As we move forward this month piecing together your game plan for implementing strategic alliances into your marketing plan, one question you may have is, “How many strategic alliances do I actually need?” That’s a great question, and the answer may surprise you.
When I first began building alliances in my practice I remember asking myself the same question, thinking that at the rate I was getting (or not getting) referrals from CPAs I’d probably need 10 to 20 different alliances. My original plan was to surround myself with as many alliances as I could in hopes of generating enough activity that I could eventually walk away from my dependence on direct mail seminars.
As I ventured out and began interviewing potential alliances, I formed relationships with the first four I interviewed. With the approach and value proposition I developed in my practice, I was pleasantly surprised at the response I received. Within 45 days of beginning my search for an alliance I had two CPAs, an enrolled agent and an accountant on board. Like most entrepreneurs my attitude was “create as much opportunity as possible at first and then figure out how to handle the workload after the fact.” I was surprised how quickly I found myself overwhelmed trying to implement the marketing plan I created for four different strategic partners. While my initial thought had been that I would need to form dozens of alliances, I quickly learned that with the right marketing plan, it was more about the number of potential clients within an alliance’s practice than the number of actual alliances.
As an example, the first four relationships I formed had a combined client base of 1,800 clients over the age of 50. Why was this so overwhelming? Because the joint marketing plan I put in place (which we’ll discuss in detail in the coming weeks) flooded my marketing pipeline with warm prospects who already had a level of trust in me because their CPAs trusted me. All of a sudden I went from an empty calendar to sending 1,800 joint newsletters a month, hosting two CPA-sponsored events per month, building email campaigns for my new partners as well as running educational seminars for their clients. With response rates to these events averaging between 35 percent and 45 percent, I quickly reached a point where I had to pull back. I was having more people show up to events than I could effectively follow up with, which led me to restructure the number of events I promised to do each year for my new strategic partners. This also gave me the opportunity to learn the appropriate number of invitations to send to different types of events, ensuring I gave myself enough time to follow up with everyone so that no one fell through the cracks.
1,000 to 1,200 clients