How local collaboration can help your small business grow

The power of small business collectives has never been greater.

When the economic crisis hit, small businesses in Britain and United States banded together to survive and compete. But here in Australia, why should we wait for a crisis to enjoy the advantages of collaboration?

For many small businesses, it’s only by joining forces that you can achieve economies of scale and have a voice that’s loud enough to be heard over the big guys.

There is a kaleidoscope of ways you can work with local businesses. At one end of the scale, businesses are running whole marketing campaigns together. At the other end, they’re swapping ideas and promoting each other’s brands to expand their own reach.

Here are five inspiring reasons to collaborate with your business neighbours:

1. Get a better deal:

Pool your resources and budgets to get a better deal with marketing services and advertising. Maybe your neighbours have a fantastic website design agency they can share, and in return you can share your copywriting or PR contact. When it comes to advertising, the simple fact is you have better buying power as a group. Radio ads, newspaper inserts, display ads, even television suddenly becomes much more accessible when you approach them as a group. And local media outlets are far more likely to come to the party if they know they’re helping not one, but multiple local businesses.

2. Channel surfing:

When it comes to marketing communications, every small business has its own strength. Perhaps you have a great social media following, or a direct mail newsletter that is well received by a specific group of consumers? Other small businesses might have sponsorships that they can leverage, or a regular e-newsletter. By promoting each other’s brands in your own channels, your collective reach becomes far greater.

3. Joint deals:

Join forces to offer bigger, better deals to local customers. With this activity, it’s especially important you work with like-minded businesses to ensure you’re reaching the right audience. Once you’ve decided on the appropriate deal, get the message out there using your combined communication channels – on-pack promotions, letterbox advertising, newspaper inserts, in-store displays, etc.

4. Spread the news:

Show your local customers that you’re working with other local businesses. Why not work together on a newsletter for the local community? Include special deals and profiles of the businesses involved, and target your combined markets. The goal of the newsletter should also be to encourage consumers to support their local economies by choosing local businesses. In the process, other small businesses out there may see the newsletter and want to get involved.

5. Two heads are better than one:

It can be lonely out there for a small business – especially if you’re a sole trader. Who do you bounce ideas off? Who do you share your goals with? You don’t need to have a formal partnership arrangement to enjoy access to a wealth of varied commercial insight, expertise and ideas. Open your mind and who knows where the relationship will go? Some small businesses are even co-creating completely new products together! Others create events that they could never have imagined on their own.

Remember:

Small businesses need to look at each other as partners, not competitors. But choose wisely. Consider alliances that will bring value to your own customers, as well as an opportunity for you to expand your visibility to new audiences.

About the Author

Chloe He – Marketing Communications Officer – Local Direct Network (LDN)

With a robust acumen in marketing and communications, Chloe is passionate in making marketing easy for SMEs. Chloe’s a whiz at producing obtainable creative ideas & insight to inspire small businesses to get the most out of their business and marketing activities. Follow Chloe on Google+ and LinkedIn.

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