Joint ventures (JVs) are a great way to get started online if you don’t yet have any products of your own to sell. And then, when you get more established, they should play a major role in your overall marketing strategy and product launches. Because JVs will get your products in front of fresh eyes.

A joint venture is simply two or more people working together to achieve a common goal. In a nutshell: “You promote my stuff, and I’ll promote yours.” That could mean selling each others’ products or giving each other access to your e-mail subscribers or visitors to your high-traffic websites.

But the best part of JVs, said Chris Chickering during his presentation at Bootcamp, is the leverage — the chance to reap hug potential rewards for very little risk. (After all, the only thing you have to do to get a joint venture going is call or e-mail a potential partner. And how risky is that?)

Some other advantages of joint ventures:

  • Can be done with little to no expense. (You’re simply sending an e-mail to someone else’s subscriber list.)
  • Helps you establish credibility, fast. (If you get even one industry leader on board, you have a very good chance of attracting others in your niche to do business with you. And once you can document the amazing results you’ve had with one partner, you can use that to get other JV partners. It’s the domino effect. If, for example, you could get Cesar Millan to promote your dog-training program, how much pull would that give you with others in that niche?)
  • Enhances product and marketing development. (By sending out your product to your JV partner’s list, you get more feedback to help you improve it.)
  • Gives you an infinite return on your investment of time. (Once you’ve established a relationship — a profitable relationship — with a JV partner, you can go back to them again and again).

But you can’t just pick up the phone and try to badger people you’d like to work with to do a joint venture with you.

You have to prepare.

If you do your homework, you’ll be able to make a quick and powerful presentation. And that will change their thinking from “Who the heck are you?” to “Hey, how are you?”

Establishing that first deal can be hard work. But once you get the knack of it, it will became easy — even automatic.

Here are Chris’s four steps for getting ready to make your first JV deal:

Step 1. Establish yourself as having a quality product or service AND quality marketing.

If you want to succeed with joint ventures and have explosive results, you need a great product or service, yes. But your marketing has to be phenomenal, maybe even better than what you’re selling.

If you don’t have quality marketing, said Chris, it’s like having a Ferrari with no wheels. Don’t skimp on the amount of time, money, and effort you spend on perfecting your marketing, especially your sales copy. If you do, you won’t have success, you’ll have trouble getting more JVs, and, most important, you won’t make any money.

Step 2. Get your operational stuff in order.

The first part of this is to have great customer service and support. You must provide your JV’s customers with your e-mail address and phone number. And follow up on every refund request and complaint. The whole point of a joint venture is to improve your partner’s relationship with their audience. You want their customers to have the best possible experience with you. If they don’t, that will be your last JV.

You not only have to make your partner’s customers happy — you need to make your partner happy, too. And that means having a reliable sales tracking system — one that your JV partners can access themselves. And when you send their commission checks, send a detailed report of their sales as well. They shouldn’t have to call you to get that kind of information.

Step 3. Develop the heart of your message.

What’s your mission? What’s your company’s reason for being? It should show in your marketing and with any contact you have with potential JVs.

Your potential partners won’t want to hear a long, dragged out explanation of who you are and what you’re all about. So before you start making phone calls or sending e-mails, boil it down to a 10- to 30-second “elevator pitch.” That same pitch can be used when meeting people at industry events.

It’s easy to blab on for 10 minutes, said Chris. But it’s tougher to make your message concise. Here’s an outline. Ask yourself:

  • Who am I/what is my company all about?
  • What do we do?
  • What makes us special?
  • Why am I calling?

That’s the basic structure. But you should be prepared with several different pitches, depending on who you’ll be talking to.

Step 4. Do your due diligence.

Before you contact a potential JV partner, make sure their product, message, and business mesh with yours. Do your homework. Know who they are and what they do. And be prepared to show them exactly how a joint venture with you will be worth their while.

Joint ventures are a key element of online marketing. And they can be the perfect way for a start-up business to get noticed in its niche.

But before you make your first phone call, you have to be prepared. You can’t wing a JV deal. Most people have only a short amount of time to pay attention to your “pitch,” said Chris. And if that initial contact doesn’t go well… you might not get a second chance.

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