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How to Use Fusion Marketing Create a strategic alliance with a similar business and watch your business grow.

By Al Lautenslager Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When I walked into the dry cleaners the other day to drop off my shirts, I found a $5-off coupon on the counter for the pizza shop two doors down. I decided I wanted pizza, so I walked down to the pizza shop, redeemed my coupon, and found a coupon on their counter for $5 off at the dry-cleaning place I was just at. These two establishments were sending traffic to each other; they had formed a strategic business alliance. In the world of Guerrilla Marketing, this is known as fusion marketing.

As entrepreneurs, we always think we have to do things alone, but its amazing the synergy available from collaborating or aligning with others. Fusion marketing can take your business to levels you never thought possible before now.

Those that are likely collaborators or fusion marketing alliances are power partners. A "power partner" is a business that has a similar target market as yours but doesn't really compete with you. Examples of this are an estate planning attorney and a life insurance salesperson; a graphic designer and a printer; a real estate professional and a mortgage broker; a wedding photographer and a caterer or disc jockey. I think when you look at these examples you start to get the idea. The number of power partners or fusion marketing partners is only limited by your imagination.

Fusion arrangements can come in many forms in addition to the coupon example above--you can join your mailing list with your partners and do a joint mailing; you can make joint sales calls; you can offer an incentive from your alliance partner for each purchase of your product and vice-versa for your partner.

I know a printer who offers a free pizza coupon or free ice cream coupon on the back page of their notepads. The pizza place and ice cream store get the benefit of the distribution of the notepads to the printing company's prospects, and the printing company gets the benefit of offering their prospects something for free.

Easy Steps to Setting Up Your Own Fusion Marketing Arrangement
Here are easy steps you can take to set up your own fusion marketing arrangements:

  • Step 1: Define your power partners. A power partner is someone who has similar prospects as you and who could benefit from the same type of prospects, but isn't in the same business. Examples: landscaper/builder, realtor/mortgage broker, network marketer/entrepreneur, massage therapist/chiropractor.
  • Step 2: Figure out with your power partner what your offer will be. Maybe the printer gives a two-for-one offer while the designer offers to design a logo along with the design piece of a direct-mail piece. Maybe the attorney offers a free consultation on wills while the insurance salesperson offers a tips list on avoiding probate tax. Maybe the massage therapist offers a free midday office visit for a massage break while the chiropractor offers a back adjustment. Figure out what joint offer makes sense.
  • Step 3: Write up a general letter of agreement. This doesn't have to be a major-league legal document, but the one thing that hinders an alliance is lack of communication. This assures who does what and gets what. It can be a simple e-mail exchange.
  • Step 4: Package it up. Write all the verbiage: the marketing copy, sales letter, press releases (if appropriate), e-mail letters, etc. Either have both businesses write it up and compare notes or have one write it and let the other approve. Be creative here. Be benefit-oriented. What's in it for the prospect?
  • Step 5: Combine mailing lists and communicate to both sets. Don't worry about who has more or less--just combine them. When I put my list together with your list we both have a list much bigger than if we did it alone. You can do this with direct mail or e-mail; obviously e-mail is cheaper.
  • Step 6: Be responsive to any responses. Fulfill offers; make it easy to sign up, to buy, to take the next step and keep track. Follow up and attention will convert prospects into paying customers. Share leads and conversions for future follow-up and future marketing.
  • Step 7: Follow up. Both businesses should continue marketing to each of the converted people as follow-up marketing.

That's all there really is to it. It's a straight set of deliberate, planned-out steps, with a high degree of communication and execution. That's what all marketing is, and the more it's spelled out and planned out, the higher probability someone will act upon in. That's what all the marketing I get involved in does--this is the key to marketing. It's not going to happen overnight but with steps, plans and accountability, you'll increase your revenue. I prove it to myself every day, and I prove it to my clients.

Al Lautenslager

Author, Speaker, and Consultant

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing expert, bestselling author, highly sought-after speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Market For Profits, a Midwestern-based marketing consulting firm; former president and owner of The Ink Well, a direct marketing, printing, and a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

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