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What is cross-promotion? What small businesses need to know

What is cross-promotion? What small businesses need to know

A business doesn’t exist on an island, but inside a larger community. And just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to build a successful business. But a community is made up of more than just individual people — businesses, too, can help boast another business. While new business owners may shy away from other working with other businesses, cross-promotion can be a very effective tool.

Cross-promotion is simply a promotion that’s shared between two businesses. Consider it a sort of “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine” among two different businesses. In a cross-promotion, businesses may trade ads on each other’s websites, displays in each other’s stores, post on each others social media networks and more.

To be effective, most cross-promotion is done with a non-competing business in the same industry or that has the same target audience. For example, a wedding photographer can run a cross-promotion with a bridal gown shop. The same customers will shop at both, yet the two companies aren’t in competition with each other.

Cross-promotion is not only an effective strategy for reaching your target audience, but can be very cost effective. You’re not paying to take out a billboard or newspaper ad. Instead, you are essentially trading services with another business. That doesn’t mean it’s always free — you may need to print out brochures if you are swapping an in-store display, for example. But, compared to other types of marketing, cross-promotion is one of the more affordable options.

Cross-promotion can take on many different forms. Here are just a few examples:

  • Trade social media posts. Promote each other to your followers for an easy and inexpensive option.
  • Swap mentions in newsletters. Whether it’s a physical newsletter or email marketing, trade a mention in each of your lists.
  • Trade in-store displays. Something like a simple brochure, or even a wall hanging can work. There are lots of different options here.
  • Write guest blog posts. Trade posts on each other’s blogs by writing a guest blog related to your product or with links back to your online store.
  • Instead of doing cross-promotion with a business, consider working with a non-profit.

To get started, brainstorm some businesses in your area that have similar target audiences, but aren’t direct competitors. Then start reaching out to gauge interest and work together on finalising what the cross-promotion will look like.

Cross-promotions don’t have to be one-time deals. Businesses can develop long term relationships with other similar businesses to create an effective, affordable way to continue reaching out to potential new customers.

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