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Attract and Delight More Customers While Spending Less - by Forging Smart Partnerships
by Kare Anderson

  1. Give People Another Reason to Try Your Service or Product

    That's how Applebee's and Weight Watchers attracted new customers without advertising more. When Weight Watchers designed and branded low-cal menu items for Applebee's, followers of their diet program could eat out without guilt, at Applebee's. Applebee's fans got a first-hand introduction to Weight Watchers.

  2. Become Their Top-of-Mind Choice. Offer a Tantalizing "Extra"

    Who knows how many people chose to stay at the Ritz Carlton rather than at another luxury hotel because of an added thrill - complimentary use of a brand new Mercedes during their stay? Mercedes & Ritz Carlton forged a smart partnership and became the top-of-mind choice with their kind of (upscale) customers and so can you - regardless of the kind or size of your business.

    The bonus benefit? Priceless media coverage of your "first-ever" offer.

  3. I Got Shot and Thrived

    What happens when pediatricians join forces with pizza store managers school principals, city health clinic directors and others to better reach and serve their common base of customers: families with young children?

    Together, they did what they could not have accomplished on their own. They offered a highly valued, emotionally-loaded and media-attracting service AND increase foot traffic into their stores and offices: "I Got Shot" free immunizations for kids on Saturdays just before school started.

    Pediatricians gave immunization shots at convenient times in a roomy, cheerful childrens' store, with a party atmosphere where the kids were the center of attention. Parents heard about the offer through all the participating outlets and received free snack coupons after the kids received their shots so they could reward their children with a snack from a nearby store. Partners could provide better, more news-catching service at less cost - and inspire greater community and customer loyalty.

  4. Coddle a (Local) Lucrative Niche Customer

    Last Valentine's Day, several neighborhood businesses -- including a Christian women's business circle, women's medical clinic, florist, health food store, clothing boutique, shopper newspaper, museum store, gym, bookstore and beauty salon -- joined forces for a month-long promotion to attract and serve women.

    The bookstore hosted a series of "Beauty Inside Out" - themed series of in-store demonstrations and mini-seminars each led by a manager of one of the participating businesses and highlighting a book collection and the local partners' related products and services.

    Each presenter provided a handout that included reference to at least one of the other partnering organizations, plus a joint offer of services with one of them. As well, each presenter wrote a guest column based on their presentation, which was featured in the shopper newspaper, with the author's follow-up offer and e-mail noted at the bottom of the article. Of course each column author quoted others in this mutually beneficial alliance.

  5. Give Your Niche Market Something They'll Love to Talk About

    A. To reach men in hotels, bars, sports arenas and restaurants, advertisers used the Wizmark, otherwise called an "interactive urinal communicator." As men step up to the urinal they activate, with the slightest movement, a sensor that prompts red lights to flash, crunchy guitar chords to sound and a 30 second commercial to appear. Yes women, the male response has been positive.

    B. Guests at the Holiday Inn Express get the opportunity to enjoy Kohler's new multi-function showerhead and spa bath.

    How could the experience at your outlet be enhanced by a partner's product?

    Start Partnering the Smart Ways and Grow Your Business Faster

    All these success stories are examples of profitable partnerships. Want to spend less time selling and promoting and more time doing the work you love - and enjoy your success with others? You can. Just join forces with other reputable organizations that serve the same kind of customers.

    Focus on forging the profitable partnerships that generate differentiating value and visibility. Then you can devote more time delighting your customers and attracting fervent referrals by improving your products and your customer service. Act now, before your competitor grabs the best partners and uses the most profitable method.

    Here are more quick snapshots of real life successful partnering methods that you can adapt to get your business (or other organization) growing faster.

  6. Get Introduced to Prospective Buyers Where Your Competition Isn't Even in Sight

    That's why those who fly on Delta Air Lines airlines now see cabin interiors and flight attendant uniforms created by clothing designer Kate Spade. How can your on-site experience be heightened with the involvement of a partner's products and services?

  7. Become a Bigger Customer Magnet by Offering More Helpful Tips Than Your Competitor

    That's why, when pillow-maker, Leo Hollander decided to drop private labeling work in favor of launching his own brand, he recruited complementary partners. On his "Live Comfortably" web site, he provides articles by a feng shui expert, a chiropractor, and a color specialist. Result? He boosted all partners' visibility and credibility - in front of their mutual market of customers.

  8. Foment a Fun and Fast Fundraiser

    That's how firefighters in the town of Toluma got a badly-needed but expensive piece of equipment, a deluge gun, without asking their cash-strapped city council for a single dime.

    Here's how. Business was slow all over their town. The firefighters were getting nowhere when they asked for donations from business owners experiencing a weak economy.

    Yet when they approached the manager of a Pizza Hut he said he didn't have the authority to donate money, but he had a better idea. "Here's what I can do. We can pick a Wednesday, say four weeks from today for an "Our Community Cares" day here. I make $500 or so on Wednesdays. On that day, after we sell $500 worth, every dollar after that I'll split 50/50 with you. So if you inspire enough people to buy a pizza on that day, you can raise more money than you just asked me for."

    The firefighters loved the challenge. They prepared banners and asked the local supermarket and gas stations to put up on their outside walls. They had signs and announcements printed for free by the local copy shop with a bright red *donated by* credit line to the copy shop on them.

    The headline on the signs and flyers read, Eat at Pizza Hut. Save a local life. They visited offices complexes, even those with signs that read "No soliciting." (Who's going to kick out the volunteer fire department, right?)

    They went to apartment complexes, video rental outlets, grade and high schools. They put flyers and signs everywhere. Once people heard about their cause, handing out flyers was like giving away candy. The local radio and newspaper gave them free coverage talking and writing about their inspirational community story.

    When the Wednesday came around, the place was packed. They made enough money to get the Deluge Gun. Most importantly it was a fair partnership because everyone contributed, so participants are likely to want to work together again.

Bottom Line benefit:

SmartPartnerships generate a profitable payoff for all partners because, at the very least, they get a credible introduction to each other's customers. What could be better than reaching prospective customers through organizations they already know and trust?


The Author


Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter, Kare Anderson is CEO of Say it Better Center, co-founder of women's social network, SavvyHer and author of SmartPartnering, LikeABILITY, Resolving Conflict Sooner and other books. Visit

Many more articles in Partnering & Alliances in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2007 by Kare Anderson. All rights reserved.

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