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What you are referring to is a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie, if I lose a sale I lose a share of the pie.
If you think about strategic partnerships in terms of increasing overall sales for the group rather than just increasing sales for a single member of the group you'll see the benefit of strategic partnerships.
If you examine the works of John Nash, particularly his bargaining theory, you'll see that many large corporations embrace similar strategies to the benefit of all the members involved. It's when members of the group elect to put their interests above the interests of the group that problems arise.
Strategic partnerships work well on the web and the concept is just beginning to become evident among smaller businesses that have realized the benefits.
By "Strategic partnerships", you mean site A links with site B, but their products complement one another (tennis rackets and tennis balls), but not directly compete with the exact same item (tennis rackets vs. tennis rackets of same manufacturer)?
Sorry, I don't have a clue what you mean by this hurlimann,
"We have done : We still do: We will continue to:"
Obviously, the people currently raking in the lion's share of the market would be opposed to partnering with a business with little exposure. So rather than contact the people ranking #1, the people ranking 20 through 10 should get together and talk... :)
Please forgive my skepticism, but what research study or direct source provides proof that such a linking strategy actually increased the sales or profits of sites that have link to each other that are selling the same item?
It arrogant to believe that ever visitor which enters your site will find "exactly what they are looking for".
By giving these visitor a "direct" choice for other products (the partner/competitor) they will more likely remember the path they took and come back to you.
The same holds true for your partner/competitor, it arrogant to believe that ever visitor to his site will find "exactly what they are looking for" and the click-through to yours.
In addition, your site should contain more indepth information of your product than that displayed on the other site and therefore bringing "product focused" visitors to yours.
Again the partner/competitor display at your site would be less indepth and bringing "product focused" visitors to his site.
As far as research study -- traditional marketing, promotion and sales principles. Why do businesses place an ad in say: "a magazine" where all there competitors advertise as well?
"Topic focused" and that's where they believe their markets are.
Unless you ever-expand your reach to new customers and new paths to those customers, you will be relying solely on the needs for existing customers, and those needs take time to change.
I appreciate the philosophical and theoretical ideas presented, but to really convince me is some statistical data that shows increased sales and profits linking to other sites that sell the same exact product. You convinced me on one half of the idea, now it needs the hard data. Doesn't anyone use hard data these days before making a decision or taking action?
Banner Ads work exceptionally well when located on "same theme" sites, this is no different.
If you really need quantified evidence: [infozip.com...] carries many such reports, studies, and surveys from leading marketing research companies.
A bit pricey ($2,000 to 10,000 US) but if "hard data" is needed this is route you need to take.