Reap the Promotional Benefits of Co-Marketing

Have you considered waging a co-marketing campaign to boost your small business?

The concept is elementary-school simple: Team up with another merchant, one who doesn’t directly compete against you. Decide which complementary products or services the two of you want to tout together. Then devise a simple, joint marketing strategy to promote them.

Examples of Co-Marketing

Here’s how a co-marketing campaign might play out: Let’s say a bridal store teams up with a florist. While a bride-to-be is being fitted for a wedding dress, the store’s owner hands her a coupon for a discount on wedding-day floral arrangements, redeemable at a nearby flower shop. The flower shop reciprocates by posting the bridal store’s flyer in her window.

What if you don’t run a bricks-and-mortar store? No problem. Online merchants can join forces to offer virtual coupons and package deals that include products or services from their co-marketing partner.

Co-marketing campaigns can involve multiple merchants, too. Picture a social media campaign for Mother’s Day, in which three merchants cooperatively devise a holiday package deal through a co-marketing agreement. One offers a discount on flowers, and another promotes handmade chocolates — while a local restaurant offers a family dinner special.

Another way to co-market: Share a merchant booth at a festival or trade show. This can potentially save you money, and, if you’re a one-person shop, you’ll have a partner to man the booth when you need to step away.

How to Wage a Successful Campaign

Customers should be able to grasp the essence of your offer in a few seconds. Don’t obfuscate the offer with oodles of fine print. Ensure that any in-store displays or online advertisements for cooperative deals are easy to understand.

When offering a product or service as part of a package deal, flesh out your policies for accepting product returns — and work to ensure that each merchant bears an equal share of the restocking cost.

Although co-marketing deals are often made on a handshake, without a formal written contract, there are reputational risks to consider. What if one of the companies involved becomes embroiled in a controversy or receives negative media coverage? Have a conversation upfront with your co-marketing partners about what your response will be should such an event occur.

About Jan Fletcher

Jan Fletcher, President of Dreamcatch Creative, reports on restaurant operations, the signage industry, and composite manufacturing. She also writes about technology in business and education, and is passionate about microenterprise.
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