Joint Ventures are among the most challenging business approaches. There are other possibilities for marketing together. Opportunities for Joint Ventures are not always high-end.
I shall use the Awareness Ladder (follow the link to remind yourself of the steps) to demonstrate collaboration throughout the marketing cycle. Keep your eyes and ears open for other possibilities!
Assume collaboration between businesses with shared interests. They could be competitors but competition is likely to obscure opportunities for collaboration.
Remember, the further down the Awareness Ladder, the more people there will be and the harder it is to move them up the ladder. But if they move up the ladder there are more prospects for all the businesses involved.
Research into Potential Markets
Rung 0 is where prospects are unaware of their problem. The aim is to get them to Rung 1, where they are aware.
Businesses need to campaign to increase awareness of the problem. You need to know who your markets are, where they are found and the arguments or incentives they need to become aware of their problem.
Even with much competition, there is likely to be scope for collaboration. Moving people to Rung 1 is most difficult and so pooled resources by businesses addressing the same problem, makes a lot of sense.
There will be more people aware of the problem and so more opportunities for all the partners. Remember partners have a variety of offers and so the next challenge is to help prospects work out which offer suits them best.
Finding Pros and Cons
The move from Rung 1, awareness of the problem, to Rung 2, awareness of solutions, needs continued collaboration. The aim is to promote the options available to people aware of the problem.
If people are unaware of solutions they will not take action. Many people live with a problem for years because they believe there is no solution and so do not seek it.
Help them make a good first choice. An outline of the pros and cons of each solution helps. The temptation is to debunk your competitors; you could list all the solutions on the market and why they don’t work, apart from your own. The problem is this is not true.
A better approach is to describe the best customer for each approach. “Use this approach if you are … , don’t use it if you are …”.
This acts as a guide to the offers on the market and helps prospects make a good first choice. When you meet them, you can ask why they chose your offer and so assess whether you are in fact best placed to help them.
Now we move from Rung 2, a general awareness of solutions to Rung 3, awareness of one particular solution. For the coach or consultant, this stage is where you arrange an enrolment meeting, an opportunity to work out whether there is a good fit between your offer and the prospect’s problem and context.
It may become clear there is no match on closer inspection; to make a deal would be a big mistake for one or both parties.
The ability to make a good referral is crucial. If you have collaborated with competitors, making a good referral can strengthen relationships. If it goes well, you will have a grateful competitor and their new client will be grateful too. Ask how you can use this to your advantage.
Moving from awareness of your offer, Rung 3 to Rung 4, full understanding of and trust in your offer, should be easier so long as you have evidence in place. You can show your prospect evidence, depending on what interests them, eg past projects, qualifications, testimonials, etc. One powerful source of evidence is endorsements.
Usually, we think of celebrity endorsements and these can help some businesses. But why not endorsements from competitors? These could increase trust between partners as well as between you and your prospects.
If an endorsement can be backed with a promise that competing businesses will collaborate to support their partner businesses, when they are working with a client, this can strengthen the case you make to your prospect.
This collaboration falls short of a full Joint Venture but includes anything from offering you advice through to subcontracting elements of the deal to other businesses.
The final step from full understanding at Rung 4 to making a purchase, Rung 5, could be a Joint Venture.
You might share a high-end offer with another business. If either business encounters someone who might benefit, they offer the JV offer. You need to agree whether both need to be present. The prospect may want to meet the other party before they commit.
There’s no reason this has to be a high-end offer. You could experiment with low-end offers but income from them, divided between at least 2 parties, may mean there is a point where it is not worthwhile.
There is potential for collaboration between competitors at all stages of your marketing.
The attitude that competitors are the enemy is prevalent and may be hard to dislodge but the truth is they have shared interests and with collaboration there is potential for increased business for all. Businesses with similar interests can collaborate for mutual benefit.
There are possibilities for collaboration between businesses, where they are not competing, so this post explores only one approach to collaboration.
Collaboration between competitors is likely to be fruitful if they agree a strategy. Use the Awareness Ladder as a guide and agree at which rungs you wish to collaborate and how far you want to go. As trust builds, you can do more together. Whatever you agree, get it in writing so you can settle disputes and then focus on building trust.
In my email to subscribers this week, I shall write about building support with prospects. To make sure you see everything, complete the form below to go on my mailing list. You’ll get notice of future blog posts and receive my Thursday emails.
In these posts and emails I am forging a new approach to marketing. Please comment and let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree.