Maximize Fitness Business Growth Through Joint Ventures
Imagine having a team of other businesses and organizations out there promoting your offers and programs to their clients. Sounds pretty amazing right?
That’s one of the methods I used to grow my fitness studio and extend my reach in the community without having to spend money on advertising. Building up a list of Joint Ventures, basically Referral Partners, that are willing to promote you and your business is one of the fastest ways to gain traction. But, there’s a trick to making it work and most fitness business owners approach this the wrong way and kill the relationships before they start.
You may be more familiar with the terms strategic relationships or strategic partnerships. For now, assume these are all the same but we’ll be using Joint Ventures to refer to any business or organization that you will work with to help promote each other.
Finding A Common Interest
Many fitness business owners look to physical therapists, chiropractors, and other health professionals to establish these Joint Venture relationships. While this seems like an obvious partnership, most of the time it produces very few clients for the fitness professional. It’s not top of mind for these individuals to refer you clients and even if they do most of the time the patients or clients they work with are just trying to get out of pain. There’s a gap in their needs.
You can, however, greatly benefit these individuals businesses as your clients are often seeking solutions to enhance their performance in the gym. Getting them feeling and moving great helps you out. Don’t rely solely on these relationships to grow your business, but don’t disregard them either.
As you being planning your Joint Venture strategy the best place to look is with your current clients. Find out what businesses or organizations they current frequent. A simple question you can ask is “Hey [First Name], I’m looking to partner with a few other businesses or organizations in the community to help more clients. Who do you think would be a good fit for us?”
It’s funny how you’re clients will tell you exactly where to go if you want to find more people like them…but, you have to ask!
Chet Holmes, author of the Ultimate Sales Machine, recommends that business owners and sales people create a list of 100 other businesses or people they want to work with, no matter how outrageous. It’s called your Dream 100 and it’s your hot list for Joint Ventures.
Take a look at your community and make a list, even if you can’t get to 100, of the businesses, organizations or people you want to create Joint Ventures with to help each other.
Define Your Offers
Just like we have you define your Core Offer to help you plan your marketing it’s important to create a basic list of offerings for your Joint Venture partners. Now, you shouldn’t go and create new programs specific for them. You should create a promotional plan that you both can agree to following so that the relationship is beneficial.
One of the things that derails a Joint Venture partnership is a lack of clarity on what is supposed to be done and what the expectations are for each business or partner. If you go into a meeting trying to come up with a plan on the spot you’ll likely overcommit or leave things too vague to deliver a consistent result.
Create a few templates of a promotional schedule or Joint Venture agreements that you can present to the possible partner. This makes you look experienced and creates a respect from the other business owner or partner. Having a couple options for a Joint Venture agreement gives the impression you’ve done this before and removes the thinking for the possible partner.
Now, if the opportunity presents itself to get more creative you still have the option to add in terms to the agreement. It’s much easier to start with a foundation than create something from scratch.
This also leads into our bigger picture… THE STRATEGY!
Using Joint Ventures To Grow Your Business
Having a few partners to promote your offers is great, but having a Joint Venture Strategy that fits into your overall Marketing Strategy and that allows you to hit your business goals is even better.
If you are going to use Joint Ventures in your marketing put the time and effort into creating a strategy for it.
The first part of your strategy should be “how will I get these Joint Venture partners?”
You can start by mining your network, asking for introductions to your clients or even cold calling businesses from groups like BNI or the Chamber of Commerce. Set a goal for the number of new Joint Venture partners you will reach out to each week. The goal is to set a meeting to learn about their needs and present your agreement to them.
For example if you reach out to 5 new Joint Venture partners each week there’s a good chance you’ll set at least 1 meeting. If you hvae 1 meeting per week it’s likely you’ll get 1 new agreement and Joint Venture partner each month.
Working this system week after week will build up your bench of Joint Venture partners.
That’s a strategy at work! Now all you have to do is track the leads you get from Joint Ventures and optimize your marketing.
Value Exchange For Long Term Success
There must be a value exchange for this partnership to work! If you ask, ask, ask and never give back to your Joint Venture partners then the relationship won’t last long. Take time to do a lot of the front end work such as building out the promtoion schedule, creating cotnent and delivering ready-to-use, easy marketing materials.
Hey, I never said this was easy…
When you’re creating your agreement terms make sure you put something in of value for the Joint Venture partner.
Here are a few ideas:
- Challenge/Content Sponsorships
- Email Promotions
- Social Media Promotions
- Special Promotions
There are endless ways to get creative with your offers. Figure out what will get the best results and max exposure without disrupting your own marketing calendar.
If you read through all this and your stomach turned a little bit thinking of all the work and connections with other business owners then this probably isn’t for you! Find another offline marketing channel that is better suited to your skills and assets in your business.
When used correctly and the plan followed diligently Joint Ventures can be a very productive marketing method for a fitness business.
If you are excited by the idea of creating partnerships with other businesses then set your target for new contacts each week and start working the system!