At MyDomaine, we know how challenging it is to turn your passion into a thriving business. Making that leap of faith takes courage and confidence, but seeing your dreams become a reality is more than worth the effort. One question, however, remains: Where do you begin? How do you transform that small and often simple idea into a profitable company? Well, we want to help. So we partnered with Above the Glass to give young entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, and edge to own their working lives. Today, we’re talking about getting the word out. Here, ATG’s two founders, Heather Serden (previous investment strategy analyst) and Danielle Yadegar (former fashion editor), guide you through their personal process.
At Above the Glass, we're often asked how people find out about us. And honestly, our top method for reaching the desired target audience is through carefully vetted strategic partnerships. In fact, the root of every decision we make is based on how we can execute our mission, raise awareness for our product, and reach that specific customer we have so carefully defined. So we find people to connect us with them. From media to event partners and female entrepreneurs, these relationships are critical to spreading the word about our company.
Take this article you're reading right now for example. This is a result of our content collaboration with MyDomaine, one of our highly valued strategic partners. But relationships like these don't happen overnight, and part of building a company is planning who you will work with, how you will court them, and how you will structure arrangements in a way that is mutually beneficial. Here are a few ways we find strategic partnerships.
"Businesses who support other businesses will go much further than ones who try to only promote themselves, and that is especially true in the women's business space."
The first thing to do when developing strategic partnerships is to determine who your target customer is and what brands they're currently attracted to. Do not confuse this with a list of competitors; instead, think of these businesses as potential collaborators who can benefit from upselling your product.
For example, Above the Glass provides very actionable and technical information on how to start a business. We have noticed that there are so many inspiring and empowering companies out there who are grooming their customers to become business owners. The missing piece of the puzzle is the technical business training, like Business School 101, that speaks to women in a language they understand.
The question we ask ourselves is this: Which companies are currently serving a smart, capable, and ambitious woman who dreams of owning a business? And more importantly, do the missions and values of these companies align with our own? Such companies can include networking organizations, co-working spaces, content sites, even apparel companies. The key is to think outside the box in terms of what type of product or service these businesses offer and think more specifically on the person they serve. Once you have a thorough and exhaustive list of who these businesses are, it’s time to start courting them.
There are multiple ways to approach companies (and their founders) to start developing partnerships, but the most effective way to do it is by getting a direct introduction. Go through your wish list of strategic partners and see if you have any mutual friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. It’s useful to have a brief paragraph on hand that describes your business, your mission, your product, and you! When asking for direct introductions, it is common to send an email to your mutual friend explaining why you would like to meet this particular person, laying out what you hope to achieve from the intro, and including the paragraph describing your company so that the entire email can be forwarded on to the desired recipient.
Hopefully, your mutual connection is strong enough to elicit a response, but if you don’t have one, always take a chance writing a blind email to the person you are hoping to reach. There are multiple ways to guess their direct email address, especially if they are a founder (e.g., [firstname.lastname@example.org]). If the direct email fails, try a general contact email provided on their website, or send them a direct message on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. You never know what will catch their attention. Always include a request for an in-person meeting so you can form a true human connection with them and see if you are the right match for one another. It is important to have an authentic and genuine connection with anyone you decide to do business with.
Once you find the businesses you click with, the fun really begins. Brainstorming ways to bring your strategic partnership to life becomes more creative and innovative than ever. What used to involve paid advertising and publicists has become an extension of true friendships. Businesses who support other businesses will go much further than ones who try to only promote themselves, and that is especially true in the women’s business space. Women who help other women are our heroes, and we think female customers appreciate that mentality from companies they support as fans or as paying consumers.
If you have a physical product such as a handbag line, why not create exclusive runs that are a collaboration of both brands? One of our business role models (and an excellent example of the ultimate collaborator) is Clare Vivier of Clare V. She collaborates with top artists and brands in town, in addition to worthwhile nonprofits like Every Mother Counts. Her ability to find like-minded businesses to collaborate with only elevates her brand, increases her visibility, and reinforces the integrity of her product.
Another meaningful way to form brand collaborations can be established in the same way you form traditional friendships: socializing. Co-hosting events that promote one another or promote an experience related to your product can introduce your respective audiences to each other’s businesses in a fun and authentic way. Give attendees the opportunity to experience what you have to offer before becoming a regular customer. Live events can often draw press attention that reaches far beyond the number of event attendees.
Reap the Benefits
One of the most rewarding parts of our job is collaborating with inspiring female entrepreneurs who’ve gone through the process of starting a business. We love to do a deep dive into their business and profile them on our site. The purpose of these interviews is to gather information and insight from their experience, but in a much more explicit and raw way than you would find on more inspirational websites. We ask people about their greatest challenges, how they obtained funding, their fears, and their failures. While we all have to go through our own trials and tribulations when starting a business, it helps to hear from other women who have been there and done that.
We have gained invaluable friendships and advocates for our business from these simple content collaborations. We target women we admire, and we ask for their help with things as simple as advice or a social media mention. Their open and honest stories add credibility to the product we’re building. Associating our brand with their success and visibility draws attention to our website from their legion of fans. Some of the most rewarding and inspiring moments in building our startup have included meeting these women who have often single-handedly changed the course of our company.
It’s important to form authentic and relevant relationships with strategic partners so that they last. Fleeting and opportunistic pairings can be transparent to your consumers and therefore counterproductive in building brand integrity. Also, conducting any business should be fun, and nothing makes work more enjoyable than doing it with people you love. We wake up excited every day to work on our business, not only because we are passionate about the mission we are serving and the product we are building but most importantly because of the incredible people we have teamed up with along the way.
We all get busy, but it’s important to at least try to reach out every few months to the partners who’ve helped elevate your business closer to its full potential. And be sure to stay updated on what’s happening in their companies too. You never know when you will have the opportunity or the pleasure to collaborate with these partners again, and in the best strategic partnerships, everyone benefits. Why not keep those doors open for future collaborations?
What are your key tips for getting the word out about your business? Share them with us.