Stretch your budget with cross-promotion

It's Your Business October column

Joe Smith

Special to The Record

In the world of marketing, cross-promotions seem to be everywhere. Most notable are the alliances created by the movie industry with auto dealers, fast food operations and national retailers. However you don’t need to have big bucks to get in on the action.

Cross-promotions in essence are joint marketing ventures between businesses whose target markets share some common demographics and enjoy similar lifestyle characteristics. The advantage of course is that you are pooling not only your financial resources but are sharing your expertise.

Sound simple? It is when you take the time to put some thought into who you want as a partner and develop a strategy that is a win-win for all concerned. Most important is the realization that you will be linking your reputation and brand awareness so you need to choose very carefully.

Before you even start you need to know who your own customer base is. Only then can you begin to start looking at businesses around you who might have a similar audience … with the understanding of course that they are not selling competitive products or services.

Before you jump in with both feet there are a few things you need to ensure before you even start developing a strategy. First of all are you a natural fit? Will you be able to enhance each other’s reputation and credibility? Can you bring different resources into the mix? And most important particularly for a small business can you work well with your potential partner?

Done properly, cross-promotion has all the potential to inject new energy into your marketing and advertising strategies. Not only does it allow you to increase your exposure, build on your reputation but do it in a cost effective and efficient manner.

Whether you are a large or small business, home-based or storefront, cross-promotion can help you stand out in the marketplace. Here are a few ideas that can help get you started.

• Offer a discount, reward or specialty item redeemable at your partner’s business and make a similar offer available at your business for your partner’s customers.

• Provide links on your website or other social media. There could even be an opportunity to run a small ad on your partner’s home page.

• Co-sponsor a good cause. Not only will you reach out to each other’s customer base but will also endear your company to those who have a special interest in the cause.

• Share a booth at a trade show, business expo, community event or develop a contest that requires entrants to come in contact with both of your companies.

• And last but not least go on-line and search for ideas. The number of cross-promotional opportunities is only limited by your imagination. Once you have found a partner to work with do some brainstorming and you will find that your ideas will only be limited by your budget. Remember the most successful cross-promotion relationships always bring added value to all concerned and work twice as hard because you are doubling or tripling your efforts.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca

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