Saturday, January 19, 2008

Helping Hands

Reciprocity. Good karma. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. However you want to term it, small business owners helping other small business owners is…good for business.

The goodwill gestures can be as easy as displaying complementary business information at your location, as straightforward as mentioning good services to your clients, or as personal as passing out others’ cards. However you choose to go about it, sharing information is a win-win. Not only do you help another business owner and potentially your customer, but you benefit, too.

What's In It for Me?

By promoting complementary businesses and services, you create added value to your relationship with your customers. When you assist your customers in accessing quality products or solutions, you underscore your commitment to service. You demonstrate your knowledge of their needs, reinforcing that both you and your business are a resource.

Let Someone Else Do the Work

Spreading the word about related business news or offers can also solve one of your problems: having an excuse to “touch” (contact) your customers. Maybe you don’t want to lower prices, haven’t introduced a new product or service lately or don’t have the time to write a zesty, engaging letter to your customers. Let someone else do the work. As long as it’s a referral you feel good about, you benefit from putting it on your letterhead and sending it to your list. Including information from others in your regular newsletter is a great way to keep your materials fresh.

It All Comes Back

And finally—the obvious—when you help other businesses, they may be inspired to help you, too.

Here are some additional suggestions for good business karma:
  • Follow the cafĂ© example: hang a bulletin board and allow other businesses to post messages on it
  • Feature referral-of-the-month business cards at your point of purchase location
  • Note upcoming events at complementary businesses in your print newsletter
  • Introduce a new, complementary small business to your customers in an e-newsletter
  • Offer to share your space for complementary services by sole proprietors
  • Write a letter to your mailing list, including a special offer from a complementary service provider
  • Highlight a valuable service or product by a complementary business on your blog
  • Link to other small businesses on your Web site

This post was inspired by my massage therapist, Amanda, at Miss Fit. Not only does my monthly massage with her make my month (I’ve had to have ongoing massage therapy and chiropractic care for nearly a decade and Amanda stands out as one of the most effective therapists I’ve seen), but last week, she topped it by helping to share news of my new online maternity store to the prenatal fitness class at Miss Fit. Thank you Amanda for reminding me how good it feels to be helped by and to extend help to others.

No comments: