Attract More Customers With Less Effort Through the Right Cross-Promotions
by Kare Anderson, Author & Speaker
Last Valentine’s Day, several neighborhood businesses -- including a massage practice, bookstore, women’s medical clinic, florist, healthfood store, shopper newspaper and beauty salon -- joined forces for a month-long promotion. The bookstore hosted a series of "Beauty Inside Out" - themed series of in-store demonstrations and mini-seminars each led by a manager of one of the participating businesses and highlighting a book collection and related products and services.
Each presenter offered a handout that also included reference to at least one of the other cross-promoting business, plus a joint offer of services with one of them, and included a bibliography of related books attendees might want to purchase at the bookstore. Each presenter wrote a guest column based on their presentation, which was featured in the shopper newspaper, with the author’s follow-up offer noted at the bottom of the article.
You don’t have to work alone, when you attempt to market your products or services. It is not as fun nor as efficient. Regardless of the size or kind of business (or non-profit or government agency) you operate, you can grow it faster, not through "solo" networking, advertising, or other promotional efforts, but through cross-promotion with others.
Look for other successful, non-competing businesses that also serve your kind of client. Propose ways you can improve how you contact or service your "mutual market." For example, the administrator of a new laser and dermatology clinic decided to make a big splash with a small budget for their "Grand Opening Month," targeting the local, upscale, over-30 women which he most wanted to reach. He devised a series of cross-promotions with other likely and unlikely partners who also reached that market. One cross-promotion involved a gourmet Italian food home delivery service, beauty salon, graphic designer (designed the flyer), nutritionist, luxury bedroom linens store and a museum gift shop. Together they underwrote the design, and production of an elegant, accordion-fold mini-poster, self-mailer series of perforated coupons, headlined "You deserve more self-indulgences in your life (don’t you?) . . . " When you opened up the mailer, the follow-up headline read: " . . . .and don’t the ones you love deserve them too?"
This flyer went on to list offers and eye-grabbing statistics. It was mailed and displayed in the outlets of all the participating businesses. The benefits? Each business gained credible access to prospective customers through vendors those people already used and trusted. Plus the cross-promoting partners could afford to put more into the design costs because, by working together, they dramatically reduced their individual promotion costs.
These are not isolated incidents. Cross-promotional marketing is a growing phenomena and one of the least-expensive, most efficient, least time-consuming and most-credible methods for marketing a business. Simply put, cross-promotional marketing is the act of strategically aligning businesses that target the same market but do not directly compete with each other. Cross-promoting provides an avenue for any business, from home-based, to corporate to franchise, to reach larger audiences of prospective clients for less money by pooling resources (time, money, ideas, on-site space for events or display space, contacts and more) to get more bang for their marketing buck.
Simply put, a cross-promotion is whenever two or more organizations join forces to better attract and/or serve their mutual market of customers. It is being enthusiastically adopted by all kinds and sizes of businesses because it is more cost-effective than traditional "solo" marketing, networking, advertising or other public relations efforts could be. Further, conducting cross-promotions gives business managers a satisfying, often fun, way to share expertise and to get to know other entrepreneurs in her community.
Cross-promotional marketing offers several benefits because it helps you:
~ Advertise ~ E-Market ~ Contact Info ~ Site Map ~ Home ~
Take Advantage of the "Multiplier Effect" to Attract More Clients
Two cross-promoting partners can more than double the number of prospects they each reach. Three of the right partners can gain five times the exposure -- without spending more!
Cross-promotion is more than a marketing tool, it is a frame of mind. Instead of just looking at how you can get someone to buy professional massage services from you, you look for other business (or non-profit) managers who also serve your kind of customer and propose ways you can work together to better attract and serve your "mutual market" of current and prospective clients. You move from "hard sell" efforts to "soft sell" approaches that may feel more comfortable for you.
Easy Examples: A massage therapist placed a museum-quality lucite box on the table in the waiting area, to hold coupon cards worth $3 off their clients’ purchase of $20 or more of products from a list of cross-promoting nearby companies (florist, beauty supply store, athletic equipment outlet, cosmetic and laser care center and card shop). All the partnering outlets displayed similar boxes, with the following sign on top "Live Life More Fully -- Starting Now."
A gas station had a lucite box on their gas pumps at eye level, offering flyers with offers from their cross-promoting partners who also displayed coupons to draw customers to their station.
That cross-promotion proved so successful that they recruited more partners and offered customers additional value, thus bringing down the cost for each business and increasing their exposure among more people.
The Profitable Results? Their partnering businesses’ coupons build loyalty from their existing customers. They can appear where their competition isn’t even in sight. And they don’t have to pay for the position. They trade for it. Nothing beats the credibility of another business touting your product’s differentiating benefit. Partners reach more prospective customers at a lower cost. Prospects are introduced to each business in a powerful way-- through vendors they already use. Using their imagination, familiarity with their customers and the right cross-promotion, they out-wit companies with massive promotional budgets.
