Increase Sales on a Tight Marketing Budget Using Partnerships | Meg Wheeler | Skillshare

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Increase Sales on a Tight Marketing Budget Using Partnerships

teacher avatar Meg Wheeler, Business Money Consultant

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome to the Course


    • 2.

      Benefits of Partnerships


    • 3.

      Types of Partnerships


    • 4.

      Defining Your Goals


    • 5.

      Finding the Right Partners


    • 6.

      Setting up the Partnership


    • 7.

      Evaluating Your Success


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About This Class

One of the biggest challenges business owners face is getting more exposure to drive sales. This is even harder when your marketing budget is small or non-existent. The answer? Strategic partnerships with other businesses.

Working with brands, influencers and organizations is a great way to expand your exposure, increase your traffic and drive more sales. And creating these successful partnerships doesn't have to be hard - you just have to know how to identify and connect with the right partners, establish terms for the partnership in line with your objectives and analyze each partnership to continue building on your success.

In this short course, you'll learn how to do all of that - plus, you'll get my free resources to start reaching out to the right partners today. This includes my Marketing Partnerships Tracker (to keep track of everyone you reach out to!), my Marketing Partnerships Checklist (to make sure you haven't missed a step) and probably the most valuable of them all - my sample Marketing Partnerships Outreach Email (this will help you craft the PERFECT email to land the partnership). 

Meet Your Teacher

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Meg Wheeler

Business Money Consultant


Meg is a Business Money Consultant, blogging about money-related business topics and teaching creative and service-based entrepreneurs how to run financially fit businesses. She offers 1-on-1 consulting, group coaching and On-Demand CFO services to help business owners set up and manage the "money stuff" (from accounting to budgeting to taxes to money mindset).

Meg is also the Co-Founder and CEO of One For Women, an online community and marketplace on a mission to connect and empower women. She is the hostess of the One For Womenkind podcast, a weekly show featuring intimate conversations on the power of small gestures, and how we can use kindness and compassion to show up and support women.

