Create a Successful Collaboration

create a successful business collaboration windy lawson

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Once you’ve decided to harness the power of collaboration and create your own supergroup, à la The Traveling Wilburys {or Velvet Revolver, or…  this analogy is quickly becoming a slippery slope for me}, you need to do a little deep-thinking before you start reaching out to your business network. To create a successful collaboration, start with these four questions.

#1: What is the goal of the collab?

There are a million {slight exaggeration} reasons to collaborate with another microbusiness owners. Do you want to increase sales, increase your exposure in your existing market, add value for your customers, tap into a new market, launch a new product or marketing channel, support a non-profit organization? Start by figuring out what your primary goal for the collaboration is.

#2: Determine what you want in a collaborator

She probably does not have the same exact offering as you, but she likely has a similar client avatar, so that her customers and your customers share similar characteristics.

She has to have something you want, and she has to want something you have.

She needs to be open to ideas and willing to bring her A-game to the table to benefit the collab.

Pro Tip: Resist the urge to start naming people you think would be collaborators. Instead, focus on the skills, the following, and the other assets that your dream collaborator would bring to the table.

#3: Define what you bring to the table

We’ve got to slay a mindset beast here and I’m just going to have a quick #BestieRealTalk with you. You bring something to the table. You do. There is value in your training and skills, your customer service, your creativity, your following… You have to know your value and what you are bringing to the table if you want others to work with you. Now is not the time to believe “Well, I have a following of 500 people, which I know is small compared to others…”

You bring a lot to the table. Embrace it and get clear about it, m’kay.

#4: Define the timeframe

Are you looking for a short-term collaboration, like a time-sensitive promotion, or an ongoing, lasting business relationship in a long-term collaboration?

When do you want it to start? And when do you want it to end?

Now what?

Start thinking about what the collaboration could look like. Here are some of my favorite ways to create a successful collaboration.

  • Gift Guide: Create a digital guide showcasing a few products from each collaborator and share with each members’ following.
  • Product bundles: Create an exclusive bundle that includes product from each collaborator. This could be paid or free products (like digital downloads) depending on the goals of your collab.
  • Collaborative product line: Create a new product or product line
  • Product placement: Include each other’s samples with purchases.
  • Co-op advertising: Split the cost of advertising or event space by working together.
  • Guest posting: Write guest posts on each other’s blogs.
  • Social media takeover: Take over each others social media accounts for one day.
  • Live event: Create your own event, either in-person or virtual.
  • Host a pop-up event in a brick and mortar. When I sold jewelry, one of my favorite {and most successful} collaborations was with a local, upscale resale {AKA consignment} shop. We both promoted my pop-up booth in her shop and benefited from increased traffic, new customers and increased sales.
  • Reviews/shout outs for each others services or products
  • Affiliate or referral programs
  • Long-term collaborations, like creating a podcast, blog or community; creating a series of events; developing a mastermind group.

When you start thinking creatively, you’ll see how easy it is to create a successful collaboration. To see a real-world example, check out this collaboration I participated in.

Ready to pitch your own collaboration? Check out these steps to creating a successful pitch.

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