A Partnership Case Study, Healthy Juice And Fitness Part 1

Basic Training Juice Shop Class Partnership

Partnerships + Your Brand–A Recipe For Success

One of my favorite brands is Basic Training–it’s personal training as well as group outdoor fitness classes here in San Francisco. I love them, I love going to the classes, and they do a fabulous job at online marketing. One of the ways they get traction, loyalty, and referrals online is through their partnerships.

Reaching More People Through Partnerships

One of the key factors in any overall marketing plan is to find ways to reach more people in the real world and online through one single effort.

Creating partnerships with brands or companies similar to yours–but not direct competitors of yours–is a smart way to attract new clients, and build loyalty among your current clients with one marketing effort. Since I like to give examples to explain things, let’s examine a case study of one of the best partnerships I’ve seen.

Partnership Case Study

Nice Overall Branding

Basic Training + Juice Shop = Healthy, Happy Clients

Jennifer Pattee, the founder of Basic Training, had a brilliant and tasty idea. Her brand is already strong, and one of their key differentiators is their “happy hour” philosophy. Working out for an hour with a group of social people (and pairing people together in teams), plus social time afterwards is a brand differentiator–this is Basic Training’s Special Sauce.

Jennifer Pattee’s idea for a partnership was to work with an organic, natural juice company in San Francisco–Juice Shop–and promote free classes, where clients would:

  • 1. Use a code on Basic Training’s Website, JUICY, to get a free class
  • 2. Meet at the new mobile juice truck for the classes
  • 3. Work out for an hour, and then get some juices back at the juice truck.

This is a brilliant idea all around. I’m going to tell you why.

Giving Your Clients More Of What They Like

The first thing that was brilliant about this partnership was the natural partnering between working out and healthy juices. Who wouldn’t want some healthy juice before and after a tough workout? Most, if not all, of Basic Training’s clients live healthy lifestyles, and that includes the outdoor fitness classes, as well as healthy food and nutrition. The likelihood that her clients would absolutely love Juice Shop was high.

Building Loyalty Among Your Current Clients

This was another brilliant move, and one that sadly, many small businesses forget.

Pay attention, and give some love, to your current clients. That means the occasional deal, special event, or something. I’ve already blogged about how frustrating it can be for current clients to see a business give discounts and deals to new clients only. It’s not really that fair, and it certainly is not a way to build loyalty.

Giving a free class to Basic Training current clients was a way to build loyalty amongst them. When clients are loyal to your business, they are more likely to talk positively about the business, and that includes sharing information about your events, classes, and deals. When people feel rewarded for their loyalty to you, they are also more likely to come back to you more often. All of this strengthens your business, because a truly loyal client is one you can count on. Most small businesses rely on repeat customers who come to you often. Anything you can do to increase the number of people who are loyal will ultimately lead to more revenue.

A Win-Win For Awareness

I already knew about Juice Shop–there is a location in my neighborhood, and I’m there a few times a week. But many of Basic Training’s clients did not know about the company. By:

  • Meeting at the Juice Shop location for a class
  • Using the code JUICY
  • Promoting the free classes online and tagging Juice Shop

Basic Training built brand awareness for Juice Shop. I guarantee Juice Shop will get more customers as a result of this partnership.  And what’s in it for Basic Training? Well, the same thing–they will get more clients as a result of the promotion. This is a win-win for both companies.

What Happened on Social Media

Sharing and Likes--Basic Training I always like to look at metrics for any campaign and partnership, and one of the ways to track success is to look at how much buzz the partnership generated. We want to look at what happens on social media–even if you don’t have a full-blown social media strategy, you should always use social media to post about any partnership, and any deal or special offer you have.

In the case of the Basic Training _ Juice Shop partnership, Basic Training was very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The posts were liked and shared by several people, and sharing is one of the most important things a customer can do for you online.

When we talk about metrics, and whether or not something was successful, we always want to look at the following:

  1. How many people shared what you did or talked about?
  2. How many people liked it, or “engaged with it” (comments, posting)
  3. How many people actually purchase something, or attend/go


Most of the post about the partnership were very popular. Customers liked, commented on, and shared the post. Any time a customer shares your content on their timeline it helps build awareness and buzz. Each person who shares something on their Facebook timeline, for example, has now exposed your brand to several hundred new people.

