How To (Successfully) Find, Contact and Persuade Strategic Endorsement Partners - Part 1
Strategic Endorsement Partnerships
This post (part 1 of a 3 part series) will teach you everything you need to know to successfully implement your own partnership program and take your business to the next level of success.
Have you ever bought something because someone you trusted endorsed that specific product or service?
If you moved into a new part of town and your new neighbor recommended a specific dentist or doctor, would you be more or less inclined to use their services?
You probably wouldn’t consider looking at any other options.
Every business, no matter what its size, should implement a formal strategic endorsement program where they earn profits by recommending other businesses products or services to their prospects and customers.
In turn, they should have a formal program in place where they earn profit from other businesses recommending their products or services to their prospects and customers.
Setting up strategic alliances can be a tricky proposition
Work within the framework of your financial and non-financial resources by using yourself and your staff in such a way that you minimize your time, effort and investment.
Major credit card companies send monthly billings to every one of their customers.
These are customers who are obviously interested in buying various products and services on credit.
For that business to mail to this same extensive list of customers would be cost prohibitive, especially when you remember that you must mail repetitiously to customers before your marketing will produce significant results.
Suppose you could pay the credit card companies a fraction of the mailing cost and have them INCLUDE your marketing collateral inside their billing letter.
Rental car companies and hotel chains know that by partnering with the credit card companies they will reach a high percentage of their targeted business traveling customers… and do so for a fraction of the cost of the mailing.
If these businesses sent out their own mailings, how many of them would even get opened?
With no name or brand recognition, most prospects today won’t bother to open the envelope.
By partnering with the credit card companies, they’re all but assured of getting 100% of their targeted customers to open and read their mail.
Create Strategic Endorsements
There are two ways you can create strategic endorsements.
The first involves you as the endorsee.
Other businesses will partner with you and recommend your business to their prospects and customers.
The second is where you’re the endorser.
You recommend your partners business to your prospects and customers.
Let’s begin by discussing ways to get other businesses to endorse you to their prospects and customers.
Your goal is to gain access to the prospects and customers of other businesses that sell products or services that compliment yours.
This is similar to having your own separate sales force that you don’t have to manage or pay unless they produce qualified sales.
The cost to reach these “qualified” prospects is a fraction of what it would cost you in advertising to find them.
Your “strategic endorsement partner” already has their trust.
Their endorsement instantly creates a feeling of trust before you ever make them your offer.
There are three situations to consider when creating a strategic partnership with other businesses.
#1: They endorse your product or service to their customers that have a need for what you sell, but they can’t fulfill that need themselves.
Your partners can provide their current customers and prospects with a valuable.
service by promoting your favorable prices, terms and offers to them.
There are three situations to consider when creating a strategic partnership with other businesses.
#2: A specific purchase they make triggers needed or related additional purchases.
If you sell a product or service that follows from an initial sale, this sets up the perfect strategic endorsement partnership.
A new bride purchasing her dream wedding gown will also be selecting flowers, a venue for her wedding reception, a limo service, a wedding cake and so on.
A home buyer must choose a mortgage broker, a title company, a termite inspector or a home inspection company shortly after purchasing the home.
A gentleman buying flowers for his anniversary may be looking for a nice restaurant, diamond earrings or a necklace or possibly that special vacation getaway.
#3: When they have prospects inquire about their services but fail to buy.
These are prospects that consider purchasing your partner’s product or service but for whatever reason never complete the purchase.
The prospect may want to add new landscaping, but your strategic endorsement partner only handles lawn maintenance.
By referring this prospect to your landscaping company, you would get the job and in turn you could hire the lawn maintenance company to handle that portion of the job and pay them a referral fee as well.
There are times when a business is simply too busy to service the prospect in a timely manner.
Have you ever contacted a business (typically during their busy season) and you hear them say “I’m sorry, but we’re swamped right now and won’t be able to get you on the schedule for at least six week”.