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1. Welcome to the Course: Hey, everyone. Welcome. Today we are chatting about how to create successful partnerships for your business. I am so excited to be here today. This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart because it has created so much success for me in my own businesses. To get started, let me just tell you a little bit about who I am. My name is Meg. I am the co-founder and CEO of an online gift company called One For Women. I'm also a start-up strategist and financial educator on my personal website, My professional career actually started off in real estate many years ago. I decided to go back to school to get my MBA and my masters in accounting and became a CPA, a Certified Public Accountant, and started working in the finance industry specifically as an international tax consultant. However, I am super passionate about supporting women and I wanted to have a bigger impact in the work I was doing. So I quit my job in finance and started One For Women. That's just a little bit about me. You can learn more about me on my website if you're interested, but let's go ahead and dive in. Our plan for today is all things partnership marketing. We're going to start off by talking about what is partnership marketing, and then we'll talk about the benefits and how they may help you in your business. We'll talk about the different types in case you're not familiar with those, and then we'll go through the steps to have successful partnerships. The first is to define your goals. The second is to find the right partners. Lastly, we need to learn how to assess the value of each partnership we engage in. 2. Benefits of Partnerships: To start, what is partnership marketing? Well, if you google this, there are a lot of complicated definitions, but I like to think of it very simply. Partnership marketing is essentially two or more businesses who get together on some type of marketing campaign and they worked together to create that campaign in order to get mutual benefits for their own businesses. That all sounds great, but what does that actually look like? Well, this collaborative marketing campaign can be anything from a giveaway, to an event, to a freebie. Who is partnership marketing for? Well, if your marketing budget is small, you're short on time and resources, and you're struggling to reach more of your target audience, then I think partnership marketing can be a really great fit for you. Now, to be very clear, if you are lucky enough to have a not so small marketing budget, and you're lucky enough to have a not so small team, then partnership marketing is still a great option for you. Really, partnership marketing works for everyone who wants to get out there and reach more of their target audience. I just think it's particularly beneficial to those who don't have a huge marketing budget and don't have a huge team because of the benefits it offers to those businesses. What are those specific benefits? Well, first of all, partnership marketing can save you a lot of time and money. There's a big difference between having to go out and create your own marketing campaigns and run those campaigns, than getting together with like minded business and creating those together. Partnership marketing can also really boost your brand awareness. If you're just trying to get your name out there, or you're trying to get in front of more people, this can be a great option for you. Lastly, the thing we probably all are really focused on, is that partnership marketing can actually increase your sales. I want to be clear here, this is the case whether you are a product based business or service based business. I really do believe that partnership marketing can be beneficial no matter what type of product you sell, and also no matter what your venue is, whether you are an online only business or if you are a local business, an in person retail business, I think partnership marketing can work for you. 3. Types of Partnerships: Let's talk about some of the different types of partnership marketing. Well, the first is probably the most obvious one, which are promotions. This is where brands can get together and decide to offer some kind of a promotion and typically brands will do this when they are like-minded. For example, a bedding company might pair up with a mattress company to do a joint promotion. Now here's the thing about promotions. They do drive sales which is great. Sometimes they can be too salesy. When you do a promotion, you really want to think about providing benefits to the customer. In the example I gave, if you are targeting customers who have just purchased mattresses, it's very likely that they probably also need to purchase new bedding or they might want to purchase new bedding. If you can set up our promotion that provides them with some value, that makes sense. Another example of partnership marketing are hosted events. Now these can definitely be more expensive because you often have to pay for a venue or for food, or really anything that you would want to have at the event. But they can have huge return because they give you in-person exposure and the opportunity to connect. I have found personally in my businesses that this is huge. People want to buy from people that they know, like and trust. Meeting them in person is a great way to get there. The other benefit I love about hosted events is it gives you great content for social media. Anytime I do hosted event I always bring a photographer. It does cost me a little bit of money, but it's always worth it. I usually get anywhere from 20 to 50 photos that I can then use in all of my marketing. I can use it in all of my resources and my e-mails and my social media. It's a really great return for me. Another type of partnership marketing we've already touched on a little bit are Giveaways. Typically people will do these for social media follows or e-mail lists sign-ups and often times they are minimal cost. It's usually just the cost of your product plus a little bit of time to set up, but not a whole ton of time. However, there is some upfront work with these and often times there's legal compliance. Do keep in mind that most states, if not all states, have rules around giveaways and raffles and things like this. You'll need to just talk to your legal counsel and make sure that you have the right verbiage on your website and in any of your promotional materials for your giveaways to make sure that you're covered. I don't say that to scare anyone. It's really not that challenging once you have that conversation, but it's definitely a conversation you should have. Another type of partnership marketing is Cross-Promotion. This can be anything from, let's see, sharing posts about each other on your social media. It can be blog posts on each other's web sites that link to the other. They can be including each other in your newsletters. But the idea is being that there's some cross so that, I'm doing it for you and you're doing it for me. Couple of great benefits to this. The first is that this gives you back links to boost your SEO. When you have external links on your website, that does help with your SEO. That's the first benefit if you're doing this on your website. The second is it gives you exposure to like-minded audiences. If I partner up with somebody who has a very similar target market, as I do, I'm now getting exposure to their audience much like they're getting exposure to mine, it broadens my audience. The third