The photos on Facebook (and Instagram) showed people what to expect for the free classes–where they were, the environment, and the general vibe of the area. We would be working out at Hayes and Octavia, in a new space allocated to a coffee truck, the Juice Shop truck, and outdoor activity. An urban workout–and photos of the graffiti and the surrounding space helped give people an idea of what to expect.


Twitter AttentionBasic Training promoted the space where the mobile juice truck will be–it’s part of an effort in San Francisco by ProxySF. They used @ replies to the company, and by doing this, got retweeted by THAT company, which resulted in dozens of conversations within Twitter about the partnership.

Basic Training also actively wrote back to people interested in the class–and included the @ reply to people, again, increasing overall attention and awareness. And finally, in a brilliant Twitter move, they reached out to people they thought might be interested in the class, and promoted the partnerships and the get-togethers.

Basic Training was active about the partnership for about a week prior to the first class–giving people enough time to clear their schedules and attend, and also enough time to gain some momentum on social media. The few days before the first class, they tweeted and posted more, including pictures and links back to their Website for registration. In my Branding tutorial for B2, we go into more details about how exactly a brand can master their image, awareness, and conversations online–and Basic Training is one of my examples. They truly are stellar at engaging people online.


Screen shot 2013-08-09 at 4.23.27 PM

Successful Twitter Photos–Partnerships

Do you see how many likes on this one photo? That would be 183 likes. 183 likes! That is a popular picture, and all those likes equate to more people being aware of your brand, because when they like something, it shows up in their friends feeds.

This is absolutely a best practice, and Basic Training has a fabulous Instagram channel overall. Most fitness professionals who use Instagram will find a lot of success through pictures–of the classes, your customers, of the places you work out in–because what you do is so visual. Seeing people do the actual workouts, and looking happy while doing it, is the best promotion your business can get. Plus, it gives people an idea of who else might attend the classes.

The Bottom Line–Results And Attendees

The first free class was held on a Friday night at 6pm. I attended the class and was curious to see how many people would actually show up.

Ten clients took the class, which is a good, solid number considering it was a cold and windy (typical August) Friday night. Out of the ten, 1 person was brand new, and attended after seeing all the buzz about the partnership.

What was more important, however, was the attention the class received from the neighborhood. People came up to us, and the class instructors to inquire about the class. People wanted to know what the business was, when the other classes were, and whether this was a regular class.

iPhones came out and people were actually videotaping us. Now, to be fair, seeing 10 people doing burpees and lunges in a parking lot is always going to gather some attention. And Basic Training hired a videographer to tape the class as well, and when one person is videotaping, other people will follow.

The Basic Training instructors were wearing shirts that had “Basic Training” written on them, which was another great way to build awareness for the business.

Overall, the partnership gathered attention, awareness, and attendees.

Summary–What Makes a Partnership A Good Partnership

The Basic Training + Juice Shop partnership was by all accounts, a success. The true success of any partnership needs to be measured over some time. Basic Training and Juice Shop will both see positive results from their partnership over the next few weeks, and months.

A good partnership is one that:

  1. Gives your clients some loveScreen shot 2013-08-09 at 4.23.37 PM
  2. Is a win-win for both companies, or all companies involved
  3. Gets attention and awareness on social media
  4. Gets the end results–people signing up, attending a class, buying something–anything that you’ve determined is your end goal

Consider a partnership as a way to grow your business, build loyalty among current clients, and offer something unique that helps truly differentiate your business.

Part 2

I spoke with Jennifer Pattee of Basic Training to get the behind-the-scenes details and statistics on the partnership–and it turns out it was quite a success.

Click here to view Part 2.


Has your business established successful partnerships? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Develop your own voice instead of parroting what others say.

Small Business Wins: Having Your Own Voice

Develop your own voice instead of parroting what others say.

Develop your own voice instead of parroting what others say.

Having Your Own Voice

(Or, Why Not To Parrot Others)

Do you use social media, your blog, or  your email marketing to re-post things others have written? One of the things I wrote about in my Ebook is the importance of having your own voice. With small businesses, particularly local small businesses, it is one of the key things to differentiate you from your competition, to attract new customers, and to build loyalty with current customers.

Small businesses often will leverage someone who is a “guru” in their field, and post an article or quote from that person, on their own small business social media channels or Website, or blog. I call this “parroting” because you are essentially just saying what someone else has already said. When small businesses use social media to simply parrot what others say, or, simply post an article they like–it isn’t building your own brand. Having your own voice is critical, and it helps establish YOU as the guru, rather than someone else.

In this short blog, I will give you three quick ideas for how to have your own voice.

1. Write About What You Love:

Seriously, this is a simple one, but it is missed by so many small businesses. In fact, many small business owners try to avoid talking about the things they are passionate about because they want to appear more professional, or as if they are a larger business. Even with large businesses, having a personality and sounding “human” online is important. One of the ways you develop a relationship with your customers online, AND make writing anything online fun is to write about the things you love. That could be playing soccer, or painting, or traveling. Your customers are your customers because they like YOU as well as your services, so talk about the things that make you, you. When you write and talk about things you are passionate about, your voice–the thing that makes you unique–becomes clear.

2. Write How You Speak:

This might be the only thing I found useful when getting my masters degree in Journalism. Some people disagree with this strategy on writing; I’m a huge fan. One of the reasons small business owners post what other people write, is because they are intimated by writing, or they think they are bad writers. I guarantee you are not a bad writer. Simply write down the things you would say in a session with a client. When you have a session with a client, I’m sure you say brilliant things about what you do–whether it is skincare advice, nutrition advice, stress-reduction tips. You can use a dictation machine, so exactly what you say can be used as a blog post, or you can try video posts as a way to simply speak what you know. If you are writing, read the content allowed when you are finished–does it “sound” like you? Rewrite it until it sounds natural–as if it really is something you would just say.

3. Write What You Know:

Everyone has topics they consider themselves experts on. For me, it is online marketing and strategy, ecommerce, social media, etc. When I speak or write about those topics, it’s clear I know them well, and as a result, anything I say or write comes across clearly. It is the same for all small business owners–there are things you are simply an expert at. It could be A.R.T. if you are a pilates instructor, or it could be taking care of split ends if you run a salon. Whatever the thing, or things, that you consider yourself an expert on, are the very things you should write and speak about, online and offline. Your voice will be loud and clear because of your expertise. When we are experts in something, we don’t falter when we speak–we simply state things as facts, and that comes across as a solid and strong “voice” online.

4. Bonus Tip–If You Do Post Other People’s Writings/Articles, Tell People Why You Like It:

Curating content (which is another way of saying, posting other people’s articles on your social media channels or Website), can be a way to grow your brand, if you do it correctly. I go into much more detail about this in my Ebook, but if you do post something someone else wrote, at least tell your customers and fans why you like it, what you think about the article/blog, and what you might not like about it. In this way, you are establishing that you have an opinion about something, and you are also showing that you have your own voice.

These four things will help you develop your own voice online, and will help build your small business as a unique and special place.






Avoid the danger zone: 5 online don'ts for small businesses

5 Online Don’ts For Small Businesses

Cliff Danger--5 online don'ts for small businessesOnline Don’ts–The 5 Biggest Mistakes Small Businesses Make Online

What are the biggest online don’ts? One of the biggest mistakes I see with small businesses and their online marketing is putting the cart before the horse–that is, doing things that simply should not be done without a solid foundation. There are five online don’ts I see time and time again, and they are simple mistakes to make. In fact, many small businesses think these five things are the solution to getting new clients, and building their business. Not so at all. These five online don’ts can seriously hurt your long-term plan and make current customers angry.

I know, it’s exciting to launch a business and you immediately want to get the word out and drive new clients as fast as possible. But taking a step back and truly looking at what you hope to achieve online, and creating a solid strategy is going to save you time and money–and it will surely bring better results. Most small business owners would agree that growing their business and getting more revenue is a good goal. Yet, all of us make mistakes that are sometimes a result of over-excitement (just opened and want the world to know!), cash-flow problems (needing revenue right now, and forgetting the big picture), or the most common, is simply not knowing what truly works for online marketing.

If you absolutely know that:

  • 5% of your website visitors buy something or book an appointment
  • 10-25% of your social media followers refer you, share your posts, or participate in conversations with you
  • 5% of your ads actually lead to an end goal
  • 50% of your customers are repeat customers

Great! You can optimize what you are doing, and continue to get the end results you are striving for.

Did you answer “no” to any of the above?

Stop what you are doing right now and read the rest of this blog.

The 5 Biggest Don’ts (if you don’t have all of the above statistics)

  • Paying for ads on Facebook or Google Adwords
  • Paying for an SEO consultant
  • Diving right into social media
  • Using “deal” sites to drive many customers into your business
  • Spending more time on getting new customers, instead of paying attention to current customers

Online Don’ts–Why?

1. Paying for ads

This is an online don’t until you have those key metrics I mentioned above. Why? Because unless you are running A/B tests and optimizing your ads and continuously modifying them to ensure the most targeted results…you are wasting money. And unless you are spending $5k instead of $500, you are most likely not able to actually even get the numbers you need to really make a difference. The way ads work is you need to test dozens of versions of your ads–the copy, the design, where you are linking to–and that typically means a fairly big budget for the first 4-8 weeks. I do not recommend doing this until you are getting results from other sources of online marketing first.

And as a note for ads, be careful when doing ads to understand what kinds of ads do you more harm than good. A latest trend right now is “sponsored posts” on Facebook. I’m going to write a blog about this specific thing next week, but in my experience with running social media for many companies, sponsored ads do not have what is known as a good conversion rate (meaning not many new people like your brand as a result, or buy/do something positive as a result of seeing the sponsored post), AND, they tend to (to be frank), piss people off. Ads can do more harm than good, so just like anything online, you want to think through your end goals, your strategy, and be sure you are doing it correctly. Otherwise you are better off NOT paying for ads.

2. Paying for an SEO consultant

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is a big thing for small businesses, since we often rely on search engines such as Google to drive free traffic. But using an SEO consultant is a big online don’t, in my opinion, for most small businesses. I’m building out a training module that will show you how to do better SEO than most consultants, but until I create that, I will give you a few tips right now. The reality is that consultants don’t understand your brand, and they have to spend time getting up to speed. A good consultant needs a lot of time to understand your brand and get up to speed with your business–and that’s a lot of hours at a high consulting rate.  You actually know your own keywords better than they do because you know your top services, your clients, and why what you offer is unique.

Here are some quick tips for getting together ideas for keywords for your business: 1) Your special sauce–the thing you do that is unique or different, such as pilates + nutrition, are the best keywords you can use. 2) localization–be sure to include where your business is, including the neighborhood. You want to be as specific as possible. 3) Your top services right now, these are things your current clients like, and there is a high chance future clients will like them too. Using words around those three things in your blog, Website, social media, etc., is going to get you the right kind of traffic. SEO seems more complicated than it is, but the tips I just gave you will get you some results, and if you sign up for my mailing list I’ll let you know when my training module for this is live. You really can do this yourself.

3. Diving right into social media

Another top online don’t! Unless you have a plan. Social media is a classic “cart before the horse” since it seems simple to do, right? Everyone wants to dive right into social, but like I described in my blog post two weeks ago, social media without a solid foundation is just a lot of talk that won’t drive business. I consistently see small business owners spending a lot of time on social media, but none of their efforts point to the bottom line–did a customer book an appointment or buy something as a direct result of your social media? Social media can drive awareness of course, and it helps with your SEO and driving traffic. It’s also a great place to have conversations with current clients. But if you don’t have that solid foundation to truly understand what your goals are, the content strategy (what you will write about, why you are writing it, and when you will write it), AND a solid social media strategy; I guarantee you are better off focusing your efforts on other things, such as your Website, or building an email mailing list.

