How Local Business Owners Can Create Brand Alliances
Local businesses have a few things going for them, from their ability to quickly shift strategies, to the fact that most American consumers appreciate local brands and the contributions they make to both their communities and the economic diversity of their areas. Take for example two Rhode Island favorites, Del’s Lemonade and Naragansett Brewery, whose combined product, a shandy beer exclusive for the Summer, has been a major hit. These two local mainstay brands combined their marketing to create a wildly popular product. While both of these companies have grown to serve markets beyond their hometowns, the principle behind their strategic decision remains something that smaller business owners can take note of and incorporate into their own strategies.
Create a joint branded item. In the spirit of the Del’s and Gansett’ union, business owners can reach out to complementary businesses to sound out whether or not they would be interested in pursuing joint branded products. The benefit of this is that when one item is sold, both the business will benefit from greater brand exposure, and should consumers enjoy the joint product, they may be more inclined to look into both brand’s stand alone products as well. Ideally, both businesses will have strong enough branding in place that the union of the two will increase desirability of the product intrinsically, but a smaller brand can also license out the branding of a larger one to gain exposure through their name recognition. Conversely, larger brands are often seeking popular local brands to associate themselves with. Avoiding some of the messier results of a re-branding campaign, businesses still will expose themselves to a broader audience then through their original branding efforts alone.
Co-sponsor an event or series. Not all small businesses have products that can be easily combined with others or tweaked to incorporate other branding, yet even so, they can still team up with other local brands. Something as large scale as a buy local campaign that gets small businesses all around the area involved, to a jointly sponsored event, seminar or even digitally hosted series can be a way that two businesses with complementary goals and branding can put something together when their products aren’t able to be combined.
Provide two way referrals. Referrals are one of the strongest types of lead out there, so it when brands are able to provide referrals for each other, they can quickly cement a strong relationship as well as make a lot more sales. When referrals are exposed to joint branding, it is one more contributing factor that can allow new customers to more fully trust a new business and create a deeper relationship more quickly.
Photo Credit to WPRI