That is totally crazy, you are probably thinking. How in the world can my working for someone else’s business help mine? Really, it is very simple: by promoting each other’s businesses, first, you aren’t seen as selling something, because you are a disinterested party. And second, whether you call it karma, the Golden Rule, or “what goes around, comes around,” by spreading good will in the business community, other business owners will be attracted to your business and will want to help you stay in business, so that you can send even more business their way.
How does this work? First, you must find strategic partners or business partners. A strategic partner is someone who has the same kinds of customers that you do: for example, a day care center and a baby store. A business partner is someone who provides a related service: a massage therapist and a chiropractor. In either case, referrals between your two businesses will dramatically improve your customer base.
There are many different ways to make relationship marketing work for you. You may want to write guest posts for each other’s blogs, or link to posts from one blog to the other. You can also write business reviews for another business and post them on the internet in local forums or on local websites, if you have a local business, or link to websites for businesses based on internet sales. You can also help to solve your clients’ problems by noticing whether a business or strategic partner can help them. For example, a voice teacher may work with an ear, nose and throat doctor; integrated medical practitioners can work well together, too.
There is really no limit to how businesses can help each other, and clients will be far more receptive to a recommendation than to a sales pitch. By identifying strategic and business partners, taking the time to learn enough about someone else’s business to send them exactly the right referrals (and you wouldn’t want to refer your best clients to a business you did not know well), you will be able to dramatically help all the related businesses.
In addition, it is almost a law of nature that if you do something nice for someone, they will tend to want to “balance the books” by doing something nice for you. By using a planned referral strategy, you will be able to take advantage of this because not only will the other business owner tend to refer people to you, but your clients whom you have helped will tend to refer other prospective clients to you, too.