is that this is really is minimal cost. It might be a little bit of time depending on what type of promotion you decide to do. But if you do something on social media, it's probably not that much time. Maybe a blog post takes a little bit longer. But what are the other benefits I love is that this also gives you new content for your followers. One of the biggest challenges I hear people tell me about their marketing is that they feel like they've run out of content. This is a great way to get some new content in front of your followers to change things up a bit. Then another type of partnership marketing are Sponsorships and Influencers. Now these can be very expensive depending on how you structure them. In the case of sponsorship. This would be a company paying an amount of money to get their name, possibly their product, maybe promotional materials in front of an audience so you could sponsor an event. For example, with influencers it's very similar but it's usually working with one person. I would send, for example, I might send one of our gift boxes to an influencer for her to talk about on her social media platform. It can be more expensive. It doesn't necessarily have to mean paying for something. Again it could be product, but just keep that in mind. However, it does give you broader exposure to new audiences. And it also gives you social proof or endorsement. I personally think it's not always easy to measure the ROI on these types of thing. You can certainly set up specific links if you give people promotional materials. But I think there's an element of brand awareness there that is really hard to measure. Just keep that in mind. 4. Defining Your Goals: Now that we understand what partnership marketing looks like, let's talk about the first step which is defining your goals. For each partnership, you need to consider what your goals are. I've listed here three of what I think are the most popular goals for partnerships. You may have different ones and that's okay. But I think one of the most popular goals for partnerships is getting more followers or more email sign-ups. The second are your sales and conversions. Now, obviously we'd love to make lots of sales from every partnership we go into, but sometimes you need to think about whether or not a partnership is going to directly bring you in sales or whether it's simply going to grow your audience so that you can sell to them down the line. That's going to very much depend on what your product is, what your sales cycle looks like, and who the people are that are going to be benefiting from this partnership and this marketing campaign. The last is traffic and exposure, and this is the piece that is often times hard to measure. However, I still think that it's important to define your goals have them been be very specific as you go into each partnership. Speaking of specific, we want all of our goals to be SMART. If you're not familiar with this acronym, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, and Timely. To go over those really, really fast, specific is obviously a really specific goals. We want a 1000 website visitors versus we want to increase our website traffic. Measurable is something that you can actually measure. Again, we want 1000 website visitors versus we want more people to know about our company. Actionable is something that we can actually act on, something that can happen. Again, if we were using Website traffic, that would be something that we can actually make happen. Reasonable is something that's reasonable, that one's pretty simple. Timely is putting some time restraint on it. We might say we want 1000 website visitors in seven days. Regardless of what your goals are, make sure that they're SMART. 5. Finding the Right Partners: The next step is to find the right partners. I typically like to find brands that have impactful marketing already. I want to make sure that they've already got a good sense for what works in the marketing world. I also want to find brands that have similar target audiences. It doesn't help me to partner up with a company that is trying to reach new moms if my product is not at all relevant or interesting to new moms. I also think it's important to find brands with a complimentary aesthetic. For example, if my company is very light and airy and happy and pretty, I probably don't want to partner up with a company that has a very heavy, deep, passionate dark look, because then our graphics and our overall branding for our campaign are really going to be in conflict with each other. The last thing is to find a brand with something to benefit the partnerships. You want to make sure you're working with a brand that is going to bring something to the table as well. Make sure you're choosing a brand that is putting new content out there, has an audience that they're engaging with. Once you've chosen brands, you want to go ahead and evaluate them. Things I like to look for the first is competitive overlap. For example, the one I gave earlier was the mattress and the bedding. That's a perfect brand partnership because they're not competitors, but they go well together. The second thing you want to evaluate are the brands keywords. What keywords are their target audience searching for to find them? Now, you want to be careful here. You don't want to work with a brand that is fighting for the exact same keywords, but you do want to work with a brand that has similar keywords so that you're not both having different objectives for this campaign. The third is to evaluate their social media following. How many followers do they have on Instagram? How many likes? Page likes do they have on Facebook? Are they on Twitter? You also want to think about where they are and where you are. If you're heavily on Instagram and they're heavily on Twitter, that might not make sense. The fourth is to evaluate their engagement. I think that this one is often overlooked and hugely important. I've seen tons of brands that have huge followings on social media, but really poor engagement. Engagement is a sign of how interested and loyal their audience and their following is. If this is low, that's not a good sign. Another thing I look at as any past partnerships. I'll typically go to their Instagram account and see if I can find giveaways that they've done or promotions or any other partnerships they may have done and how do those look. The next one is to evaluate their web traffic. Though if you go to or you can also check out similar, you'll be able to see how much web traffic that they actually get. It'll also tell you what they're bounce rate is for their website. That's the percentage of people who are coming to their site and leaving immediately without really looking at the page. It will also give you some guidance on their keywords and what sources people are using to find that site. It's a good sign, in my opinion, if most of the clicks are going to the company's blog page, because that means that they're creating great content. The next thing I'd like to evaluate is what I call the Google test. This is where I Google the brand's name and I see what comes up first. Do they rank first, more other things coming up? I also see what other people are saying about the brand when I google them. Lastly, I'll check out the new section. Are they about to IPO? Are they releasing a new product? Are they having some challenges or struggles? Those are all things I'll find out when I do the Google Test. The last thing I'd like to do is what I call secret sleuthing. This is where I pretend to be one of their customers. I will start by going to their website and signing up for their newsletter, is there good content? How often are they sending me emails? What types of emails are they overly sales in? Are there calls to action on their emails or on their website good? Are they doing a good job with their marketing campaigns of getting their customers to engage? 