This week's guest post comes from long-time contributor Emily Hines, of Emily Hines Consulting.
A few weeks ago we shared a blog encouraging brands to find partners based on shared values between your company and potential partners. This week we want to take a look at partnering with brands based on your customers’ values. It sounds like it is the same, but there is a small mindset shift here that requires putting yourself in your customers shoes.
The main thing to keep in mind in this exercise is that you and your customers have a lot of shared values. And, just because some of those values are not ones that you have intentionally listed in your own brand’s strategy, does not mean they do not have the potential to spark a partnership so long as they still align with your brands overall promise, messaging, etc. So read on to find your next partner with this creative exercise about your customers' values.
Step 1: Make a Customer Profile
If you have not already done so, this is a good time to really think about and take a look at your customer avatar. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are they at surface level? age, income, education, location, etc.
- What are their deeper feelings and emotions? fears, needs, hopes, dreams, desires, struggles, pains, etc. What keeps them up at night? What sparks them joy?
- What are their interests, where do they go when they are not engaging with your brand: how do they workout, what are they likely to eat, what media do they consume, what do they find funny, who do they look up to, etc.
Go deep and embrace your inner culture nerd and psychologist. That’s the fun of marketing! In fact, a recent Marketing Week survey found that behavior is the most commonly used customer segmentation tool.
Now look at all of this holistically and answer the big question here: what do my customers value? And don’t think of values as just the usual ethical ones: honesty, integrity, etc. (although those are important); think about what they find valuable in their life and what traits they value in themselves.
Side note: This exercise is a great one to do because it affects a lot of decisions you will make in your marketing, product, and business development. It is something that you could spend a large amount of time really diving into with customer surveys, but for time and budget sake you can also do a quick jot down to the questions above as a great first step.
Step 2: Make Lists (And A Totally Made Up Case Study)
Here’s an example to show you the real possibility to opening up your world of partnership potential by doing this exercise.
Company*: A monthly pillow subscription company. (Because nobody has the time or money to find the perfect pillow, until it shows up at your front door one month.)
*This is totally made up, but I think I am onto something here.
Demographic: Females, Age 25-45, Expendable Income, Live in Cities, College Education, Work Full Time or are Self Employed
Psychographic: Career focused, little time between work, home, activities, friends and dating, health conscious and know the value of a good night's rest, overworked, tired, want to be successful, want to have it all, willing to pay for convenience, familiar with technology and subscription models, their home is their haven, have a side hustle
Interests: networking, cooking at home, giving back, trends, health food, minimalism, capsule wardrobes, yoga, pilates, spin class, online publications & blogs, technology, interior decorating, coffee shops
Values: convenience, individualized service, health, hustling, sustainability, mindful spending, community, connection, comfort, decluttered life
(If a worksheet would help you in this process, I have one you can download on my site.)
Step 3: Cross Reference With Brands
Now that you have your customer profile, start to cross-reference the list of values and psychographic qualities with the list of interests to find the perfect potential brands to work with.
For example, the values of ‘health’ and ‘convenience’ combined with the interest of ‘cooking at home’ gets you to Nomiku, a company that has combined their sous vide immersion cooker technology with meal delivery convenience for quick healthy meals
Potential Brands to Partner With:
- Meal Delivery Companies (have you checked out Parsnip brands: Territory Foods or Imperfect Produce?)
- Plant Delivery Companies (again, we have some on Parsnip!: Seattle Seed Company or Gardenio)
- Rothy’s: Sustainable, Minimalist, Quality Shoes
- Networking Events (hey, Six Degrees Society)
- Personal Chef Services
- Interior Decorating Service
- Fitness Companies (Parsnip brands: Equinox, Yoga Tree, Mind Body Love)
Note: If you have more than one demographic set (my pillow company would be great for parents of small children too!) do this exercise for all of them.
These are just a few that I have brainstormed and that are not surface level or obvious (pajama companies, essential oils for bedtime, bathroom products, sheet companies, etc are all low hanging fruit here!).
You can start to see here that it opens the floor to things that are well within your customers values and interests, and bring some creativity to the partnership. Choose partnerships that also are in line with your brand, and reflect back on who you are and your culture. (If my pillow company were against promoting the culture of “hustling” to the point of burnout, I likely would not partner with companies that promote that.)
So, next time you think you have exhausted your creativity on coming up with new potential partners for blog posts, giveaways, product development, etc, give this customer values exercise a try.
And be on the lookout for the booming pillow subscription company to come.