4. Using Deal Sites

Deal sites is a big online don’t and a personal pet peeve of mine. I see a lot of small businesses doing deals on Gilt City or Living Social or Groupon. In my experience with small businesses that rely on customer loyalty, these deal sites can be dangerous on two main accounts 1) trapping you into a less-money-per-client situation, which in the long run is going to hurt the business and 2) making current customers angry, since they pay full price despite being loyal. The reality is, most of these customers who come to you on a deal are not going to become long-term clients (the highest ratio I have seen is about 30%, meaning for every 100 people who buy a deal, 30 come back to you when the deal is over). That’s a really low customer return rate.

The other problem I see with this, is that when you put together your business plan, you thought about the true cost of a service or a product, and you (I hope) ensured a good profit for yourself. If you run a deal, the problem is you’ve now set an expectation for all clients to only pay that much–and I’ve seen a lot of businesses fail because they simply aren’t making enough money. There is a huge difference between running specials, or promotions that apply to new and current customers, or running a referral program where if a client refers a few people they get a big discount, and these deal sites. I KNOW that if you are starting a business, and you are concerned about getting new clients, or paying the rent on your space, these deal sites can be tempting.

You are much better off looking at partnerships or referral plans. Don’t worry–I’m going to create a training module that addresses getting new clients in quickly, and getting cash-flow, but my recommendation is to do everything with the long-term goal in mind, and that is a loyal customer rather than someone looking for a deal. But for now just remember the big picture. What kind of customer do you want? Do you want someone who only thinks your business is worth 1/2 off? Or do you want a loyal customer?

5. Spending more time on new customers instead of current customers

This don’t is related to the previous four, because most of the time, small businesses are using deal sites, using SEO, paying for ads and using social media in an effort to get new customers. Your current customer base is the #1 most important thing you should focus on with anything online. Your current customers already love you, so sending them love is the right thing to do. 🙂 One of the most important things you can do right now is establish a loyalty program–and this doesn’t need to be complicated at first. Simply tell your current customers that when they refer their friends and family to you, they get a discount.

An example of this is at my hair salon. For every three new paying customers I refer, I get a free haircut. Awesome.  This is a huge incentive to me to let people know about my hair salon, and, it’s a great way to keep me excited as a client. Friends who are referred to businesses tend to be loyal clients as well. It’s a win-win for everyone. My hair salon doesn’t do this online (yet), but they send email newsletters to their current customers and track it all manually in their database  (if you are dealing with thousands of referrals, you’ll want to set up a system for this, which I will build a training module for in the next few months). This is just one example of sharing the love with a current customer base, and it is easy to do.

VERY few businesses do this, and it always surprises me. The reality is, the more attention to give to a current client, the more they are likely to book an appointment with you or purchase something with you as well. The more you give, the more you get. There’s also a flipside to giving incentives to new customers only–it tends to make current customers unhappy, just like with the deal sites. I just saw a Facebook deal the other day for a business I’ve been a client of for five years. The deal was 50% off a service for new clients. No deal for current clients. Why not? I looked at the post and saw a lot of angry comments from current customers (all these comments were ignored by the business, another “no”), and some of the current customers went so far as to say they would reconsider giving business to the company. To state the obvious: this is not a good thing. Give the love to your current customers first, and give them incentives to bring in new business for you. That’s the better way to build your business.

I hope these five don’ts were helpful for you. Have you done anything with your business that you wish you hadn’t in hindsight? What do you do with your business that has really worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

Path to success--5 simple steps to social media

Social Media And Small Businesses: 5 Simple Steps For Success

5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Social Media

Social Media Success in 5 Simple Steps

1. Have a Clear Goal (or Goals)

Before we judge “success” or ability to perform well with social media, we need to have clear goals aligned to the work. Many times I am contacted by small and large businesses alike to “fix” a flawed social media campaign, and if I had a dollar for every time I’m asked something like this; “I’ve been posting on Facebook every day for a year, but we have no new fans and nobody does anything. What’s wrong?” I’d have multiple homes in some choice places. 😉 When I ask, “What is your goal?” the businesses often don’t know…and that my friends, is the #1 problem. What exactly do you hope to achieve with your social media? Is it to drive new business? It is to sell more product? Or is to help people be healthy? You have to know what the goal, or goals are, before you even write a single post. And when you write, the most important things are…