You immediately begin searching for someone else.
A bride-to-be calls a hotel to book her wedding reception and discovers that it’s unavailable on her wedding date.
She will immediately begin to call other hotels until she finds another facility with a large enough banquet hall to accommodate her wedding party, including the hotel rooms she will need to book for her out-of-town guests.
What if this hotel agreed to a strategic endorsement partnership with another hotel of equal quality?
The first hotel can now tell the inquiring prospect “I’m sorry, we’re already booked for that date, but may I make a suggestion?
Janet Smith is the wedding coordinator at The Luxury Hotel.
They have a completely renovated Grand Ballroom that is nothing short of breathtaking.
I would be happy to call her on your behalf to see if they have availability”.
You could offer special pricing or offers on behalf of your partner (with their approval) to help close the sale on their behalf.
“If I call on your behalf I can save you 10% on your entire wedding package because of our affiliation with them”.
Can you see how this would motivate inquiring prospects to agree to this arrangement?
Now let’s discuss you endorsing other businesses products and services to your customers.
In this arrangement, you offer your prospects and customers additional products and services that you don’t sell, but they typically purchase (or plan to purchase) from someone else.
Create a list of qualified businesses that can fill your customers unmet needs, and you will see a dramatic increase in your profits without having to do a thing.
An interior designer would love to know the names and addresses of the customers who purchase the latest paintings from your local art house.
The interior designer also realizes that it will cost them anywhere from $25 to $100 or more in marketing fees in order to position their marketing message in front of them.
For most businesses, marketing to the masses is not realistic… the cost is simply too great.
Consider these five situations where you can easily endorse other businesses to your customers.
#1: Endorse your partner’s product or service to your customers that may have an unmet need, but that you don’t currently offer.
Prospects and customers prefer to do business with those they trust and respect.
You’re in a preeminent position to recommend additional related or complimentary products and services that you don’t offer.
Your recommendation can save your customers money, time and hassle.
The accountant may determine your business needs a special form of insurance, and could recommend an insurance company that specializes in this unique coverage.
Or perhaps the business has some legal challenges and the accountant might recommend a business attorney.
Since you trust your accountant to handle your financial situation, you will typically trust their recommendations for other needed products and services without question.
But the accountant could take this to an entirely new level.
What if they recommended an IT company, an office supply company, a copy machine dealer, a payroll service or a company that specializes in SEO.
Since you have already established a measure of trust and respect with your customers, your recommendation will be followed the vast majority of the time.
In most cases the accountant would receive compensation for each endorsement.
#2: The timing of the sale.
Many purchases lead to additional purchases.
Additional purchases often occur immediately after the initial sale.
If you know that a sale is about to take place, that information is priceless to a whole host of strategic endorsement partners.
#3: When your customers relocate or transfer.
Approximately one out of five families move annually.
One quarter of them move out of state and close to half move outside of their current community.
Suppose you forged a strategic partnership with an entire network of business owners in other parts of the country that market the same products and services as you do.
If your business is regional or national, then the one quarter of your customers moving out of state can represent a wealth of opportunity for your business.
Banks, franchises, dry cleaners, auto repair shops, restaurants, etc. often have a regional or national presence.
Even those businesses that don’t often offer high dollar services that can command a lucrative endorsement fee from a strategic endorsement partner that could result from making one simple phone call.
Consider an attorney or accountant who could endorse another located in your current customer’s new community.
They could jump online, find one of their fellow accountants that specializes in the same services they provide, contact them and arrange a strategic partnership complete with an endorsement fee.
A building contract, home remodeling contractor, landscaping service, realtor or a home builder could also fall into this arena.
#4: When a prospect inquires about buying what you sell but fails to do so.
How many times have you gone to buy something but didn’t find what you were looking for?
It may not have been the level of quality you wanted.
Your product or service quality level may be more than what your prospects need.
It may be lower than they were expecting.
