3 Ways to Leverage Your Offline Business Relationships into Digital Partnerships

When you boil it down, business success hinges on one thing: relationships. Whether it’s with vendors and suppliers, industry partners and peers, staff members, clients, or prospects, relationships serve as the foundation upon which every business is built.

Bad relationships can hamper your company’s ability to grow and remain competitive, while good relationships pave the way for long-term progress and increased profits. Bob Burg sums up the importance of relationships in business beautifully in his book, The Go-Giver:

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people that they know, like, and trust.”

Most people involved in running a business understand this concept and work hard to network, establish connections, be helpful, and cultivate relationships with others in their industry. The strongest of these relationships are usually established in-person, whether it’s at a conference, trade show, charity event, job site, or happy hour.

This is great, but too often these relationships are built, maintained, and leveraged exclusively offline. Particularly in industries that are traditionally behind the curve when it comes to integrating digital strategies, companies that fail to leverage their offline relationships in the digital space are leaving valuable opportunities on the table.

Here are three ways to leverage those hard-earned offline business relationships into fruitful digital partnerships that benefit all parties involved.

Content

The value of content as a way to connect with customers, enhance credibility, and build your brand is undeniable. It’s the reason why content creation in all its forms (blogging, social media engagement, email, video, audio, graphics, etc.) continues to rank as a top factor contributing to overall marketing success.

Teaming up with your offline partners to establish digital content partnerships is a great way to compliment your ongoing content creation and inbound marketing strategy. You can leverage your relationships with vendors, contractors, suppliers, and non-competitive business partners to:

  • Syndicate content across their website, social media properties, email lists, etc.
  • Create an ongoing series or regular column that gives your partner great content, and provides your company with a new platform in front of a wider audience.
  • Explore branded content partnership opportunities that highlight the best in both of your organizations, and why customers benefit from your partnership.

Education

Ideally you’re building business relationships with the best and brightest in your industry. Why not tap into that knowledge to help educate shared target audiences as they move through the decision making process?

These join educational initiatives can take the form of live or pre-recorded webinars, online courses, digital seminars and conferences, and more. Again, the goal here is to provide both parties with an opportunity to build trust with a wider audience, build brand recognition and expertise, and develop a more educated customer.

Marketing

We’ve touched on some ways to leverage your offline business relationships to build on your digital inbound strategy with some additional “pull” marketing tactics. But what about “push” tactics?

Affiliate marketing isn’t new, but it’s been primarily utilized as a stand-alone business model for internet entrepreneurs and folks looking to make passive income. SMBs and large companies can also engage in affiliate marketing, only with the advantage of leveraging those valuable business relationships they’ve built over the years. Sending web traffic to a partner’s site, re-selling their published eBooks or buyer’s guides, or promoting their upcoming speaking engagement are a just a few ways to apply online affiliate marketing to your existing business relationships.

Co-Op advertising is another opportunity to take advantage of business partnerships and fuel online growth. Companies in supply chain industries are most likely to already be utilizing co-op marketing tactics, but there is a huge untapped opportunity for those co-op marketing dollars to be leveraged online as well.

What are some other ways your company is leveraging those hard-earned business relationships into digital wins?