7 Business Hacks for Cross Promoting
Cross promotions are a GREAT way to foster an ongoing partnership with another company to send business your way year-round.
An effective cross promotion:
Costs little to nothing financially
Mutually benefits both partners
Can function as your best lead magnet
But, it's important to think strategically before running out to every business you meet to offer a partnership.
So let's start with the 7 Hacks, and then we'll explore some real-life examples of how to implement these strategies.
Don’t Even Bother if You’re Not Going to Do These 7 Things...
1. Ensure it’s the right clientele for you both.
The trick is to partner with a company that has the same target market without competing with each other. Consider shops that are geographically near yours but in different industries, or different services that pair well together. An ice cream shop next to a casual restaurant that doesn’t offer dessert offers coupons or date night bundles. A massage therapist and a nail salon joining forces to offer spa day packages. A photographer and a quilt shop offering newborn portrait packages with a custom baby blanket featured in the photos.
2. Darlin', darlin,' stand by me.
Find a partner whose products/services you stand by. You are staking your reputation on someone else’s business, so be sure to test out the products or services at any company before you seek a cross promotion partnership. I want my clients to know that I would never promote a brand I didn’t support.
3. Make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.
Create an ignore-proof incentive. Do not use a generic 10% Off coupon. Do not use a generic 10% off coupon. Do not use a generic 10% off coupon. Are we clear? Why? Because it WILL end up in the trash or the bottom of her purse. 10% barely covers taxes or gas. Show me the money. Show me the freebies. Show me an excuse to come see you.
4. A brand in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Now that you have that offer that your potential new customer is excited about, give her a way to remember it. Put a coupon in her hand. Something she’ll be able to hang on her refrigerator and remember to use later. Design a simple coupon that is branded for both businesses. And remember, simple coupons are more effective visual reminders than complicated ads.
A not-so-good coupon looks like this:
A better coupon looks like this:
5. Have a re-engagement strategy in place.
The goal here is to convert a lifetime customer, so be sure you have a plan to latch your greedy paws on her credit card forever when she shows up to use her coupon. Oops, I mean, “give her fantastic customer service and encourage repeat business.” Woo her. Smile a lot and ask her about her day. But most importantly, make her want to come back over and over again.
6. Track your ROI.
Your Return on Investment should be checked at least twice per year on this cross promotion. Make sure it’s worth the time and money you invest in making unique coupons, meeting your partner on occasion, having unique events, and fostering the partnership. Which means you need to be keeping track of your time and money spent on any promotions.
7. Keep buttering up your partners.
It’s totally crappy to have spent a year talking up someone else’s services and handing out their coupons to find out that they aren’t returning the favor. It’s all about reciprocity here, so if the relationship becomes one-sided, it’s time to bail. Usually, though, the partner has simply forgotten about you or fails to make it a habit to mention your cross promotion. That’s why it’s important to find ways to keep buttering up your partners. Offer THEM discounts or free trials so that they remember how great your services/products are. Buy their products and make sure they know you've done so. Tag them in social media blasts to let them know you’re still shouting their praises.
Real, Usable Examples: How 6 Businesses Partnered to Make More $$$ Together
Hair Studio + Nail Salon:
Two nearby salons offer special discounts for each others’ customers. Look at all those coupons!!! And both brands are mentioned on the coupon flyer, so it's a reminder of the partnership to everyone.
Nail Salon’s Re-engagement Strategy: Sign up with email or phone number to receive a free birthday manicure text/email coupon. Monthly updates on color trends with fashion round-ups and a reminder of salon’s great prices for nail color.
Stats: Nail Salon receives average of 3 new customers per month from Hair Studio. Each customer has an average annual value of $120. That’s $4,320 revenue generated annually from this cross promotion.
If the coupons cost $50 to print, $45 to design, and $5 average cost in supplies for customers utilizing coupons, that means the cross promotion generates $4,045 profit for the Nail Salon.
Dance Studio + Bakery/Candy Shop
Debbie’s Dance Stars holds an open house every year to encourage new students to try classes for free. Partnering with Sweetie Pie’s Bakery to give away free cupcakes at the event is a great chance to add incentive to come to the party, and Sweetie Pie’s can introduce herself to a whole new audience. In exchange, Sweetie Pie’s gives out a “Try One Class Free” coupon to every child who purchases a birthday cake throughout the year.
Bakery’s Re-engagement Strategy: Enter a naming contest for a new flavor being tested out at the dance open house. Sign up with email and birthday to submit entry. Receive updates on new flavors and birthday cake designs. Get a custom Sweetie Pie's sticker to put on your calendar that says “Time to order your birthday cake from Sweetie Pie’s!”
Stats: Bakery receives 30 new subscribers from open house. 10 order their birthday cakes (average $220) that year from SP’s. $2,200 annual revenue from this cross promotion.
If the free cupcakes cost $40 to make, and the stickers cost $25 to print, that means the cross promotion generates $2,135 profit for the bakery.
*Bonus idea: The bakery can plan to sell off whatever cupcakes are left at the end of the open house with the proceeds benefitting a local animal shelter. This could generate free publicity for the event in local news, eliminate waste, plus get some of the cost covered in making the free cupcakes
Dog Trainer + Veterinarian
My dog training business partnered with the Walnut Grove Animal Clinic to promote their boarding facility. All of my new clients received information about the boarding rates at the vet, and in return, all of the new puppy check-ups received my training information in the vet’s puppy kits. (Quite often, people will take their dogs to the nearest vet to their house, but will drive further for a great pet boarding option when they go out of town. That's why we focused on their boarding services.)
Trainer’s Re-engagement Strategy: My students got regular offers for add-ons after their initial classes ended. Things like, around holiday season, emailing them a coupon for buy-one-get-one free board-and-train added to their next boarding at the Animal Clinic (constantly keeping the connection alive between myself and the vets)
Stats: I received an average of 2 new students per month from Hair Studio. Each customer has an average annual value of $200. That’s $4,800 revenue generated annually from this cross promotion. If the information sheets cost $50 to print, $45 to design, that means the cross promotion generated $4,705 in profit for me annually.