Jun 08, 2016
Cross-marketing 101 What is it and how do you get started?
Are you familiar with cross-marketing and are you using it to grow your business and to reach more potential clients?
Cross marketing can not only help you increase your audience, but also:
- Build credibility when you partner with other reputable businesses
- Network with like-minded businesses
- Save you time and money on marketing efforts if they are shared with one or more other businesses
- Offer your clients even more valuable products or services
If you’re unfamiliar with cross-marketing and unsure how to get started, then this article will help you to identify opportunities.
What is cross marketing?
Cross marketing, also known as cross promotion, is a marketing strategy that targets a common audience for two or more related products or services.
In other words, working with a business that is related to your own—but not direct competition—you and the related business market your products and/or services to a shared audience.
Not long ago, I worked on a promotional piece for a client who offered French pastry classes. The baking equipment used in her classes was available a short distance away at a local kitchen supply store.
Realizing that each of the small businesses shared the same clientele, the business owners worked together to promote the services offered by the French pastry chef and the products offered by the kitchen supply store.
The kitchen supply store prominently featured the promotional piece that listed all available baking classes taught by the French pastry chef. In return, students who attended the pastry classes received a discount for any baking equipment purchased at the kitchen supply store—a win-win for both businesses.
Wedding industry, an example
One of the industries that does cross marketing well is the wedding industry. Weddings, and perhaps big events in general, rely on the efforts of multiple vendors to be successful. Typically, the larger the wedding, the more vendors are required.
The wedding industry offers many opportunities for related or complementary vendors to work together to promote their services to the same audience.
Wedding vendors sometimes participate in what’s called a wedding library, which is a closed network of vendors who provide a one-stop shop for their clients. Not many industries have something similiar to offer their target audience.
However, you don’t have to be part of the wedding industry to take advantage of cross marketing. You just have to know how to identify opportunities.
How to find cross-marketing opportunities
Cross marketing relies on you and other businesses having related or complementary products or services targeted to the same or similar audience.
It’s important to find trustworthy businesses who see the benefits of cross marketing, so that you don’t find yourself putting in more time and money than necessary for promotion or have your own reputation tarnished by association with a disreputable business.
Take the time to do the research. If you haven’t had experience with a business before, find out all you can about it. If you have worked with a business before, then you may already know how well you work together and whether or not the business is reliable.
If you’re a service provider, then consider who else your client may come in contact with either before or after working with you. For example, a photography client may need help from a graphic or web designer, who may be responsible for incorporating photos into a website or marketing collateral. A photographer may reach out to a designer to establish a cross marketing partnership.
Make sure that you and your potential partner share the same audience. Your marketing efforts won’t pay off if each of you is targeting different audiences.
For instance, if you’re a nutritionist who works primarily with families with food allergy issues, then partnering with a fitness trainer whose clients are mostly amateur athletes may not be an ideal fit despite the complementary services provided by each business.
If you’re thinking of approaching a business with whom you’ve not worked in the past, before you contact the business, do the following:
- Listen to word-of-mouth. Ask around about the business you’re thinking of approaching. Do others share positive, neutral, or negative remarks about the business?
- Check online reviews, such as Yelp or Google. Negative reviews sometimes reveal more about the reviewer than the business, but if the business responded to those reviews, how did they respond? That may be telling.
If the business checks out, then reach out via email. Maybe ask the business owner to coffee to learn more and to broach the subject of cross marketing.
What value can you bring to the other business
A cross marketing relationship needs to be beneficial to all partners, so before you approach another business, ask yourself what it is that you can bring to the table. Maybe you have a popular blog, a sizeable email list, or a strong social media following.
Whatever it is, you need to show your potential partner what you can do for the other business so they can recognize the value of cross marketing.
How you can help other businesses and how they can help you
Cross marketing is a give and take relationship. When considering ideas for how businesses can collaborate, don’t overlook some of the least expensive ways in which you can help each other, including:
- Social media mentions on your respective accounts
- One or more blog articles or guest blogging for one another
- Inclusion in an email newsletter
Each of these content channels may provide exposure to new and wider audiences for all partners. But there are other options to consider too, such as:
- Sharing the cost of a booth at a tradeshow
- A webinar or other online event that you both host
- A contest that features your products and/or services as prizes
- Coupons or discounts for customers who’ve already purchased from one or both of you
Cross marketing can involve a one-time only campaign or an on-going relationship between partners. While cross marketing also has its challenges, when carefully planned and executed, it can benefit all those involved.
The keys to making cross marketing work are finding a partner you trust, agreeing to a common goal, outlining the responsibilities of each party, and executing the steps to reach your goal.