Recruit the Most Universally Powerful Partners
Look for opportunities to involve the three universally most powerful kinds of partners: banks, gas stations and grocery stores. Why? Because they are the three kinds of outlets that most people are most likely to frequent at least once a month. Each are changing and getting into each other’s businesses.
Gas stations are adding convenience stores, for example. some are already cross-promoting by sharing space, such as banks in supermarkets. Regardless of their evolution, these are the three most valuable kinds of partners you can recruit to reach your mass market of customer. Note, for example, the gas station-related "easy example", we described earlier.
First Step: Know Your Kind of Client
Look at the kinds of people most likely to use your massage services, both in
terms of the how they make the decision to use your service, and in the larger
picture of how they lead their lives. Once you see how they spend their time
and money, you will get ideas about the kind of businesses to approach about
partnering on a cross-promotion. For example, many of your kind of steady
clients probably have some characteristics in common" such as sex, age, ethnicity, other places they also frequent, reading choices, other places they go regularly, cause they support, clothes they wear, etc.
These questions may help you gather a detailed profile of your kind of customer so you can look for the most beneficial partners and create the most valued cross-promotions:
- Stand out in a crowded marketplace.
- Stabilize cash flow and you helped each other through your different cycles
of fast and slow business times.
- Generate more reasons for people to buy -- and buy more.
- Improve your support of community causes.
- Reach more prospects, more frequently, while spending the same or less on
- Build credibility with your clients and your community.
- Have fun collaborating to your mutual benefit.
Recruit the Best Cross-Promotional Partners
Since you want to reach more prospective clients, more frequently, with less
effort and cost, with informative messages or offers that pull people to your
service, look for the partners that will best help you do that.
Choose partners on the basis of the customers they serve and their reputation,
rather than the actual products or services they provide. For example, a moving company owner cross-promoted with a local storage facility, remodelling contractor and phone service provider to create a brochure they distributed to their prospects, shopper newspaper (as a guest column with an offer at the end to mail 20 additional tips, thus gathering a database of prospects for all partners), vendors and placed on their web sites: "Twenty Tips to Making Your Home Move Less Stressful". Choose the partnering organizations with whom you could join forces to offer a jointly created brochure.
Your best cross-promotional partners are organizations that:
- Where do they live and/or do business?
- Where do they go or do before or after they see you?
- What is their profession or industry?
- How did they learn about you?
- What other businesses do they tend to use?
- Why do they use your service?
- Why have they chosen you over your competitors?
- What local publications do they read?
- What are their most frequently cited complaints or compliments about?
- When are they most likely to use your service?
- What else could they buy or otherwise use in conjunction to your service
that would make your service more pleasurable, convenient, cost-effective,
time-saving or otherwise beneficial for them?
- How could you adjust how you offer your service (with the support of
partners) to make it more valued by your customers (hours, places available,
ways to purchase, bundled with other purchases, etc.)?
When approaching a potential cross-promotional partner, begin by indicating
that you want to explore a method that would enable them to reach more of
their kind of customers while spending the same amount or less time and money.
Then ask to describe one simple kind of cross-promotion you might try first;
describing clearly what the benefits and the responsibilities would be.
Make News With Unlikely Allies!
Partner with people outside your industry or profession and you are even more
likely to attract media coverage.. Plus your message or offer appears (through your partners) where your competition is not even in sight.
Example: partners to reach a local market of middle class women, ages 30-55:
realty, health clinic, dry cleaner, and beauty salon.
**Click Here to read "Some Specific, Successful Cross-Promotion Methods", the second half of this two part series on Cross-Promotion by Kare Anderson.
© by Kare Anderson. All rights reserved.
Kare Anderson is a behavioral futurist who speaks and writes about "Say It Better" methods of thoughtful communication, conflict resolution, cross-promotion and outreach, and multisensory techniques to create more memorable on-site experiences. An Emmy-winning former TV commentator, Wall Street Journal reporter, she’s a national columnist in 98 monthly magazines (from Gourmet Retailer to Broadcast Engineering), nine-time author ( Getting What You Want, Pocket Cross-Promotions, Make Yourself Memorable, Beauty Inside Out, Cutting Deals With Unlikely Allies, Resolving Conflict Sooner...) and publisher of the "Say It Better" online newsletter now read by over 17,000 people in 32 countries. Anderson is also the co-founder of The Compelling Communications Group
The Compelling Communications Group
- Serve the same kind of customers, but do not compete
- Have managers you already know so they will be more receptive to working
- Serve the kind of people you want to attract to your business
- May be able to help you during your slow times, because those are their busy
times, and vice versa
- Have a reputation that can lend prestige, credibility or other value to your
- Have a customer base that is at least as large as yours
- Have some different resources than you (highly visible site, mailing list,
celebrity staffer, expertise, event space, one different niche market, etc.)
- Have products that could be bundled with your services, and vice versa
- Have compatible values
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