6. Setting up the Partnership: Once I have evaluated the brand and I decided, you know what, they're awesome and I want to work with them and I'm so excited. I'm going ahead and send them that first email. In that first email, there are typically three sections that I would recommend having. The first is to start off by showing them that you know who they are. I've gotten so many emails from people wanting to work with me, where they've gotten the name of my company wrong. They misunderstood what my company does. They've made it very clear that they don't even know that my company exists. Make sure you show them that you know who they are, what they do, why would they do matters and what they're looking for. Show them that you know them. That should be your first paragraph. The second paragraph, and oftentimes the third too, is telling them who you are and how you can help. But I want to be very clear here why I think it's important to tell them who you are. In that second paragraph, I would make that "who you are" piece one sentence. I would take your elevator pitch and make it that five or 10 or 15 second version of your elevator pitch and that's your first sentence and then go into how you can help. Because if they're skimming that email, they most likely are, you need to tell them up front off the bat, here's what I can do to help you. You need to grab their attention. Then, in your third paragraph, you can go ahead and give them more details on who you are. But I think it's crucially important that you grab them early on by telling them how you can help them. Then in your last paragraph, you're going to give them the offer and the ask. I like to make this part super short. I do a quick wrap up, "Here's what I'm offering. Here is my ask." What I will often do is close with a selling statement. What do I mean by that? Well, in the example where I'm reaching out to influencers to send them a gift set for them to review, I will close my email by saying, "Please let me know where you would like me to send your complimentary gift set." I don't ask them. I tell them, "Please let me know where to send this." I am assuming the sale. I can tell you that has helped me so many times because when people see that it triggers in their mind, "Oh, I have to do something. Okay, let me respond it. I'll do it." They almost skip over the step of, "Do I want to do this?" Now, a couple of pro tips. Never send any attachment. I also like to track "Opens" and "Reads". I personally have used a few different tools in the past. Haver is wanted them, there are several others. If you Google, you'll be able to find some options, but I like to see when they've read it. This will help me structure my follow-up schedule. I also make sure to use an attention-grabbing subject line. Now, I don't make it spammy, but I do try and achieve something that hits them at home. What do I know about them and how can I craft that subject line to grab their attention? I make sure to include my website and my social media links. I can't tell you how many emails I've received, where this information isn't there, and then I have to go searching for it and usually I don't. I just don't have the time. Also, be specific about the benefits. We talked about the paragraph where you're going to tell them how you're going to help them. Be specific when you are explaining how you're going to help them. If you've done past partnership marketing campaigns, be specific about those results. Give them that social media proof. Then lastly, set a schedule to follow up. I always follow up, I would say probably 90 percent of my partnerships that I end up creating are a results of my follow-up emails. I rarely get responses to the first email. 7. Evaluating Your Success: Now that we've found are right partner, we've done the whole campaign, everything's completed, how do we assess whether or not it was valuable for us? The first thing we do is we look at our ROI. If you're not familiar with this term and this is your return on investment. What you got for what you gave. I like to think about three things when I'm evaluating my ROI: The first is I track my specific metrics. Remember in the beginning when we set our smart goals, now we go back and we look at how many followers did we gain? How many email sign-ups did we get? How many sales? How many $ spent? In terms of traffic, did that increase at all? Track those specific metrics. Next, I compare that to what I spent. If we did spend any money, we need to look at that. But I also look at the time spent. If we spent 40 hours to put together a marketing campaign and we got back $200, that's probably not worth it. If we spent two hours and we got back $4,000 and that probably is worth it. You need to factor in time just as much as you factor in $. Lastly, I work to understand the intangible benefits. Now this one is the hardest one and you're never going to have the perfect right answer for this, but I tried to look at, did we get more exposure for the business? Did we meet people who we were able to have conversations with, about what we do and get them excited about what we're doing? Did we gain more loyal followers? Maybe we didn't make a lot of sales, but maybe people were commenting and engaging with our brand, and they were really excited. We were getting people excited. I tried to look at all of those intangible benefits and to the extent I can, I try to quantify them. I also like to look at lessons learned. What worked well? What didn't work? I spend a lot of time talking about those two with my team and oftentimes with the other brand, depending on how the relationship went. If we're going to work together in the future, it's really important to know what didn't work this time. It's also good to know what did work well so that we could implement that into future partnerships, both with them and other brands. Lastly, I develop a plan to keep testing. If it's a brand that we're going to keep working with, will often talk about, hey, let's do that again, but try this or this. If it's not a brand we're going to keep working with, I will at least make notes of things that I want to test with other brands. It's so important to keep testing on these things and not just consider a partnership as success or failure the first time around. I hope that's been helpful to you, to help you understand how to create successful partnerships for your business. I've done various forms, a partnership marketing from in-person events, to giveaways, to creating content and cross promotions, and I've honestly found all of them to be successful in their own ways. However, I can honestly say that the reason why they were successful was because we did our homework upfront, made sure that we understood our goals, did our research to find the right partners, and completed appropriate analysis at the end to truly understand what worked well and what didn't and develop a plan for testing in the future. I hope you found this incredibly helpful, if you have any questions at all, please do reach out to me. You can find me at My website is and my Instagram is megkwheeler. Thanks much.