Reap the Promotional Benefits of Co-Marketing

by Jan Fletcher on February 28, 2013
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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.

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