necessity' will always accelerate your business to unexpected highs

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Marketing Keys that will grow your business - explained

Time Management Manual - bed-time reading; my free booklet on Time Management

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