You should have strategic endorsement partnerships set up to counter both contingencies.
There are going to be times when your product or service simply doesn’t meet your prospects buying criteria.
Prospects look for specific sizes, colors, makes, models, brands, styles and so on.
Never lose out on the opportunity to provide your prospects with exactly what they need, and earn an endorsement fee in the process .
Just the fact that you took the time to help this prospect can lead them to become your customer for life.
They remember this superior level of service.
There’s an excellent chance you will top their list of recommendations.
Sample Endorsement Letter
Consider sending them a letter after they purchase from your strategic endorsement partner that says…
“I was delighted to hear that Superior Truck was able to fix you up with the perfect vehicle. In the future, let me know if we can be of service when you decide it’s time to purchase that new car to compliment your new truck.
I’m enclosing our recently released new car catalog along with a voucher for free lifetime service with us for all new vehicle purchases.
In addition, we have just finalized a new arrangement with our local bank to provide all new vehicle purchases with zero interest for one year, saving you thousands over the life of your loan.
P.S. Do you know of any friends, family members or work associates that may be in the market for a new car?
If so, please complete the enclosed postage paid postcard with their names and we will gladly pay you $250 or provide you with a 10% credit towards any future new car purchase when one of them purchases from us.”
You now know this customer just made a purchase, even though they didn’t buy it from you.
Ask yourself what else might they be interested in purchasing.
What other “complimentary” products or services might they need or want.
Couldn’t you now endorse other such providers to these customers?
#5: Wen you can’t service your prospects for some reason.
There are often times when someone inquires about your product or service and you simply can’t help them.
You may have run a sales promotion that produced more sales than you anticipated, or your supplier may be out of stock and unable to supply you with a specific product.
Most prospects won’t wait for you to provide them with what they want, and they typically seek out someone else to provide for them.
Three Endorsement Systems
- Passive Endorsement System
- Semi-Active Endorsement System
- Active Endorsement System
1. Passive Endorsement System
A passive system means you have no control over the endorser (your strategic partner).
The endorser has no real motivation to recommend your specific business, or your specific product or service.
A passive system consists of a loose agreement between you and your partner to “recommend” each other’s business when appropriate.
A landscaper may tell the lawn care company that they will recommend them to all of their clients, so naturally the lawn care company indicates they too will refer the landscaper.
This “non-committal” agreement defines a “passive” system.
Unfortunately, the landscaper may have three other of these “non-committal” verbal agreements with your competition.
In a passive system, you have no idea whatsoever how or if your partner is presenting you to their customers.
Renting a mailing list from a business that has the same targeted prospects as customers for your business is another type of passive endorsement.
This does help you target qualified prospects and can dramatically reduce your marketing cost.
However, you receive no personal endorsement from them, so most of these customers will treat your mailing as “junk mail.”
2. Semi-Active Endorsement System
In a semi-active system, a business agrees to include another business’s marketing material when they contact their customers but does not explicitly recommend them.
The credit card companies that include the promotional materials from the rental car companies or the hotels are prime examples of a semi-active system.
The only opportunity here is the credit card companies use the power of recognition to get their customers to open the envelope and look at the contents… nothing more.
You as the “ride-along” have no assurances that your mailing will receive anything more than a cursory glance.
This does give you a slight advantage over renting a list.
A semi-active system also includes when a business puts you on their preferred provider list.
Many companies actually publish a vendor list containing multiple businesses all performing the same service.
It does absolutely nothing to position your business as being unique or special, or why a prospect should consider buying from you instead of the other competitors on the list.
If you’re a lawn care specialist and you rent (passive) the landscaper’s list of current customers, your costs to reach this targeted group would be low – especially if you narrowed it down to customers making more than $50,000 annually and that live within a five mile radius of your business.
This is far preferable than sending out thousands of letters to homeowners in general.
If you write a compelling letter with an irresistible offer, you will get some new business from this list.
