How to Scale with Strategic Partnerships - Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies

How to Scale with Strategic Partnerships

By Jason Swenk on March 1, 2017

Tired of relying on referrals? Teaming with right strategic partners is an effective way to scale your agency. The trick is knowing how to find, leverage and maintain the right strategic partnerships.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • How agency owners can get out of their own way of agency growth.
  • Finding, approaching and maintaining beneficial strategic partnerships.

As a serial entrepreneur, Vincent D’Eletto has learned all about rapidly scaling startup businesses. He owns multiple revenue-generating websites, as well as WordAgents.com, a content and ghostwriting agency. Vincent shares the best ways to find, leverage and maintain highly beneficial strategic partners. And, I know what you’re thinking but I’m not talking about just having other businesses refer you out. Real strategic partners are much more than just referrals. When strategic partnerships are done right, both partners can generate some serious revenue!

Systems & Processes Win (Again)

Hands down, the fastest way to grow and scale is having the right systems and processes in place. This is especially true in businesses where there is a lot of repetitiveness. Vincent and I both agree; your business will grow when you take advantage of efficiencies and systemize routine tasks.

Yet, despite having the right systems and processes, a lot of agency owners stand in their own way of growth.

Vincent says the common theme among his businesses is his constant struggle to give up control. He is afraid to hire employees or hand things off for fear they’ll “mess up” what he’s built. This is actually pretty common for most entrepreneurs. A lot of agency owners think they’re the best, and it’s that mindset which holds them back from real growth. What most of us need to remember is: you’re not the best, you’re just the best you have right now.

Over time, Vincent has come to realize the solution to this struggle is having the right systems and processes in place. Training people in your systems and processes leaves very little margin for error and significantly lowers the possibility that they’ll “mess up”.

Identifying Strategic Partners

You’ll get the most traction from a strategic partnership if your agency has a specialization or niche. When you are known for helping a specific audience you’ll be more attractive to other businesses who are targeting the same.

There are 3 categories where you’ll find strategic partners to align with:

  • industry leaders
  • agencies with complementary offerings
  • industry-specific technology tools or SaaS products

Approaching a Strategic Partner

After identifying a few partners, the best way to get them to notice you is to just be helpful. Follow them on social media, share and retweet them. Comment on their posts and tag them on relevant posts. Develop a relationship where there is mutual value… Whatever you’re hoping for from them, do it first. Make a deposit before you make a withdrawal.

Vincent says once he has built a rapport over social media, then he’ll reach out with a direct message or email. He’ll usually offer free content or provide a solution to a particular challenge of theirs. Depending on your comfort level, you can also try a direct approach and tell them exactly what you want and why. I find that being direct eliminates suspicions like wondering, “what’s the catch?”. Tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing… explain what’s in it for you.

Maintaining Strategic Partnerships

It takes time to establish and grow these relationships. You have to be committed to the long game. Once you do, it’s an amazing way to get in front of new people within your target audience. Vincent’s best advice about maintaining strategic partnerships is to be a friend. “Keep giving and it will come back to you.”

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