Developing strong marketing partnerships with other local businesses offering complementary services and products is a smart and cost-effective way to grow your insurance client base without straining your budget, but unless you do it right, creating marketing partnerships can sometimes wind up being more of a headache than they're worth. Here's a quick review of what you need to know to ensure you're making the most of local partnerships so they are as effective and rewarding as possible:
First, make sure the reputation of the other business is strong and in line with your own reputation and goals; after all, when you partner with a business, you also ally your own reputation with theirs.
Next, establish goals. Do you want a long-term marketing partnership, or are you interested in forming a partnership only for a specific period of time – for instance, for an upcoming event?
Consider the scope of your partnership. What types of marketing activities do you want to share? Joint activities can be as complex or as simple as you choose, from creating a complete combined marketing plan to developing occasional joint campaigns via email or direct mail to simply agreeing to provide referrals and include your partners' sales sheets in any client folders or information packets you provide.
While most long-term partnerships involve businesses providing complementary services, it doesn't have to be that way; sometimes, even disparate businesses serving the same market can work together to create successful alliances. For instance, an insurance company might partner with a local restaurant to offer a series of insurance seminars to be held on a regular basis at the restaurant. The agency and restaurant might split the basic cost of coffee and snacks while both enjoy the benefits of reaching new customers and clients.
Think outside the box. A marketing partnership for an insurance agency might include an attorney and financial planner or accountant; each of these businesses serves similar client bases, which means cross-marketing efforts generally have a better chance of being successful. But you might also decide to join with a local marina, RV shop or real estate agent to serve specific sectors of your marketplace.
Demonstrate your commitment – and be patient. The most important thing to remember when forming long-term marketing partnerships is that patience is key. Partnerships require time to reap rewards, so don't be discouraged if you don't see results right away. It's also important to reach out to your marketing partners on a regular basis so you can share ideas, compare results and ensure your businesses are both moving in similar directions. And it doesn't hurt to take your partner out to coffee or send along a little gift from time to time to make sure the relationship between your businesses remains as strong as possible. By supporting your partner's success, you'll wind up supporting your own insurance agency's success as well.