For all of you who have worked with me professionally, you know I’m a solid advocate of partnership marketing. Teaming up with businesses is an opportunity to extend your brand, enhance sales and, most importantly, offer a higher value of product or service to your customer than many of your competitors.
My latest project, The Richardson House, involves rehabilitating a historic home and converting this house from a neglected B&B to an impeccable private holiday rental. While a very tedious and labor-intensive process — from floor and paint to web design and marketing collateral — every step has involved our local community and an array of unique and creative partnerships.
Our philosophy is to create a sense of community around this prestigious home in the historic district of Truckee, California. She has maintained her glorious position sitting just above town since the 1880s and has gone unscathed through major fires and redevelopment. We knew before we purchased this incredible home that she would never be ours; she would always belongs to Truckee. Our role is nothing short of looking after her, for now, until another generation pulls her under its wing.
Our first decision was to hire a house manager. Given the current economy, we knew the pool of viable candidates would be vast. Little did our house manager know, we had already decided Chelsea was our gal before we wrote the job description. Chelsea Walterscheid is president of the Truckee-Donner Historical Society, a historian by trade and life long resident of Truckee. Who better to manage this historic home than a historian?
Due to Chelsea’s vast network within the community, she brings an incredible array of individuals to the home. Whether bidding on our next project or simply stopping by to say hello, her diverse relationships directly benefit our business. Contractors want to please Chelsea and share her interest in the home, each of them taking a little bit of ownership of The Richardson House with them after each project.
Much like Chelsea, we had our sights on our caretaker long before we’d closed escrow. Jim Katt is “the man” about town when it comes to landscaping. His thoughtful designs utilizing natural resources were something we’d already experienced at our own home. The yard at The Richardson House had been neglected for many years, and we knew we needed someone with patience and passion to turn this historic eyesore into the gorgeous garden the home — and neighbors — deserve.
As we approached Jim to not only take on the exterior project, we asked that he consider joining our team as caretaker, upon his acceptance we were surprised with his many hidden talents – including a keen eye for paint and design. Before long, the garden will be in full bloom, and I suspect not only Jim, but also the many friends and fellow landscapers he’s included in this project, will be swelling with pride.
Once we had the right people in place, it was time to dig into the marketing aspect of the business. Creating a new brand is an exciting process, although personally, very difficult for me upon the onset. Because I have the wonderful privilege of knowing so many incredible marketers and designers, choosing one agency or individual was tough. After a great deal of thought I knew the individual creating our brand would need to fit into our community partner philosophy. We needed someone who would visit the house, proudly point it out to friends and family, and ‘own’ the brands look and feel throughout the region. Cesar Lopez of New Leaders was our man.
Cesar spent countless hours at the house: attending marketing meetings, admiring her rehabilitation, directing photo shoots, and simply getting a feel for her presence and vibe. Over the past four months, Cesar has become yet another one of the homes’ tenders, in his own special way.
To reinforce our vision of sharing The Richardson House with the community, we’ve created another infrastructure to enhance partnerships. Local and regional not-for-profits have been invited to use her for board meetings and/or special planning sessions. She’s quickly grown into the hearts of Trails and Vistas, Custom Learning Academy, and the Truckee Donner Land Trust. The list continues to grow each and every week.
As private holiday home rental remains a key component of our marketing effort, we went to a few of our favorite local businesses and asked if they would become a business partner by enhancing the “Truckee” experience for our guests. After a resounding “Yes,” to those we asked, we were able to produce the Truckee Experience Card for all Richardson House guests. Guest benefits extend to specialty stores and restaurants all within walking vicinity and include:
– A complimentary dog cookie at Scraps Dog Bakery
– A free bath soap from Riverstone – Home, Gift and Garden
– A mimosa with breakfast – on the house – Squeeze In Truckee
– A “Relaxing” tea bag with any $10 purchase – Truckee Tea Company
– A vino and cheese sampler – Moody’s Bistro & Lounge
– ½ off your second burger – Burger Me
In addition, our guests will have the comfort of knowing that a portion of the proceeds from each stay will directly benefit the Truckee-Donner Historical Society and Truckee Donner Land Trust. The Richardson House is also a member of The BEAR League and the Sky Sponsor for Trails and Vistas 2010.
In five months, we’ve proudly partnered with at least two-dozen businesses and individuals in our community. This process can be time consuming as a business owner or manager and certainly requires diligence, as you only want to work with businesses and organizations that support your mission, enhance your brand, and will take excellent care of your customers and employees. In my opinion though, partnerships are worth the effort, and the benefits will long out-way a short campaign or half-hearted PR push. They grow out of mutual respect and can far exceed their immediate benefits if carefully nurtured and honestly represented.
I encourage you to look at the partnerships you already have and examine how they might be enhanced. From there, look outside of the box and see where you can creatively bring in additional partners to enhance your product or service for your customers. It’s certainly worth the effort.