Maximizing External Partnerships with a Density Strategy
Annette Maggi, MS, RD, LD, FADA
Executive Director, RDBA
External partnerships can extend the reach of the retail dietitian, build a retailer’s health and wellness brand in the community, increase customer loyalty, and gain new shoppers for the store. A density strategy can help you maximize these external relationships, making your message and brand go viral in a whole new way.
A density strategy involves identifying all the groups and entities within a geographic area to partner with and reach an intended audience with your retailer’s health and wellness brand and offerings. It’s an effective way for dietitians to reach more shoppers and potential shoppers in target markets, and leverage others to extend your reach. Steps in the process include:
- Research. Conduct research to understand your community - education level, income, age, percent of households with children, and other key demographic information. Gather this same data about your shoppers, partnering internally with the department that manages your loyalty card or customer insight data. If your community data differs from your store data, this creates an opportunity to draw in new customers with your health and wellness programs. Assessing this data helps you understand target audiences in your community.
- Target Audience. Out of this research, identify a key audience to target through partnerships. While it seems obvious to reach Baby Boomers or school-age children with health programming, Millenials might actually be the primary demographic in your market area.
- Go Where They Go. Based on this audience, consider where and how you might reach them with health messaging and programming. If, for example, citizens in your target group have a long commute to work, who are drive time media outlets you might pitch a partnership to? Or is there an extensive network of moms’ clubs through which you can reach women looking to lose weight? Where might these moms work out? First flesh out the categories of potential partners and then identify specific companies in each category. From a format standpoint, density strategies often include a four-quadrant grid, with each section covering a partnership category with a list of individual companies that fall within that category.
- Prioritize. Next, evaluate and prioritize the potential partners. Consider if their goals are consistent with yours, how credible they are, ease of partnership implementation, and whether the company has an established relationship with your retailer. It’s important to have multiple options as you don’t yet know whether a partnership with each will materialize.
- Pitch. When pitching a joint venture to any company, its essential to go in prepared, having a clear sense of your own health and wellness goals and what you think both parties can gain from working together, ensuring decision-makers are coming to the table, establishing potential roles and responsibilities, and clearly defining next steps.
Creating a density strategy identifies where you can have the most impact in driving your health and wellness agenda effectively as it positions you to leverage other organizations to expand your reach. Developing the strategy up front is worth the work, as you can then build partnerships as time allows and key initiatives make sense.