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Stand Out in an Over-Advertised World With the Right Partners
For those who have brick & mortar businesses or those who may want to partner with them to attract more customers while spending less - (with the right methods and partners)
What happens when pediatricians join forces with soccer coachs, school principals, city health clinic directors and childrens clothing to attract and serve their common base of customers: families with young children?
Together, they did what they could not have accomplished on their own. They offered a highly valued, emotionally-loaded and media-attracting service AND increase foot traffic into their stores and offices: "I Got My Shot" free immunizations for kids on Saturdays just before school started.
Immunizations were offered at family - convenient times in a roomy, cheerful childrens' store, with a party atmosphere where the kids were the center of attention.
Parents heard about the offer through all the participating outlets and received free snack coupons after the kids received their shots so they could reward their children with a snack from a nearby store.
Partners could provide better, more news-catching service at less cost and inspire greater community and customer loyalty -- while spending less.
Instead of solo advertising they cross-promoted to offered a combined service that naturally pulled their customers in. The partners' keys to success were a common market, non - competing products or services, shared values and comparably valuable resources to contribute to the cross-promotion.
Partners created a "passion bond" relationship with each other, their customers and many others who didn't even need shots but were motivated to try the partners' services anyway.
To stand out from their competition in an over-advertised world, all kinds and sizes of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies are joining forces to reach their mutual market of "customers" more efficiently. Their cross-promotions include "bundled" offerings, cause marketing, co-branding, coop marketing, and shared space.
Cross-promotion has the potential for a big marketing payoff because partners can successfully expand through one another's customer base. They can gain an inexpensive and credible introduction to more of their kind of customer more effectively than with the traditional "solo" methods of networking, advertising, or PR.
While the promise of "high tech" internet marketing grabs headlines another often "low tech" but "high touch", highly versatile and efficient marketing method is catching on with organizations as diverse as retailers, realtors and roofers: cross-promotion. Why? Because they reach more prospective customers more frequently and credibly while spending less.
Another Easy Example: A dentist offered her top 10% of most long-term patients the opportunity to get a free floral bouquet when the patients’ s referrals turned into patients for the dentist.
A dry cleaner attached a lucite box to the front of the cash register to hold coupons worth $3 off the customers' next tank of gas at a nearby gas station / convenience store.
The convenience store operator placed a similar box, displaying coupons worth $3 off their next dry cleaning. That proved so successful that they recruited more partners and offered customers additional value: coupons from their cross-promoting, nearby hardware store, beauty salon, fitness gym and shoe repair shop.
The Profitable Results: Their partnering businesses' coupons builds loyalty from their existing customers. They can appear where their competition isn't even in sight.
And they don't have to pay for the position. They trade for it. Nothing beats the credibility of another business touting your product's differentiating benefit.
Partners reach more prospective customers at a lower cost. Prospects are introduced to each business in a powerful way-- through vendors they already use.
Using their imagination, familiarity with their customers and the right cross-promotion, they out-wit companies with massive promotional budgets.
Here are some low-risk and high-opportunity ways to jump-start your first cross-promotion.
1. Print joint promotional messages on your bills.
2. Offer a reduced price, special service, or convenience if customers buy services or products from you and your partner.
3. Hang signs or posters promoting one another on your walls, windows, or products.
4. Mention one another's benefits when you speak at local events or are interviewed by the media.
5. Show the joint use of your services and their benefit on the health of patients
6. Pool mailing lists and send out a joint promotional postcard.
7. Promote your partner’s products during their slow times, and ask them to do the same for you.
8. Share inexpensive ads in local shopping papers or a nonprofit event program.
9. Give a joint interview to local media.
10. Put one another's promotional messages on Lucite stands on counters or floor stands in waiting areas.
11. Encourage your staff to mention how your partner's products can be used with yours.
12. Give your partner's product to your customers when they buy a large quantity of your product, and ask your partner to do the same.
13. Use door hangers, posters, flyers, or postcards to promote special offers for one another's products.
14. Co-produce an in-store or office event or demonstration, celebrity appearance, free service, or lecture.
Some Cross-Promotions Help You Stand Far Out from the Competition
1. Co-produce special promotions you could not afford by yourself.
Hire local community college broadcasting/cable TV students to produce a "how to use" video and/or audio tape that involves you and your partner's products and services.
Show the video on an eye-level TV monitor in your outlets where people have to wait or in the window for 24-hour viewing. Or play the audio-tape portion as background.
Example: An enterprising advertising agency, local quick-copy printer, and video production house get priceless visibility for cross-promoting with others to co-produce an educational audio/video/book package that prominently displays their company names: "Thirty Ways Smart People Make Their Homes More Safe."
The package is widely displayed and distributed to their partners' customers: a hardware store, home security company, police
department, real estate firm, home contractor, electrician, and school
2. Display combined use of partners' products in your outlet, and ask
partners to do the same.
Example: A "Valentine Love Food" display appeared in all partners'
outlets a month before Valentine's Day. Partners -- a cooking school,
kitchenware shop, florist, card shop, restaurant, and supermarket -- all displayed the makings for a romantic dinner menu to be served on Valentine's Day at their partner's restaurant.
Their displays were created by a local theatre set designer, who designed the current play, for which the customers of the partnersí outlets received a reduced price ticket when they bought the restaurant meal or certain products from the participating partners.
A local newlywed couple who won the partners' "Valentine Love Food" drawing and the local couple who proved they've been married the longest joined the local newspaper's food critic at the center table for the featured meal, free to them.
3. Have a contest, with the prizes contributed by your partners. For the next contest, roles change, and you contribute your product or service as a prize for a partner's contest.
Example: For two weeks, a dry cleaner places tags on all customers'
hangers, containing fashion tips. The tags are numbered tickets for a
contest to win gifts from the partners' clothing stores.
When the dry cleaner’s customers make any purchase from the stores, they show their hanger card to see if it matches one of the "winning numbers" on a card of numbers created by all the partners at the beginning of the contest.
Vary this cross-promotion by asking partners to have a card of winning numbers for the customers of the other partners to match for prizes.
4. Give customers a free product or service from a participating partner when they buy something that month from all of the partners listed in an ad or on a promotional postcard.
Example: Participating pediatrician practices, child care centers,
childrenís clothing shops, and toy stores all display a "Love Means Being Prepared" child-designed poster describing the recommended contents for a home medicine cabinet for families with young children.
5. Cross-promote by literally getting closer, sharing space.
Examples: A store or franchise leases space within another establishment (or agrees on side-by-side sites, or actually sells both kinds of products on site) -- Noah's Bagels sells Starbucks Coffee.
A restaurant or fast-food operation leases space within a hospital or motel -- Pizza Hut in Days Inn. Kinko's leases space within certain hotels.
Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits in a Kroger supermarket increases traffic for both guest and host companies.
The post office locates a substation in a supermarket.
An accessories store leases space within or next to a clothing store and is joined by internal doors. A stadium leases space to a concession operator.
The less traditional cross-promotions are just starting.
A campus leases space to a travel agency. Some franchises are co-branding with complementary services such as Copy, Pack & Ship.
Learn more about the author, Kare Anderson.
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