Expanding With a Business Alliance

Trading Spaces

The first 8minuteDating event was held in Boston in February 2001. The company has since expanded rapidly and will host more than 1,000 events in 40 cities by the end of 2003. While the 8minute formula has been successful, Jaffee struggled with the issue of reaching audiences in 40 different locations. At the same time, TPI's Segel was looking for a way to add more customer value to his product.

TPI made an offer. They would work with newspapers to advertise 8minuteDating events in the personal pages, and, in return, the newspapers would be co-sponsors of 8minute's events. "Speed-dating is the hot thing among singles, and we wanted our name associated with it," Segel says.

For Jaffee, who expects 8minuteDating to bring in more than $1 million in 2003, teaming up with TPI's personals sections seemed like the perfect way to reach his audience. "People who check out the personal pages are already taking action to meet people," Jaffee says. "We're just offering them an additional way to do it."

The cross-promotion worked like cross-pollination. At 8minuteDating events, free coupons and contests spurred the attendees to try the local newspaper's personal ads, and in the newspaper, advertisements for the 8minuteDating events drove attendance. Jaffee's 8minuteDating has grown tenfold in the past year. He hasn't measured exactly how much of the growth can be credited to TPI, but he thinks it's significant.

Jaffee believes the alliance has been a success because each company made it a priority. "We shared a goal that was critical to the success of both businesses, to reach more people in our target market," he says.

Now the two companies are going further, with TPI appearing on the 8minuteDating Web site. More joint activities are being planned. "A partnership in stages makes a lot of sense," explains Emer Dooley, a business professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. "Once the two organizations start working together, they can see how well they operate as a team, if their joint objectives are being met, etc. From there, they can add layers or activities to benefit both."

"The beauty of our alliance is that it can expand with 8minuteDating's growth," says Segel. "Every time they start events in a new city, TPI will already be there with our personal ads in the newspapers. Talk about a match made in heaven."

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This article was originally published in the March 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Gold Bond.

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