Uniting with another small business (or two!) to promote each other’s products and services is a great way to market your company. Collaboration and cross-promotion are effective ways to build your brand, attract new customers and expand the services you offer your clients.
However, there are some things you need to know before joining forces. Here are some of the best practices you can use to identify partners and make the most of cross-promotional opportunities.
1. Look for product and service synergies
If you’re a tax accountant who assists customers during IRS audits, it’s important to have a great tax attorney in your Rolodex. Or perhaps you’re a graphic designer whose clients routinely ask for help finding writers to develop their website copy. In every line of business, there are products and services that form natural synergies with what you offer. Develop a list of these areas, and focus on building your network with trusted professionals who have complementary skills.
2. Identify existing referral partners
Are colleagues, partners or friends already sending you business? Many cross-promotional opportunities begin organically. Spend time tracking where your business currently comes from. If specific individuals or businesses are already sending you referrals, be proactive about formalizing the relationship. Reach out, express your appreciation for their referrals, offer to set up a compensation structure, and ask how you can help promote their business goals.
3. Participate in referral communities
If your own immediate network isn’t yielding the cross-promotional opportunities you want, consider participating in a referral community. Referral communities exist as platforms for small businesses to find other professionals to partner with. Established websites such as ReferralKey make it easy to ask for and track business referrals. You also can start similar initiatives through your local chamber of commerce or Business Networking International chapter. Online industry groups on LinkedIn can also be a valuable resource. Always vet any potential partner first, though, to ensure you’re recommending only the best to your customers.
4. Start a referral program
If you’re hoping to ramp up referral business, establish a formal referral program for your business. Often, businesses offer compensation for referrals. Some common payment structures include a one-time flat fee per customer, a percentage of the initial sale and a percentage of revenues for the lifetime of the customer relationship. Having a clear agreement in place motivates businesses to promote your products or services, and avoids conflict over compensation issues.
5. Explore shared publicity opportunities
Another cross-promotion avenue to explore is shared marketing platforms. One recent example included a group of wedding professionals in the Atlanta area that joined forces to host a wedding show. Area brides could meet dressmakers, makeup artists, caterers, event planners and more under one roof. Each business shared a portion of the expenses and got valuable exposure to target clients. Depending on your industry, shared advertisements, cross-promotion focused email lists and contributing to a centrally themed blog are all effective strategies.
Cross-promotions are a great way to get the word out about your business while reaching new customers and supporting other local entrepreneurs. For help crafting your message to share with partners and customers, contact Mischa Communications today for all your small business marketing and communications needs.