How to Collaborate For Business Growth (With Power)

On a recent episode of Through the Marketing Lens, I spoke about something that is very near and dear to my heart, and that is collaborating with other businesses with power. What the heck do I mean by that? I'm going to get into it.

I see a bunch of collaborations and it’s amazing how many businesses are really coming together and finding partners in it. But I want you to do it in a way that really grows your business. We're not just like showing up on Instagram Lives together without a purpose. Although it's great to show up on any Instagram Live, it's so much more powerful if you show up on that Instagram Live with a plan and a strategy behind it, and you know you're going to be reaching your ideal audience.

Point #1: How do you actually decide who it is you want to collaborate with?

Before you're sending out any kind of DMs, before you're asking people to join you and take over your blog or whatever it is, I want you to think about five different types of businesses that are not the same as yours. So, if you are a jewelry company, I don't want you thinking of another jewelry company. I want you thinking of another complimentary business that serves the same clientele.

Let's say that you make trendy jewelry, and you serve a hip younger woman. So, who else, what other businesses, serve this specific clientele? Cool clothing, boutique yoga studios, hairstylists, juice bars, handbag lines, any kind of health food place, clothing lines, you get the idea. So, those are complimentary to what you do. They do not compete with what you do. So now that we have five or more types of businesses that have the same ideal clients. Now we can dive into that next step.

What does that look like?

I want you to outline what your specific goals are for your collaboration. What I mean by that is, are you promoting something in particular? Maybe you're launching a new course. Maybe you have a mini course. Maybe you have an e-book that you want people to opt-in for. You want to make sure that you know what it is and you're not getting asked questions like, ‘Oh, do you have anything that you want to share with people who are watching this Instagram Live’ and you're kind of fumbling around. You always want to have an end game and know where you want people to go. Are you there for follower growth, are you just trying to get more people on Instagram to follow you, or are you trying to get people onto your email list? Think about those things. And make sure you're able to communicate your intention, so that you can actually execute it.

This really might mean that you write out like a kind of scripts for both of your parts. I've totally done that before, where I have been on like a semi-TV show, and it was absolutely a real conversation, but our parts were “scripted” because I knew where she was going, and she knew where I was going. So be prepared to share what your intentions are with each other and the script feels appropriate especially if it's one of your first ones.

Point #2: Think about what you both want to get out of it.

I want to always make sure when going into any kind of collaboration, I ask the question, ‘What do you want to get out of this?’ Because although you're communicating what you want to get, you want to make sure that they're comfortable with this too. That's how you both shine when you're in these collaborations; if you're really supporting each other through the entire process and the way that I find that to be the most effective is by being ready to show up for your client, but also being ready to show up for the person who you're collaborating with so that they feel supported through the entire process, and they can shine. It just helps the whole thing; you know that feeling when you see people really vibing together? That's what I want you to create so people are super engrossed with what you're saying and they don't tune out.

Another point is that you might reach out to someone and ask them to collaborate, and they might not really get what it is you're trying to do, or they might just have a totally different idea than you do - be okay with saying no. The way that I make sure that I'm okay with saying no to any of my clients who are collaborating is by having a pipeline. Collaborations becomes pretty easy once you outline a couple of them, and just making sure you always have some in your pipeline so if one of them falls through, no big deal, right? It shouldn't be the only way that your business is going to grow, this is just part of your whole marketing strategy.

So, make sure that you feel comfortable with saying no, and realizing that not everybody's going to be a good fit. There's no way and you can try to fit a square peg into a round hole. It always kind of feels wrong. I've done it myself; I've seen clients do it, and you feel like it's going to go well and then things just kind of go off the rails. You just have to trust your gut and be okay with walking away.

Point #3: If it doesn't feel right, press pause.

Even if you're in the middle of the whole process, even if you've built up this whole script, be okay with saying ‘you know what, maybe it'd be better if we did something not on video,’ or ‘hey maybe we should just blog swap instead.’ You don't want to do that as a normal protocol but if something feels off, it's going to feel off to your audience too, and especially if you're showing up on social media.

