Team Effort

For Less Cost, Cross

Need some proof? Check out Three Beans Coffee Co. in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Proprietor Jacqueline Straijer, 36, has made an art form out of cross-promoting her coffeehouse with other local businesses. From the art on her walls to the coffee in her brewers, Straijer has struck strategic alliances with several business partners, and the results have been outstanding. Three Bean has expanded twice since it opened nearly four years ago, has more than quadrupled the size of its space and had sales totals reach $250,000 in 1999.

"I don't spend a lot of money on advertising anymore," says Straijer. "I get more customers and more new business through cross-promotions-at a lower cost than ever before."

Among some of the savvy deals Straijer has struck: The local community theater and Three Beans offer reciprocal discounts and are currently negotiating a deal to put a coffee concession stand in the theater's lobby. She and a neighboring cigar-store owner buy joint ads in the local newspaper and send mailings together, cutting their costs in half. By working with a local entertainment company to launch a community event, Straijer received sponsorship announcements on a local radio station several times per hour for nearly three weeks.

Straijer has also cut some of the operating costs at Three Beans Coffee Co. through cross-promotion, including decorating the shop's walls with artwork from a local gallery and promoting a local music store, which, in exchange, organizes and replenishes Three Beans' CD collection by replacing disks that get scratched through frequent customer use.

Straijer says, however, that the best benefit comes from working to support her own community. "Much of the economic strength of a community comes through small businesses," she says. "If you want to keep your community economically sound, the best thing to do is to support your local small businesses."

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the April 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Team Effort.

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