Partner for Profits: Attract New Customers with a
Co-marketing Strategy

by Mia Steinberg

Cross-promotion Strategies

Co-marketing (or cross-promotion) is an extraordinarily useful way to increase your audience while saving time and money. It involves partnering with another company or business and creating a promotion which benefits both of you; by working together, you double your efforts and share the rewards.

An example of co-marketing would be if a bed and breakfast teamed up with a local walking tour and each promoted the other in various ways. With the right partner and strategy, you could end up reaching a whole new audience—and the increased revenue that comes with it.

Finding the right co-marketing partner can be tricky, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Cross promotions are great when they work, but can be frustrating if they fail. The key is to find a business which targets similar customers, but doesn’t directly compete with you. A local dog trainer and a local bakery making gourmet dog treats is an example of a good partnership; both cater to dog owners, but each has the potential to introduce new customers to the other business.

Entrepreneur.com suggests that you ask five questions of any cross-promotion proposal:

  1. Do the partner businesses complement and not compete with each other?
  2. Do they appeal to similar but not identical customers?
  3. Will the partnership enhance the reputation of all partners?
  4. Are the reputations, marketing styles and promotion goals of all partners a good match?
  5. Do all partners agree to a promotion plan, a budget, a timeline and responsibilities?”

Ideas for Co-marketing

Cross promotionThere are lots of different ways you can run a cross-promotion. These are just a few examples and ideas; be creative when coming up with your own strategy and try to make something really unique that customers will love.

Create Online Content Together

There are lots of ways that two companies can promote each other online. The simplest and easiest way is to guest blog on each others’ websites and link back to your own business. The content should be relevant and interesting, showcasing the connection your two companies have to your customers and the community.

For instance, a party rental company could write a post on a local photographer’s blog talking about some unique rentals people can get for their gatherings, while the photographer can write one about the importance of having your memories captured for posterity and have it posted to the rental company’s blog. Businesses may co-create a video, infographic, or webinar to help spread the word and show how they can work together.

Share Your Emails

You can also offer customers the chance to be on a joint mailing list with your partner, and then send out shared newsletters or email postcards. Pooling your mailing list can potentially double your reach—and remember that email marketing is one of the most effective tactics for reaching people and getting conversions. A kayak rental company and a local hotel owner could put out a joint email newsletter talking about the tourism industry in town and offering vouchers for each business, to encourage purchases.

Events or Contests

Never underestimate the power of a little razzle-dazzle. Getting together with another company to sponsor an event or hold a contest will get you lots of attention, and potentially lots of new customers. For a contest, create a prize package that combines the best of both companies—a free weekend at a cabin combined with a free trail ride with the local horse stables, for instance. More simply, two companies can sponsor a local event that will attract members of their target market. A yoga retreat could sponsor a local health food initiative’s food fair, spreading the word to a brand new segment of customers.

Offer Special Incentives

Coupons are a great way to get some new business; people love to save money and get a deal. Create a co-marketing campaign and offer reduced prices or special extras if customers buy from your partner, and vice versa. A customer renting ski equipment could get a coupon for a few dollars off at a local sporting goods store, and customers buying new winter coats could get a small discount on their skis. Since people are more likely to buy something if they have a coupon for it, this encourages them to visit the partner company and perhaps turn into regulars.

Promote Each Other During Slow Season

Relatedly, you can give yourself and your partner a boost by promoting each other during slow seasons. A jet ski company could have flyers for their partner snowmobile rental company, and vice versa. This is a great way of keeping yourself relevant and gaining new customers during your off months. You can combine this with a joint email newsletter to put out a promotion when one season is ending and the other beginning—“Our jet skis aren’t available for rental until next May, but give our friends at Snowmobile Inc a try for your winter thrills!”

Co-marketing involves teamwork, and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly; as with all business partnerships, it’s important to work with good people and have a well-reasoned plan. With a little creativity and finesse, you can reach out to a whole new segment of people and make a friend in the process. Don’t be afraid to cold-call local businesses that you think might make good partners; you never know what they’ll say. In the end, a cross-promotion could be one of the smartest marketing tactics in your toolbelt, and could foster a relationship which lasts for years into the future.

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