“Creating strategic partnerships and associations has been a pattern of the way we do business as Moneypenny, and more recently Penelope for many years. We realised relatively early on in our company development that we needed to align our brand with those organisations and businesses that had both a strong reputation for quality and service as well as a significant market reach.
Our early marketing when we launched Moneypenny in 2000 followed many of the traditional routes of the time - direct mail, literature, advertising, face to face networking and the occasional interview or editorial story in a newspaper or magazine. Our name started to make its way out there but we knew we needed to reach large as well as defined audiences to grow our business, so to do that we identified the potential of strategic alliances.
It was a conscious decision to look at growing our business through sectors as well as in the broader marketplace. We knew we could approach this in two different ways – by forging associations and gaining endorsements from industry bodies to build credibility and a reputation of trust for our own brand, and through commercial partnerships which would be more of a business arrangement of mutual benefit. We wanted to be part of the industry conversations, in amongst it, at events, getting to know people, introducing our service to an already informed audience, rather than cold, inefficient marketing from the outside.
The legal sector was one of our early target markets and we were already building a dedicated team within the business focussing solely on answering calls for law firms. Our reputation was growing and we made the bold move of approaching the Law Society with an offer to all its members of a no-obligation trial of the Moneypenny service. After a detailed due diligence process we could proudly display their endorsement which immediately gave firms confidence, boosted our reach and opened doors that may otherwise have been closed. Through this member benefits channel we had a presence on their website, in newsletters and literature and access to a whole host of new events.
We wanted to replicate this success so we set about building other strategic relationships through new channels; in property, leisure and hospitality, healthcare, dentistry, veterinary care and many others. It’s about being creative and flexible, providing each partner organisation with an arrangement to suit them and their members, whether that be a free trial or special offer, money off a product, a financial incentive, a commitment to marketing spend - whatever works best for the organisation and their audience.
Inevitably some of our link ups have been more successful than others and we’ve learnt that so often it’s not about the size of the association or partner organisation but how engaged their own audiences are and the relationship they have with them. It’s important to do your homework because it’s as much about protecting your own reputation as building new leads.
Choosing the right domain for our website has also been an important part of growing our business. We decided to register with a .co.uk domain because we only provide telephone answering services to businesses within the UK which also meant that our main focus would be UK search engines. Having a .co.uk domain is also a great way of instantly informing our customers and potential partners that we are a trusted British business.
For Penelope, our virtual phone system launched in 2013, this type of partner marketing is fast becoming a significant channel for new business generation, again building the reputation and credibility of a new product as it gains momentum. Penelope partners already include the Start Up Loans Company, Enterprise Nation, FreeAgent, Moo, Notonthehighstreet and of course Smarta!
From humble beginnings of a brother and sister business with £10,000, no experience and one big idea, Moneypenny is now the UK’s market leader answering around 8.2 million calls a year for 6,500 businesses. Penelope is moving fast too and we have no doubt that our approach to building meaningful partnerships has played an important part in our all round business growth.”