But as businesses grow and gain a foothold in the marketplace, it often no longer makes sense to try to do it all. Let’s face it. If a company’s top salesperson is shuttling mail to the post office when she could be calling on clients, that company has a problem.
That’s when smart, small companies look for a business partner–another company that can take care of important tasks that they don’t have the time or talents to handle well.
What makes a partnership work? Here are my thoughts on what companies should look for in their partners. I’ll use our partnership with Smiley Pete Publishing as an example.
The best partners offer:
A good partner will do more listening than selling. When we sit down with potential new clients, we ask them to tell us all about their business and the challenges it faces. When I first met with the owners of Smiley Pete Publishing, it didn’t take long to see that they needed way to distribute their magazines that was less labor-intensive and time-consuming than the door-to-door delivery system they were using. But they were also a small company, with limited funds. We came up with a way for Smiley Pete to not only mechanize and simplify its distribution system but to create a revenue stream too. It was a solution that suited the small publishing company, but its not one I would suggest for every client. Every company is different.
Small to mid-size companies–at least the ones that make it–aren’t lumbering and slow. They are quick and nimble, always changing and open to innovation. These companies are best served when they pick partners that take the same approach to business. In our case, we have grown and expanded over the last 40 years, adding new services and technologies. So, as clients like Smiley Pete grow, we are ready to offer them new and better ideas.
For example, when Smiley Pete decided to go in a new direction and launch a subscription-based business magazine, we were right there to design a system to manage those subscriptions and the mailing list needed for that magazine. As Smiley Pete has tweaked the distribution of the free community magazines that are its backbone, we have sat together in our conference room, using Google Maps’ street view feature to evaluate neighborhoods so that Smiley Pete can expand and adjust the areas in which its free magazines are distributed.
You want a partner that looks at your company in terms of a long-term relationship. Smiley Pete knows it can always turn to us when there are questions about mailings or if it has problems with the U.S. Postal Service. We are a consultant and advocate for our clients.
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