Team Effort

Choose Wisely

Think the idea of a team effort sounds good? Remember these tips:

  • Find birds of a feather. The key to successful cross-promotion is to find other non-competing businesses that are going after the same customer base as your business. Three Beans and its cigar-shop neighbor enjoy success because they have similar geographic and demographic audiences.
  • Choose wisely. Remember that you are tying your company's reputation to your promotional partner. Make sure that you choose businesses and people you trust.
  • Make sure it makes sense. Don't spend money on promotions you think may not be right for your company. If your promotional partner and you are not seeing eye-to-eye on key messages, content or image, take a pass on the project.
  • Planning makes perfect. Make sure each element of the promotion is clear and that both you and your partner know what to expect from each other. Try your efforts for a fixed period. That way you can evaluate your efforts, and, if they're not working, you can exit gracefully.
  • Good paperwork makes good cross-promoters. Once you've finalized the details, put everything in writing, including how much the promotion will cost, if applicable, and how it will be paid. If a significant investment is involved, such as for a major joint advertising or mailing, you may wish to have your attorney draft a contract.

Straijer plans to continue her cross-promotional efforts and actively makes referrals through the network she's built. In addition to the benefits Three Beans has enjoyed, Straijer's clients have found jobs, struck business deals and sold houses (five, to be exact) through her expansive cast of contacts. And that keeps customers coming back.

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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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