I believe that developing strategic partnerships is one of the fastest and most cost effective ways of building your business. It should be one of the foundation elements that receive continual focus with direct goals in every quarter.

One of the big problems with strategic partnerships is that local businesses are constantly approached or solicited by others to do things, display things or post things that help other people grow their business. For the business being approached this generally just takes up valuable space and is a waste of time with little to no reciprocal benefit, which is why so many businesses won’t talk to you or have a standard practice of saying no.

Here are my five steps to overcoming this. Go with a giving hand and deliver real value that leads to mutually beneficial relationships.

Step 1: Interview the expert
I suggest between Google and your knowledge of the locale you find 15 top experts in your area, highly respected, well known, high traffic generating complimentary professionals that cater to your desired client. Ask to interview them for five minutes, preferably on camera with you in the image. Ask them three questions that let them talk about their expertise but try to skillfully ask questions that pertain to how fitness compliments or improves the quality of the product they provide, or simply information their customer may value to get the most from that service.

These videos should then be posted on YouTube. The names and descriptions of these videos should be direct matches to the name of the business you interviewed. The goal is to have that business's customers see the video as well as promoting it to your immediate list of clients and contacts. From this two important things can happen: First, the views provide third-party credibility to that expert and provide a measure to which you can immediately validate your efforts to provide them value and bring them new clients. (I have coaching clients who had videos that received well over 100 views in just a few days and every time this impressed the expert that was interviewed. Second, when posted on your website you elevate your own credibility dramatically by appearing in multiple videos with a variety of local experts.

Step 2: Sponsor your community
Choose a few businesses that you interviewed and "sponsor" them. Offer 'x' number of staff/clients a free/deep discount trial to try your services or gift of service for a handful of their top customers as a token of appreciation. This can provide immediate value to the business and open the door for you to exceed expectations and naturally get them talking about you.

Step 3: The charity lunch-and-learn
Provide your interviewees even more value by asking them which charity they like to support. Offer to host a charity lunch-and-learn at their location for customers and staff to receive free education in exchange for a donation. Your objective is to provide top content and give them a reason to "opt-in" for more by leaving you their contact information in exchange to send them more useful information. Never ever sell in this format or you won't be invited back.

Step 4: Cross promotion
Three times you've promoted the growth of a relationship that has made a real effort to deliver your strategic partner value. If you've made it this far the law of reciprocity should make it easy to discuss cross promotion. A leadbox will now work better as they will promote it.

Step 5: Revenue share
Solidify your relationship further by creating a trial product that they can sell. Last year I did this with a local chiropractic office that generated an extra $1,000 of revenue for them with just one email on one day and ultimately created 20 more leads for us. Each time we met with a lead we further validated the service and reputation of that practitioner, further strengthening our relationship with them. They now promote this product ongoing and we benefit from the few additional leads it brings each month.

Cabel McElderry, now known as the Profitable Personal Trainer, struggled as a solo personal trainer for nearly eight years before learning the strategies he needed to transform his barely six-figure business to a seven-figure (and growing) training studio in just a couple years. His studio (One-to-1 Fitness), now 5 years old, has won multiple awards for business excellence. Cabel has been recognized as one of the top 100 fitness entrepreneurs in North America and is currently one of 50 nominees for Optimum Nutrition's Canadian Trainer of the Year. Cabel still trains a handful of clients as his passion to help others will never fade but has also evolved. Cabel now also mentors fitness professionals in an effort to help them achieve similar or better results than his own. www.ProfitablePersonalTrainer.com

Topic: Entrepreneur Web Column

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