Host-beneficiary marketing is a simple and fast way to attract and gain many customers for start-ups. This tactic involves forming partnership with host company targeting similar to yours audience by creating a mutually beneficial offer:
The beauty of this arrangement is that the startup (the beneficiary) can instantly reach large numbers of highly qualified prospects with the tacit endorsement of the established business (the host). The host is willing to participate because it’s a way to reward loyal customers without incurring any costs. The rookie gains new customers, while the veteran gains goodwill.
Women’s Clothing and BMWs
One startup that successfully used this technique was a high-end women’s clothing boutique. The store arranged to give a free silk kimono to every female customer of a local BMW dealership who brought in a letter sent by the dealership offering the gown as a gift for their past patronage. The kimono had to be picked up at the boutique.
More than 600 women responded, picking up $100 kimonos that cost the store just $16 apiece. Those 600 women spent an average of $400 on other merchandise during their initial visit. Do the math, and you’ll see that the startup spent $9,600 to generate some $240,000 in sales–and, not incidentally, to begin building its own clientele.
Six Steps to Success
Host-beneficiary marketing involves following a few basic rules:
1. Precisely define your target audience. “Women 35 to 55” might be a start, but it’s not enough. Create a detailed profile of your target customer. The more segments you can identify, the more potential hosts you can approach.
2. Identify local businesses that serve the same market segments. That way, you can not only bring people in the door for your initial offer, but also increase the likelihood that they’ll return to give you repeat business.
3. Develop a clear offer for each prospective partner. Come up with a free or deeply discounted product or service that has a high perceived value for the consumer with a low dollar cost for you.
4. Pitch the plan, highlighting the benefits to the host business. Emphasize that it’s a way for the established business to reward their customers at no expense and with virtually no effort. It’s also a way to reach out to customers without overtly trying to make a new sale.
5. Supply a letter for the host’s use. Providing a draft “offer” letter that can be sent to the host’s customers on the host’s letterhead will help put the plan into motion quickly. It will also show the partner how easy it will be for him to participate.
6. Develop a strategy to convert redeemers to repeat customers. This, after all, is your long-term goal. For the women’s boutique that gave away a kimono, the strategy was to encourage browsing and lure shoppers into dressing rooms to try the merchandise. For one new bakery that gave away a chocolate éclair, the approach was to hand out a buy-five-get-one-free VIP card with the free pastry.