How to Grow Your Business with Local Partners
Building Customer Loyalty by Creating Local Partnerships
While your primary focus as a small business is on the individuals and families who visit your shop or stand, don’t ignore other opportunities. For example, local partnerships between businesses benefit both parties. Here’s why you should invest some effort in creating local partners and how to sell the idea of customer appreciation through food.
The Benefits of Local Business Partners
While consumers will spend a limited amount on your products when they come in, business purchases can easily become regular high-dollar orders. It only makes sense to seek out these profitable transactions when you can. But there’s more than just the direct correlation to a sale that should strike your interest.
- Your brand will get exposure to an entirely new set of potential customers. Whether it’s a bank, a car dealership, a brewery, or a healthcare facility, the other company’s customers may never have heard of your shop before. But with a partnership, many of those new people will now know your name.
- You’ll gain new loyal fans in the form of your partner’s employees. Provide delicious products, offer good customer service, and please their own customers, and you’ll likely get some business from staff and their families as well.
- You can help other local businesses succeed, and get a reputation for community involvement. People love to see local companies beat the odds, and a partnership makes each business stronger.
Pitching a Gourmet Popcorn Partnership
Building customer loyalty is important for any business. People notice how they’re treated and it pays to make them feel valued. In fact, the cost of acquiring a new customer is 5-25 times higher than keeping a current one. So it’s well worth it for businesses to put effort into making their existing customers happy.
Customer appreciation is an especially valuable and easy strategy for service industries. When looking for businesses to approach with your partnership idea, consider these kinds:
- Car dealerships
- Healthcare facilities (hospitals, retirement communities, etc.)
- Breweries, wineries, and bars
- Real estate agents
- Universities/alumni groups
Focus on local offices, but also don’t forget branches of national chains; it can be good for them to be seen connecting with the community and promoting another local business – yours!
When you’ve chosen some target businesses, arm yourself with convincing reasons they should choose your business and products. Discuss how food creates a welcoming environment for their customers, is affordable, and will attract attention. Remind your prospective partners that customer experience is on track to overtake price and product as the main differentiator for brands. Investing in customer appreciation strategies is a small price to pay for loyalty.
Ideas for Customer Appreciation
Use these ideas as ways to pique the interest of your potential partner. Be open to any concerns or questions they may have about how a strategy could work for their industry and help them choose the one that will work best for them.
- Create a branded gift for the business’s in-store customers. A small bag of gourmet popcorn printed with the company’s logo is a simple way to acknowledge their customers.
- Help them host an event. A public customer appreciation day containing a popcorn bar and other fun stations works great. The company could also hold a private event for their best customers, offering gourmet popcorn pairings with wine or beer, by invitation only.
- Package personal gifts to be mailed. Sending a gift to a client after landing their business is a great way for companies to stay top of mind.
- Offer a discount. Customers who mention the business when they visit your shop can get a certain percentage off their purchase or a free item.
Remember to be extremely responsive and available, especially at the beginning of the partnership, so that your contact knows they can rely on you. By keeping the company and their customers in mind, you’ll help strengthen their business as well as your own.