However, if the landscaper mailed your promotional piece (semi-active) to these same customers, the vast majority of them will at least open the envelope and skim through your material.
Research shows this typically increases readership and response rates by 500% or more.
There’s a way to dramatically increase prospect interest and response rates.
Simply partner with the landscaper and have them actively endorse you to their clients (active).
This increases interest and response by an additional 500%.
This communication can take place in the landscaper’s monthly mailing, a direct mail letter or at the actual point of purchase.
Letter to Landscaper Customers.
- How your lawn care service performs a spring lawn care assessment to insure the right mix of seed, fertilizer and weed killer is applied at the right times and in the right quantity.
- How your team takes extra care when trimming and pruning delicate plants and shrubs.
- How they not only edge the sidewalks and walkways, but they power vacuum all the surfaces until they are spotless.
- The landscaper can then tell their customers how you’re pricing is the same as companies that provide none of these additional services.
- And how the landscaper has negotiated a special discount or bonus for their clients, along with a special satisfaction guarantee where if the customer is dissatisfied for any reason, the lawn care provider will come back out for free until the job is done to the customer’s complete satisfaction.
- The landscaper could share several testimonials that talk about the incredible service the lawn care service provides and how they used a different company in the past that charged 25% more but delivered only half the service.
- Now consider the fact that the vast majority of the landscaper’s customers trust and respect them implicitly, especially when it comes to their property’s visual appeal.
- Would this letter have a major influence on those customers that are not only dissatisfied with their current lawn care provider but also those that are mildly indifferent as well?
- Wouldn’t their endorsement when coupled with the savings (or bonus) offered by the lawn care provider be both powerful and appreciated by their clients?
2. Active Endorsement System
An Active Strategic Endorsement System has you controlling the endorsement activity along with the content of the endorsement message as often as possible.
What if the landscaper recommended the lawn care service provider to every customer they serviced?
What if they could convey the additional benefits the lawn care service provides that is over and above all other lawn service providers in the area?
Imagine my partner and I recently installed an outside hot tub - given we're both spending so much more time at home.
We both love stone work and our plans called for stone to be used across the base of the hot tub along with a stone fire pit for ambiance.
Now imagine, after seeing our plans, my neighbour decided to build a similar project and added $10,000+ in stone work to their project.
If the hot tub company had used this same strategy, they would be able to sell many more hot tubs based on this similar concept.
The owner of the stone work business can offer additional benefits to the hot tub company that makes them unique and offsets their business from all of their competitors.
Suppose the stone contractor could also offer to teach them how to up-sell and add additional cross-sell services; how to create additional revenue by creating a “hot tub lifetime maintenance agreement;” and how to implement their own active referral system
Would the hot tub company feel extremely compelled to enthusiastically endorse this stone contractor?
If you took some time to think about it, this same process works in reverse as well.
The stone contractor becomes the endorser and recommends the hot tub company.
Do you think that people interested in beautifying their home with stone work might also be interested in adding a hot tub to further enhance their lifestyle?
If so, do you think that most of them probably have no idea who they would use to install a hot tub?
Isn’t it standard behavior that most prospects looking to install a hot tub typically meet with several hot tub companies… and in the design phase decide to add stone work to the project?
Is it probable then that they might call a stone contractor for various design ideas and to receive bids for the project?
Does this now provide a unique opportunity for the stone contractor to endorse a specific hot tub company – especially if the stone contractor was financially motivated to do so?
Your “Master-Level Strategic Endorsement Partner Program Process” is your key to predictable and repeatable growth.
This is the way you want to grow a business to Grow-2-Sell or Own-a-Legacy.
I'll help you (successfully) design a Strategic Endorsement Partner Program Process.
To create this process effectively, I help you develop a partner program process your ideal partners will respond to using our win-win framework.
Together, these processes will help you create, design and develop your very own Master-Level Strategic Partner Program Process.