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Give And Take

Why it pays to partner up on your marketing efforts

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This story appears in the March 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

To really make it in e-tailing, you've got to keep customer-acquisition costs down. You have to find creative ways to move merchandise and increase sales. And you must add value to your customers' shopping experiences.

The secret to achieving all of the above-and more-may lie in a reliable strategy employed by the most innovative dotcoms. Known as reciprocal marketing, the tactic basically allows you to offer your paying customers discounts at your online partners' sites as well as provide discounts to your partners' customers on your site. To illustrate: If your customers spend $40 on your Web site, they then receive a gift certificate or discount coupon to use at a partner Web site. "Reciprocal marketing programs are a win-win-win for customers and any participating merchants," says Shel Horowitz, a low-cost marketing consultant and author of Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (Chelsea Green Publishing Co.). "You add more value to the customer's purchase and, at the same time, allow the partners in the deal to tap into each other's customer bases."

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