A Guide for Startups: Building Relationships with Big Brands

A Guide for Startups: Building Relationships with Big Brands

Startups often create fresh and innovative ways to reach customers that big brands crave, while big brands have the financial resources and wide reach that small start-ups can only dream of. Although some startups shy away from working with larger organisations and revel in serving a community of their peers, they’re missing a great opportunity; the opportunity to work with larger organisations, establish a strong relationship with a big brand, and drive their own growth.

Here’s our advice for startups seeking a partnership with branded giants:

Be clear about what your offer 

Ultimately your product or service needs to either make or save money for a company. In order to grab their attention, your first job is to work out where you have the most impact and make this the focus of your pitch.

Connect with the right people

It is important to develop a relationship with the right people at the organisation you intend to work with, both in terms of their function and their position in the hierarchy. So do your homework before you approach them and pick the right person to target with your ideas.

Don’t under-price yourself

Just because you are small, that doesn’t mean you should be cheap. Work out what you can save or make for your target client, and price yourself accordingly.

Use your size in your favour

When it comes to dealing with big companies, there is a tendency for startups to want to change who they are and what they are about. But dealing with startups can be a breath of fresh air compared with dealing with more established businesses, especially if they deliver on time and on budget. Big companies know that small businesses often have big ideas.

Beware of decision makers

For larger companies, switching suppliers isn’t a decision that they will take lightly. The decision will go through numerous departments and people. Be ready to pitch your message again and again, on different scales – from a letter pitch to a full presentation – and focus on explaining how you can improve on the service they receive from their entrenched suppliers.

Find a good lawyer

If you don’t have experience in negotiating commercial contracts, it is easy to get pushed into a corner. If you have a lawyer you can trust, they will tell you when potential customers are trying to push their luck and when their expectations are reasonable. Always be clear about what you’re committing to, what you’re getting from the deal, and what the consequences and obligations are if either party defaults or decides to back out.

Seek out recommendations

If you have been well received by a client, encourage them to refer you to their equally large peers. While they are unlikely to refer you to a rival if you are providing them with a competitive advantage, in many cases clients are happy to produce general testimonial statements – essential contributions for winning future business!

Can brands work with startups? What has worked in your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Kara Copple
An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.