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Howdy, Partner

Promotional partnerships can double your marketing punch.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Want to increase the scope of your marketing efforts without spending any additional dollars? It may sound too good to be true, but you can do just that by partnering with other small companies that sell complementary but noncompetitive products and services to your target market. In this way, you get twice the exposure at half the cost. For instance, if you run a Web design firm, you might link up with a local ISP that can pass leads on to you. Or if you sell nutritional supplements, you could join forces with a local gym and display information about each other's products and services in your businesses.

You can also get together with other entrepreneurs whose services complement yours and market a series of seminars. By teaming with other business owners, you'll increase the number of possible attendies.

Forming promotional partnerships or alliances for your product doesn't necessarily mean that money has to change hands, but sometimes joint promotions are an easy way to piggyback products. These promotions can be a real bonus to your business, providing additional exposure to consumers of the partner product, not to mention reduced promotional costs since you share the expenses with your partner. Plus, the partner you choose doesn't have to have an obvious connection to your product or service.

Here's an illustration of how a couple of completely unrelated companies located near one another pulled off a joint promotion. A greenhouse that handles both perennials and annuals and a combination coffeehouse and bakery thought it would be great to sponsor a "Stop and Smell the Roses" promotion, during which anyone who made a purchase at either business received a coupon good for 20 percent off another purchase at the partner's business. The promotion only lasted for one week, but it brought in lots of new customers for both partners.

Search for as many strategic marketing alliances as possible. By teaming up with other business owners, you maximize your ability to reach customers and meet their needs.

Try analyzing the types of customers you have. What types of businesses are they in? What companies do they do business with? If you spot a significant number of your customers coming from one industry or one neighborhood, consider teaming up with other suppliers or vendors from that industry or area that might also supply your customers. Look into the future, and keep scouting for unlikely but timely partners.

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