It's really important that we understand that we're talking to people. So, if you're expecting people to trust you, which is the whole point of marketing right. If we want to establish that know like and trust which is what we're trying to do, over and over. You have to show up in your best way constantly, and if it doesn't feel like your best way, just pick a different route, and just let's just simplify this. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

How to Get Started

So now that you know what business types you want to collaborate with, those five business types. I want you to find specific businesses that you can collaborate with, and you know we're going to start in the simplest place. If you are local, I want you to find specific businesses that you can collaborate with, that's where I want you to start. That is truly the simplest way because you know post- and pre-COVID certainly, you could meet people face-to-face and that just feels so much easier than reaching out in social media, for example. So sure, work with local businesses that align and don't compete with you.

Another way that you can find businesses - let's say that we're looking for boutiques, or that we're looking for juice bars -is just going through hashtags. So, hashtags on Instagram are really simple, you can search them by location. Another way, search #JuiceBar #healthyjuice and finding a few places that really align with you. And then if you don't go with the first one you can dig into a few, and specifically find them that way.

Then as you're sending out DMs, I want you to send out a few of them at a time. I don't want you to just send out one and then wait. I see this with a lot of people who are newer to this, that you send one out and then they're like ‘Oh my God, they didn't respond, or I can see that they read it and they didn't write anything back’ people are busy, people are doing other things, maybe they're not interested, but maybe they just forgot. So, I like to send out a few at the same time so that you're not just counting on that one person. It's a statistics game, just like most things with business and sales. The more that you do, the higher probability that you actually get a guest and that it's a good fit. So, I want you to send out to a few people.

Another way is head into Facebook groups. There are some that are specifically made for every single thing, but let's say female entrepreneurs or even a specific business type, there are Facebook groups for everything. And find a Facebook group that's really active. You want there to be quite a few people in there and you want to make sure that there's a lot of posts and see if there's any businesses who want to collaborate in those rooms. I have a really high success rate in those rooms because there's so many people in there so you're doing it for the right reasons. If you say something really simple that's like, ‘Are there any business owners in this room, that would like to collaborate together? This is the kind of business that I have, I'm looking for these specific business types. And for us to put together…’ and then you can bullet point this Instagram lives Facebook Lives, whatever it is, and we're going to go into more specifics there, but that's as simple as you have to make it and then people comment from it. It's kind of just there for you to pick from. So, don't overwhelm yourself with all of this, just go into this Facebook group’s posts and see what happens.

Another thing, and I'm going to talk about this until I'm blue in the face you guys, jump into Clubhouse rooms. Those rooms are so incredible and ask those same questions that I just said to you about the Facebook group. Ask those same questions in the clubhouse rooms. If you're in the right rooms, you're going to find people to collaborate with. And it's a really great platform because it's just voice. So, it's really easy, especially if you're in the networking and connection rooms.

It's really easy for you to find people who are ready to do these things because Clubhouse was made for this. It's real-time so you're going to get an answer pretty quickly.

So that's kind of how I would say really simplified way of you actually creating a process around finding some very specific businesses to partner with. Now that you're finding specific businesses, I want you to actually create an organized process to ask questions. So, once people say ‘Yes, I want to collaborate,’ then what you don't to happen when they say yes is ask ‘okay do I DM you or do you DM me?’

What I want you to do is to create a Google form with all of the questions so that you guys can take it “offline” and have a real conversation from there on.

I take a lot of my conversations to Whatsapp, or you can take them to email, certainly, but I like things that are more real-time, so I like ones that have a place to do it. So, you're going to find out their information in the Google Forms. Like, what's your Instagram handle? What's your email address? Do you have a WhatsApp profile? What is your ideal client? What would you want to get out of this? Would you be open to Instagram Live? Would you be open to blogs? So, you're going to find out kind of all of the information that you are ultimately going to ask them again. But here's the reason I want you to do this - you're going to weed out anyone who is not serious. I get so many people who say they want to do things, and then when I asked them to fill out a two or five-minute Google form, they don't do it. And if they're not willing to do that, they're not going to be someone who's going to follow through. Let me say that again: if they’re not going to do that small thing, they're not going to be someone who follows through. And that's not necessarily because they don't want to, they just might not be organized and may not be set up that way. It doesn't matter, but it's a way for you to weed them out and really, it just simplifies everything and once you have all that information. Then you can then reach out to them with your plan. I want you to stay in control of this process. Someone has to be in control. This isn't about you being power over them. This is about someone being the point person on this.

