3 Photography Co-Marketing Partnerships Mistakes to Avoid


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute


Developing photography co-marketing partnerships with other small business is one of the fastest ways to grow your photography business. At Sarah Petty Photography, I’ve built partnerships with local business that have flourished for 15 years. But it wasn’t because of luck or who I knew. Avoid these 3 mistakes on your way to building long-term photography co-marketing partnerships and you’ll see your client list grow each year.

Here are the top 3 mistakes to avoid when developing photography co-marketing partnerships:

1) Lack of trust – It’s not enough to walk into another local small business and say ‘Hey…I like what you do. I’m a small business owner, too. Let’s do something together!’ Unless you have established a relationship with the owner of the business, you have not built the trust necessary to earn the privilege of co-marketing with that business. Remember, they have spent a lot of time growing a brand and building a reputation for their business. They don’t want to put that in danger (just like you wouldn’t in your own business) by partnering with the wrong business.

So how do you build trust? Over time. It’s not going to happen over night. Start by doing business with the potential partner. Whether it by referring your clients to that business or stopping by yourself. If you think they are a good enough business to partner with then it shouldn’t be a stretch to refer them to your clients or reward them by using their products and services yourself. Ask them to lunch.

2) What’s in it for me? – While the long term goal of working with another business is of course to grow your own, when you approach a potential partner with the pretense of what’s in it for me, you’ll turn them off. Nobody likes to be taken advantage of. As small business owners we are approached by many people each day –  advertising reps wanting us to spend our marketing dollars with them, charities wanting us to donate, schools wanting us to sponsor teams and events, telemarketers wanting us to shift our business from company a to company b. Our defenses naturally go up because it feels like someone always wants something from us. Try this instead  when working with a partner business. Listen to what their needs are as if you were a consultant. Take the fact that you own a business and that this project could help you, too, off the table. Make this project 100% about your partner. Trust grows more quickly when you truly have someone else’s best interests at heart. And once you’ve given without expectation for getting something in return, your co-marketing partner will be more open to helping you grow your business.

3) Expecting too much – As small business owners, we all have too much on our plates. In fact, your plate (and mine) is overflowing so much that things are falling off the sides of it! When you bring an opportunity to a small business owner, it needs to be good and it needs to require very little from them. Don’t say we should do something together and expect them to come up with a brilliant idea. Put yourself in their shoes. If the opportunity is going to add 50 more items to their to do list, the outcome is unproven and they don’t even know you very well, it’s easier to just say no. When you approach a partner with an idea, have a plan! And be prepared to do more than your fair share, especially on the first project. If you don’t have the time to make it a slam dunk, then don’t do it. Spend your time nurturing the relationship until you have time to make the co-marketing opportunity a huge success.

Here are a few tips for identifying potential co-marketing partners:

FIRST –  Each day for the next week, carry around a notebook.

SECOND – Keep track of every business that you call, stop by, and spend money with.

THIRD – At the end of the week, look at where you spend money (stock broker, banker, dentist, florist, new shoes for the kids, wedding gift, groceries, etc). How many of the businesses you spent time with were local? Is there a local business alternative where you could begin supporting another small business owner like yourself rather than a big box, chain store? Sure maybe it’s a little out of the way. But if they could be a good potential partner for your business, why not begin building and growing that relationship?

FOURTH – Once you’ve identified businesses you TRULY love and naturally support that are local, invite the business owner or manager to lunch or coffee so you can learn more about what their challenges are in business and how you could build a co-marketing partnership that will benefit BOTH businesses.

I talk in more detail about photography co-marketing partnerships in my New York Times Best-Selling book Worth Every Penny.

You can grab a copy for free here and I’ll mail you a hard cover copy of it. Just cover the shipping.

More photography co-marketing partnerships ideas are covered in this book

I’ll ship you a copy for free, while supplies last.


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