Author: Cassie Gasaway
Is putting together an elevated box blind easier alone or with friends? Unless you’re the Hulk, your answer was probably the latter. Working with friends and community members makes growing your business easier, too. Because people have unique connections and run in different circles, it’s in your best interest to work with them to push your business forward.
It takes a village. Partnering with other community groups and businesses can help you generate business attention, recruit newcomers, host events or simply encourage people to try archery. Although it might be intimidating to start conversations surrounding potential partnerships, it doesn’t have to be. Use this four-step approach to get started.
Step 1: Research Potential Options
Identify businesses or organizations that likely approve of archery and bowhunting. Nearby boat dealers, park-and-recreation departments and local chapters of conservation groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation or Ducks Unlimited are probably obvious partners, but you should try to expand your options. Potential partners could also include banks, cafes, clubs, schools, churches, farm stores and national organizations like the 4-H Club, Salvation Army Outdoors and others.
Seek to find options that might have the same goals as you, whether those goals are to provide a service, create new customers or get more people outdoors. Having similar goals can help you work together to achieve them. Also, don’t limit your partner options by making assumptions or thinking narrow-mindedly. You might be surprised to find that the owner of your nearby coffee shop is a bowhunter. Finding that tidbit of information is the perfect gateway to building relationships and finding new opportunities.
Step 2: Brainstorm What You Want, Need and Can Offer
Next, think of things that would make your business better. Do you need more customers, a better marketing plan, or sponsors for your next archery or bowfishing tournament? Create a wish list of things you need or ways you’d like to improve your business.
At the same time, determine your strengths and what you could offer to other businesses. Do you have a booming customer rewards program? Did you take a helpful class on inventory or website management that provided informational gems you could share with others? Or are the majority of your customers in a certain age range that might resonate with the activities offered by another local business?
Brainstorm how you could help other businesses succeed based on the information or services you have. You’ll want to leverage these things when you ask potential partners for what you want in exchange.
Step 3: Create Partnership Proposal Documents
Once you establish some potential give and take options, create a formal document for each potential partner that explains why and how you could work together. There’s not a one-size-fits-all partnership agreement so each proposal will likely be unique and different because of what you have to offer them and what they could potentially offer you. In other words, what you give to, and get from, each entity will vary based on the situation, and your combined goals, motivations and expectations.
To create a relevant proposal, you’ll probably want to do a little more research to help define specific components for each partner. For example, if you notice your church has a booming youth group but struggles to post anything on their social media account, you could show them the benefits of posting and how to schedule posts in advance in exchange for referrals or a list of youths who want to try archery. Or, if you have a different target audience than a nearby business, you could co-promote an event to reach a wider audience.
In today’s world, you can’t just put your hand out and wait for someone to put something in it, nor can you expect someone to do something for you without giving them something in return. Approach each situation and partnership with purpose and intention by creating a thorough proposal. Doing so will also give you the confidence you need to tackle Step 4.
Step 4: Connect to Discuss the Opportunity
Once you’ve done the legwork, it’s time to get in touch. Give your potential partner a call or send them an email, and invite them to a sit-down conversation about partnership opportunities. You can meet anywhere but remember, the goal is to create a mutually beneficial partnership agreement focused on business. If you suggest to meet over coffee or dinner and they agree, it’s courteous to offer to pay.
Start the meeting by openly discussing your business and give them a chance to share, in their own words, what they do. Each party should have time to talk. You don’t want to consume or dominate the conversation. This gives you each time to learn about the other business and brainstorm ways to work together. Then show them your proposal, but mention it’s a rough outline and can be adjusted or tweaked as necessary. Share why you want to work together and how you can work together. Also, explain how using each other’s strengths and network can help you both achieve your goals. Listen carefully to their feedback and work together collaboratively until you’re both happy with the partnership agreement.
Remember to be flexible and open to their ideas. If you can’t agree on something right away, don’t worry. If you still see value in their organization and the potential opportunities, agree to meet again for another brainstorming session. Either way, the point is to create a long-lasting partnership where both entities work together to gain value over several months or years. The last thing you want is a one-time “thanks to our partners” mention and then both parties move on. Allow the partnership details to grow and evolve over time. Schedule quarterly meetings to talk about your needs or upcoming plans and opportunities.
If you want more ideas or need help crafting a proposal, contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s senior manager of outreach, at (507) 233-8146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.