When Jeff Hill, owner of a Seattle
1-800-GOT-JUNK franchise, partnered with Frogbox, the reusable
boxes helped him haul junk and
help the environment.
Marketing to make it work While forward momentum may spark a desire to act immediately, ranson stresses the importance of having a very clear agreement hat spells out the roles for each party. “Do not even think of engaging a single resource until you do have a signed agreement,” she says. “Having an agreement in place helps eliminate unknowns and provides a level of security for
once an agreement is in place, promo-
tion should be one of the benefits of the new-
found synergies and combined resources.
“tight budgets are one of the reasons that an
alliance makes sense,” says ranson. “Maybe
one partner has marketing money while the
other has manpower to help initiate a grass-
roots type of campaign.”
planning an effective marketing program
should be one of the first joint activities, Blaskie
says. “Be sure to consider casual and structured
marketing avenues [social media, new client
collateral, etc.],” she adds. “regardless, the goal
should be finding and leveraging cross-promo-tional opportunities that make both parties
more attractive to their clients.” C
BRIAN BARR PHOTOGRAPH Y
Stretch your business opportunities
through strategic alliances
By Peter Fretty
Most entrepreneurs are stubbornly
independent by nature—it helps them survive.
However, great results can come from pursuing strategic alliances with like-minded firms,
in terms of both finding exciting ways to serve
existing customers and enter new markets.
Doug Burgoyne, Costco member and
founder of Vancouver, British Columbia–
based Frogbox, knows firsthand how having a
strategic partner can open up a world of new
opportunities. After finding success renting
plastic boxes to movers as an environmentally
conscious alternative to cardboard, Burgoyne
knew that he could repeat his model outside
the Vancouver market.
Burgoyne’s expansion plan received a
boost after he embraced 1-800-Got-JunK as
a strategic partner. “It was a matter of thinking
big and not being intimidated to present [my]
company to one that is 10, even 100, times bigger,” he says. “After all, big corporations look
for added benefits as well.”
ultimately, Frogbox was able to launch its
seattle operation much sooner than Burgoyne
initially planned. “We’ve been able to leverage
our partner’s skills and experience to more
quickly ramp up business in seattle,” he says.
“In return, our partner is now able to offer his
customers an eco-friendly service when they
values, explains Dallas, texas–based Costco
member and business coach Ann ranson.
“This requires knowing your own strategy,
target market, goals and objectives,” she tells
The Connection, “followed by doing the
research to find other companies that might
be a match. You want to be sure that you also
share similar values and ethics.”
Likewise, the individual offerings must
pair well. The goal should be finding complementary partners to offer something new to
your clientele while also allowing you to serve
According to erin Blaskie—Costco member and founder of Kanata, ontario–based
Business services, etC—success comes to
those who embrace creativity while taking
the initiative to present their case to prospective partners. “Always put together a plan that
outlines the steps and the pieces for them, so
it [is] a no-brainer on their end,” says Blaskie,
whose firm provides an array of professional
services designed to help companies solidify
their online presence.
For instance, when Blaskie recognized
the potential in partnering with Boise, Idaho–
based help-desk-software developer Kayako,
she established a simple yet effective framework sure to attract Coo ryan Lederman’s
attention. “They provide a software that our
clients need to help them manage their customer support,” she says. “We showed how
forming a relationship would provide more
value to our clients, while providing Kayako
with an active and targeted potential customer base.”
Peter Fretty writes on small-business issues.
You can reach him at
Picking the best partners
of course, pairings of this nature rarely
happen by chance—they take determination,
consideration and action.
There has to be a good fit with congruent
• Expecting everything. Always
temper your expectations. “The goal of
entering an alliance should be to find sustainable congruencies capable of yielding
long-term mutual benefits,” says business
coach Ann Ranson.
• Holding back. Find a level of comfort in sharing. “Trust is instrumental in
making it through the tough times and
establishing a genuine relationship,”
says Frogbox founder Doug Burgoyne.
• Festering feelings. Immediately
address issues. “Festering problems or
concerns will destroy an alliance quickly,”
says Michael Brooke, a Costco member
and founder of Thornhill, Ontario–based
skateboarding magazine Concrete Wave.
• Winging it. Demonstrate clear
value in making a proposal. “If it’s too
lopsided your way, it just turns into
another sales pitch,” says Burgoyne.—PF