A host beneficiary is one of the most powerful and cost-effective marketing strategies available to small and medium sized businesses. If you’re not doing host beneficiaries then you are probably spending too much on marketing and not getting the return on your marketing spend that you could.
A host beneficiary is where you market to another businesses’ clients and prospects in such a way that creates a win:win:win scenario. Their customers win because they get great additional value. The host business wins because their clients buy more services from them and you win because you market and sell your services to their clients.
This may become clearer with a couple of examples. My coaching business, for example, has the same target market as say accountants, solicitors, web-designers, marketing consultants, etc. We don’t compete with any of these directly – we offer different and complementary services. So if we can help their clients to become more profitable then that can have a direct knock on effect for their business. For example, if we work with the client of an accountant and they end up growing and taking on more staff then they may need to add payroll services and monthly management accounts to their basic VAT and annual reporting.
Another example might be a carpet cleaning company who sets up a host beneficiary with an estate agent. The cleaning company offers a free carpet clean to the estate agents clients (either before or after a move) for the opportunity to quote to clean the whole house. In return, the estate agent receives a 20% incentive payment for any clients who buy the whole house carpet clean.
There are many ways this can work – it’s limited only by your imagination.
So how do you go about setting up a host beneficiary?
As with any marketing, start by being clear on your target market as this will dictate who your ideal host businesses will be, what offer you will make to the host and to their clients and how you will approach them.
By far the easiest approach is if you already know someone in your network that has a complementary business with the right target market. It’s an easy step just to discuss possibilities and come up with the most advantageous plan all round. Ask around in your network as well.
If you don’t already know someone in your network in an appropriate business, then you will need to find a way to approach them.
You could call them directly, but sometimes a letter or email can be a better first contact to introduce the idea before calling.
If you choose to write a letter, what should go into it? A typical host beneficiary letter might go along the lines of:
- Attention grabbing headline or insert
- Sub-headline explaining the headline or insert
- Introduce yourself and service benefits
- Raise a common complaint their clients will have that they can’t deal with directly but that you can or a common cause for concern in your industry that their clients will have come up against… e.g. sub-standard competition
- Ask for their help in overcoming this
- Offer them an incentive (e.g. 10% commission on sales)
- More about you and your business – what makes you different, better than the rest, proof, testimonials, case studies.
- Offer them a test.
- If they like it they can…
- Offer the same test to their clients
- Explain that only if their clients like the test will they be offered the chance to take up the product/service – no hard sell…
- Explain your guarantees
- Provide proof that the guarantee is valid and valuable
- Finish with a call to action…
This can become a long letter and if you don’t feel it is appropriate you could try the shorter, simpler, lower key approach such as:
I noticed that you currently offer <services> to <target market>. We are a business that works with a similar customer base helping them <benefits of your service>. As we are not in direct competition with each other, but offer services that potentially complement and support each other, I wondered if you might be interested in discussing a way in which we could recommend each other’s services to our mutual advantage.
Please drop me an email to let me know whether this suggestion is something you would consider worth exploring further.
I will give you a call during the following week to arrange to have a conversation at your convenience.
As with all marketing, you will only know what works for you by testing and measuring the responses you get. If you send letters like this by email, you will want to measure open rates, click throughs to your website, etc. By letter or email, you will want to measure the response rate in terms of inbound calls or meetings booked from a follow up call.
Similarly, as with any marketing, consistency is important. If you’re going to do this you need to do it regularly. Over time your averages will tell you which approach works and is cost-effective. Then you can tweak offers, headlines and wording as appropriate.