How Partnerships Can Keep You Connected During COVID-19
By Meredith Simmons
It's been several weeks since many businesses were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fitness businesses have started streaming, beauty businesses have turned to retail and stop-gap video consultations, and wellness businesses have started doing a combination of it all.
There is no telling how much longer businesses will be closed, and you may be ready to explore additional options on how to build community and engage with customers new and old while you wait. One of the best options for that? Partnerships.
There are three types of partnerships to consider as you build out a strategy. Here's a little more about them, and a bit of guidance from businesses who have been exploring partnerships already.
In cross-regional partnerships, businesses in different neighborhoods, cities, states, or even countries partner together to share content or customers. The benefit of this type of collaboration is reduced worry about competition, even if you are in the same industry. Code 5 Fitness in Sydney, Australia, set up cross-regional partnerships to help round out what on-demand video the gym is offering customers.
The fitness studios created a joint schedule where members at each location could see options at each gym and when. When selecting his partners, Pettersson said that he was careful to identify businesses that shared Code 5's values—and were far enough away that there wasn't competition for members. "We did make a decision that we didn't want to make any gyms close enough that when it all finishes, they could decide to go there instead," Pettersson said.
In a cross-industry partnership, businesses partner with someone a little closer to home that offers an entirely different set of services. Some examples include a functional training gym and yoga studio, a beauty business and a local restaurant, or a chiropractor and a Pilates studio.
Code 5 Fitness chose to also look at cross-industry partnerships. "Our members never had access to a meditation or yoga class in the past," co-owner Connor Pettersson said. "It's important that we try new things—and do them together."
Shine Pole and Aerial Fitness in Hurst, Texas, launched a partnership with a nearby yoga studio to complement what the studio offered to its members. "I wanted to work with other small boutique fitness studios like me," owner Kristen Rodriguez said. "But it was also important to me that it was woman-owned. I have a good friend who owns a yoga studio that needed some help offering more classes to her clientele—and it fit perfectly."
Now members at Shine can access the yoga studio's classes to continue to work on flexibility and strength at Shine and work on mindfulness and breathing through yoga, all with one membership.
A revenue partnership is just like it sounds: businesses share revenue earned in exchange for promotion or other beneficial behaviors. It may seem out-of-reach for your business, but there's a good chance you already have one set up. If you or your business are an affiliate or ambassador of any brands where you earn a percentage of the sale, that's a revenue partnership.
You can get creative with this type of partnership, as depending on the brand, it doesn't have to be a formal relationship. For example, Fox & Jane Salon in New York, New York, launched a store on Threadless to help raise funds for its stylists while the business was closed. "We know we don't have to touch a product, but they ship it out for us," CEO and co-founder Lorean Cairns said. "They print per order and sell it; we get a little bit of a kickback."