So now that you have reached out now that you have all their information, and you can reach out to them. I want you to send out a specific way that you would like to collaborate so ‘here's a few ideas,’ and you can put this into your Google Form and see what they would like to do and base it around that. Not every collaboration has to be the same at all. For example, if they have a really big Instagram following and you can see that, then it makes sense for you guys to do an Instagram Live, because you're going to get access to their clients or their audience, and they're going to get access to yours.

Here's a few ideas of ways that you can collaborate:

  • Instagram Lives: In the Instagram Live you can both interview each other

  • Facebook Live: Can be done in each other's groups, if you have Facebook groups where you do some kind of teaching, and you add value in their group, and they add value in your group.

  • Interview each other on video: You can do it over zoom and put those videos up on YouTube and then you share them in email form, you can share those videos on a different platform like Facebook Live.

  • Moderate a Clubhouse room together: Obviously, that's a big thing if you're on clubhouse right now. It's a really simple way for you to have to do it, there's no editing or anything it's just in real time.

  • You could create a freebie or an e-book together and share to each other's audiences with opt-ins to each other's email lists: This one takes a bit more coordination because it's going to be back and forth with creative stuff, but it is something that you can bring back to life several times. I like the things that live long-term. It takes a lot more work, but listen here, you can essentially create those freebies from your Instagram lives, or Clubhouse rooms, or whatever it is you guys did together - taking that content that you created and putting it into a freebie. It's actually really simple and here's the process of how you could do that. So, let's say you guys do live, and now it's recorded, so you or your virtual assistant can watch that and basically take the really valuable points, and then build it into a freebie. That's it. It's just something you have to create so it's one more step. But now it's something that you guys can share, over and over and over.

  • You can host a giveaway together: This is really simple too. I like this a lot for growth and it's not a ton of value, but you'll be introducing to each other's audiences. You could also offer like if you guys have courses you can offer discount codes to each other's courses. I like to do that specific thing through a live or through a shared blog post

  • Guest blogging on each other's sites with a ton of value: If you want to go one step further. You can have these blog posts, and if you did, interview on zoom and you recorded it, we put that up on YouTube. And then you share that YouTube link in the blog post and depending on what platform you have for your website. You should just be able to like actually click a YouTube video and you can actually see it. So that's like one extra element, but it's something that's going to live on YouTube too so now you're searchable for it.

  • You could create a whole new product together: That's something that obviously can take a ton more investment in that person, but you could sell it at a pretty low price point to each other's audiences.

  • You could host a free webinar together: You're adding a ton of value, and you're not doing it on something like Facebook, so you would get their emails to be able to let them join the webinar.

So, I just gave you 10 different ways that you guys could work together. These are all really good strategies, and you could layer them, as I was explaining, so you don't have to just do one but you can start with one. If it goes really well, go to the next one, and having a game plan and starting small is really effective. I like the idea of you starting with something like a Clubhouse room but it's not going to be recorded, so just think about that component too because if you're going to invest all this time in it, I want it to be something that you can essentially repurpose.

So, that is how you collaborate with power and with strategy and not just like picking people to show up on their various pages, and then expecting that to be life-changing for your business. When you go into any kind of collaboration, just like anything else, having a powerful strategy behind it is going to make it worth 10 times what it would if you didn't have a strategy, probably more. Honestly, if you do it really well, it's so incredibly effective. And you're also showing up in a way that that your clients haven't seen. You're constantly getting on stories or getting on Instagram Lives, and your clients always see that. It's not that they don't want to see you, they trust you. But if you're introducing something else that's really valuable, it's just something different. Literally, they can get fatigued from just seeing you, so, give them something else and showing up in a way that's a collaboration, that something else where you're adding different value and so on and so forth.

So, I hope this was super powerful for you. I hope you take something from it and go out there into the world and collaborate with power that is what this is all about – growing your business in a way that is really actually implementable, so it's not this big crazy idea. This is something that you could start right now by making a list of five other businesses that would be able to reach your clientele.

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