What do Henry Schein, Hills Science Diet, and VPI have in common? They all owe part of their success to strategic partnerships.
Of course, there are many, many other companies that partner with veterinarians across the country in order to sell products. This practice isn’t exclusive to the veterinary industry.
Famous Strategic Partnerships include:
- Starbucks- Barnes and Noble, Craft, United Airlines, and NAACP
- Apple- Sony, Motorola, Phillips, and AT&T
- Hewlett Packard and Disney
Strategic partnerships can be as simple as agreeing to refer customers to each other or you can commit to combining resources using promotional tools. Each business’s “product” appears on the other one’s turf. For example, the Burger King / Spider Man 2 sales promotion featured Burger King advertisements in the movie. In return, the restaurant was decorated in a “Spidey” theme and patrons were given Spider Man 2 cups.
The goal is to lower the cost of customer acquisition. In other words, you get more new clients but you spend significantly less money on promotional campaigns. The key to developing a profitable alliance is to look for what is known as “target influencers. ” These people are the the movers and shakers of the pet industry. In essence, you are hacking into another business’s success.
You want to ensure that any alliance you form shares the same vision and values as you. If your practice discourages “discount shoppers,” then don’t expect to gain quality clients by partnering with a breeder who mass produces cheap pets. On the other hand, if you are just looking for volume visits regardless of how much a client spends, then a wholesale pet supply store may work. Potential partners are:
- Breeders (high quality)
- Veterinary Specialists
- Emergency Clinics
- Pet Resorts
- Pet Product Suppliers
You can get quite creative when coming up ways to maximize the opportunities in a strategic partnership. For example, you may offer each other’s customers exclusive deals. You may pass out promotional items, such as personalized leashes, ink pens or business card magnets.
A breeder promotion might include a certificate for free puppy vaccines with every wellness exam purchase. (A word of caution- don’t flip this to say a free exam with purchase of vaccines. Remember, a vaccine costs you less than $2.00, whereas 15 minutes of your time is much more valuable. You also change how a client views the value of exams if you hand them out for free.)
Strategic partnerships can have a positive effect on your marketing efforts. Don’t forget though, just like other advertising activities, you need to keep an eye on how well your campaign is performing.
Building a good alliance requires networking, planning, and nurturing. If you can arrange for the partnership to be exclusive, then you have an added advantage over your competition. The reward is a simple, low cost way to gain new clients without a lot of fuss.