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Pair up with other businesses and watch your sales soar.

How does a small company act like a big one? By building relationships withother businesses to increase sales for all. It's called partnering, and it'sthe most important success strategy in business today.

If you've recently received a marketing piece from a professional associationor an offer from a major credit card company, that's partnering in action. Theassociation or bank offers you a group of services delivered via a network ofpartners that provide everything from reduced rates on rental cars andlong-distance services to life insurance.

Partnership marketing is the new survival strategy for entrepreneurs, too. Withthe number of new businesses on the rise nationwide, there's increasingcompetition for market share in every sector. By wooing marketing partners thatsuccessfully sell products or services to your target customers, you can expandyour business and create a big-company image while sharing marketing tasks andexpenses. Beyond the cost savings, you'll also gain access to valuableresources, such as qualified prospect lists and the support of larger, moreexperienced marketing partners.

Here are four ways partnering strategies can help you build your new business.

1. Launch a new product or service. Say you've developed a new productor service and want to launch it nationally, but don't have millions of dollarsto do it on your own. Why not partner with a major association or corporationthat's already marketing to the same target audience?

Suppose you've created a revolutionary Web-design product for entrepreneursthat's simple and affordable. If you partner with a small-business association,a financial services company that targets small businesses nationally, or evenone of the top five long-distance carriers, both sides benefit. You assist themby adding value to the group of products and services they offer. Meanwhile,your product becomes part of their national marketing program, so you getaccess to a huge prospect base, wide exposure for your new product and expertmarketers to put the program together. (Not to mention, you save millions!)

2. Test a new market. The right marketing partners can help you test avariation of an existing product on an entirely new market or market segment.Say your company sells sports apparel for school teams and you decide totest-market bomber jackets with vintage sports-car emblems, targeted at adultsports-car enthusiasts. Rather than attack this new market on your own, youcould partner with associations or businesses that sell related products tosports-car drivers and test-market your bomber jackets to their customers at aspecial price. Your company would gain access to qualified prospects for thenew product, get quick feedback (whether good or bad) on the test-marketingeffort, and save a lot of money.

3. Widen your prospect base. One of the best ways for start-ups toexpand without adding overhead is to partner with companies or people offeringcomplementary services. You'll often see an advertising copywriter teaming withan art director to offer full-service advertising development. Together, theyhave access to a wider range of prospects and can bill for their work on aproject basis, rather than hourly, increasing their incomes. They can alsocombine their marketing efforts, reducing the amount of time each of them hasto spend individually marketing his or her services.

4. Expand your business geographically.What happens when amedical billing service in Los Angeles partners with similar businesses inDallas, Chicago and Boston? They establish relationships that allow them toshare resources and expertise. At the same time, they create a nationwidecompany image. With this type of partnering, each business can choose to keepits own corporate culture and client base, or the companies can blend into asingle, larger entity.

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