2. Have a Purpose With Your Posts

What is wrong, in 99% of the channels I have seen, is a lack of purpose with the post–even if it has an overall goal aligned to your business, the post just doesn’t have a point. Do you want people to share something with you, such as a story, or a photo, or a comment? Would you like them to use a code and buy something? Do you want them to share the post? Each post, each tweet, each Instagram picture needs to have a point to it.

3. Stay on Brand

Understanding your brand, and knowing how to stay “on brand” is really difficult to do when your brand has an identity crisis. It’s the reason I generally won’t work with clients unless they have a solid understanding of their business brand. A client of mine who runs a successful skincare business is an example of a strong brand–she knows what differentiates her not simply in terms of services or products, but her overall mission of the blend of high-tech and organic. Plus, she believes in nutrition, fitness, and general appreciation of the arts as keys to looking and feeling good. That’s a brand, and any time she does anything, whether it is sending an email or posting on Facebook, she embraces the mission statement of her brand.

4. Be Consistent

Next up would be lack of consistency–when the channel posts are all over the place not only in terms of what they say/content, but the timing. For example, posting at 9am one day, but 11pm the next…going for weeks without posting…and then two weeks straight of daily posts. Oh, no! It is inconsistent. Be careful to not only stay on brand, and be consistent with your topic types (you can have multiple types of “themes” that you post, but stay aligned with your brand), but also with your frequency and schedule of posting.

5. Build a Relationship

Broadcast posting is common–almost as if you are a newspaper and just talking, without engaging your fans in a conversation. The whole beauty of social media is that it is instantaneously interactive! I’m assuming you actually do want to know what your fans think and want…so be sure to include them in your posts. Have a conversation with them, and write back to them if they comment on a post, or start a post. It is a two-way street online.

Real-World Example of Dos and Don’ts

I’m going to give you an example of a health company (company name withheld) with some issues with their Facebook channel that I was asked to assess, because I find that examples can help showcase principles in action. After just three days I was able to identify 99% of the problem, and, they came down to three of the 5 things listed above.

  • No Relationship Building: On Monday, the business posted about healthy recipes with a link to an article on a major newspaper. Good content, but there wasn’t any opinion about why they liked the article, or were posting it in general. And there was no call to action, or relationship building. An example call to action could be “What are your healthiest recipes?” or “What foods do you love that keep you healthy.” Or even, “What do you think?” You want to ask something of your fans, and it really can be as simple as asking their opinion. You want to engage your fans, rather than simply telling them something.
  • Inconsistent Frequency: The next day, no post at all. No worries in general–every day posting isn’t needed. The problem I had with this (because I had a problem with it), is that for the prior three weeks, they posted daily Monday-Friday. So skipping a day when a post would normally appear is inconsistent. In general, your fans rely on consistency from you. I’ve often equated this to a relationship or a friendship. It’s fine if you know to expect you’ll hear from someone a few days a week–but when you hear from someone daily….and then you don’t…it can be jarring. You are building a relationship on your social media.
  • Brand Identity Issues: The following day, a post about technology–which had no alignment with the company brand, goals, or purpose. It felt like a random post, and it was. When I asked the business owner why that was posted, they said most of their audience works in technology. That’s great, knowing your audience is important. But an article on say, why working on your computer 10+ hours a day can be detrimental to your health would be more aligned with the company brand and mission…a random post is just a random post. Your fans are smarter than that and they can sense when you are posting random articles in an attempt to appease them. It feels almost manipulative, and manipulation never works in relationships.

Three days, three issues around things that are relatively easy to fix. Instead of hiring me or another expensive consultant to help you see immediate results in your social media, try these 5 things first, and let me know what happens. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these 5 things will give you results, and meet those goals that you’ve now established.