Sometimes, all you need is that one big break. For actors, that may be the role of a lifetime. For chefs, it’s that one good review. And for brands, it may be one great partnership or collaboration.
A successful collaboration or partnership can quickly grow your audience base, expand your pool of new fans, increase the resources and connections at your fingertips, and create a new revenue stream. There are no limits to what these professional connections can look like – from affiliate marketing to co-marketing to brand collaboration.
But to create these collaborations, you have to keep your head up for opportunities and learn how to get your foot in the door. With spammy DMs, phishing emails, and endless cold calls and emails that don’t warrant a response, people (especially people worth reaching out to) are flippant or suspicious of requests for partnerships and collaborations.
If you don’t reach out thoughtfully, authentically and through the right channel of communication, you won’t have much luck creating new business relationships.
So, what is the right way to reach out, pitch your idea, and cultivate successful business collaborations and partnerships?
If you don’t contact the right person, your great idea probably won’t reach the right ears. Sending random DMs probably won’t get you there, so if you don’t have an inside connection, you will need to do a bit of research to get your message straight to the person who can accept it/
Use website team pages to do some initial research. Some company website lists team members, titles, and (if you’re lucky) contact info. That is a great place to start your journey to the right name, email address.
Use LinkedIn to investigate team members if there are no team pages. There are over 722 million people on LinkedIn, and a good chunk of those people keep an active and updated record of their current job and position.
Use webchat to request additional info. This one can be a hit-or-miss depending on the company’s knowledge of support. If your initial investigation comes up dry and their website has web chat, they may be able to direct you to the most productive team or person to contact.
Try a social DM when all else fails. You never know! If you write an engaging message, you may come up lucky with a response and a connection to the right person.
Connections count for a lot. While the ideal connection is a person on the inside, excited to share your idea, you don’t need that to have a solid inside connection (and eventually create a better one).
Check LinkedIn again once you have your ideal name for outreach. Do you have any mutual connections to build off of? Did you live in the same state or go to the same college? Anything you can bring up that creates a bond of commonality can get your foot in the door enough for someone to hear you out.
Just as with cover letters, essays, or love letters, your message should not look like a straight copy/paste.
If you have a name, use it. Whether you’re reaching out through DMs, email, or anything else, just saying “Hi!” looks like you’re sending the same thing to several other people.
If you don’t have a name, use concrete detail, and introduce yourself. Do anything you can to make it clear that this a custom message to this specific company, whether that’s complimenting a past campaign or giving quick info on your personal experience with their brand.
With initial outreach and following conversations, listing how they will benefit from the collab clearly and directly will increase your chances of enticing a company with your idea.
Offer value before the outreach. If you can prove you’re already helping their business, even better. Follow, like, and comment on social media platforms. Leave positive reviews after trying the product or service. Anything you can do to get your brand name showing up on their content shows you’re already gung-ho to supporting their business.
Under-promise and over-deliver. Don’t promise the world to get the collaboration or partnership if you can’t come through on the benefits you pitch. That’s a great way to get a bad reputation and not be suggested for collaboration opportunities in the future.
Don’t be vague in the value of the partnership. Vagueness is suspicious and seems disingenuous. If you can’t communicate the value the possible collaboration or partnership will bring, then you’re not ready to reach out to the company.
Create the plans so they don’t have to. When you can see the whole horizon ahead, you will be much more confident in jumping into an opportunity. If all you say is “we should work together” with no follow-up, it’s impossible to paint a visual picture of how collaboration will play out, and you may not engage your prospective partners. Once you lay the plans
Plan on doing most of the effort. The less they have to do (or spend), the more enticing the collaboration is to other companies. If you prove that you’re not creating partnerships to get out of work, you prove yourself as a great potential partner.
Whether it’s a financial or resource responsibility on their end, be upfront about what you would want from them. Beating around the bush and being vague about details will seem spammy and could spook the potential collaborator.
Create and split lists of responsibilities. Once you are in the conversation phase of a partnership, fleshing out the project, make sure both parties are aware of their specific list of responsibilities. Having them see what is on their plate will help with expectations, and showing them what’s on yours will show them that you are putting in the work as well.
Be ready to compromise. It’s not just your project anymore! Your partner (if they are a good one) will have their thoughts and opinions to add to the table. Your initial plan will grow and evolve into something you’re both proud of – so don’t stop the creative process! You may make something you’ve never considered plausible.
Businesses will only align themselves with well-respected companies. The best thing you can do to stimulate collaborations and partnerships is to have the brand reputation other companies want to be associated with. Offer an amazing customer experience, create the best product in your industry, be thoughtful about your digital, print, and in-person presence, and the potential collaborations and partnerships will come to you.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Collaborations and partnerships may be just what your 2021 strategy needs to breathe some fresh air and new interest in your marketing strategy. If you’re interested in stimulating new partnerships, reach out to our team!