Use these 7 tips to build cross-promotional partnerships for publicity and profit

Have you ever teamed up with another business for a cross-promotion initiative to save marketing dollars? Think of all of the business owners you already know in your area—a florist, for example, or a real estate broker. Would any of them be open to the idea of pairing up to save?

Let’s look at what you need to do and consider to make this work in your favor.

Consider the differences. As with any promotional strategy, you’ll want to have a plan of attack before you start approaching other business owners. Take some time to figure out why someone would want to come to your pizzeria. What makes you different? What can someone get from you that cannot be gotten from anyone else? It might be your price, your quality or your innovative menu. Then look for potential partners with unique offerings of their own. Together, your promotion will stand out and get attention.

Go beyond “What’s in it for me?” Once you know what you have to offer another business, remind yourself what your objectives are. Before you call or go meet with any prospective business ally, keep in mind that you are suggesting a marketing partnership—both parties have to get something out of the alliance. Think beyond, “What’s in it for me?” and give careful consideration to how this partnership will benefit the other business as well.

Search outside the box. Be creative in the businesses you approach. Try florists, dress shops, jewelers, tanning salons, photographers, hair salons or even car washes. Take a closer look at professionals such as realtors, website designers, publicists or printers, and think about direct mail companies, signage companies, bakeries, taxi services and car dealers. You could even forge a cross-promotion with a local newspaper, magazine, radio show or TV show. You never know who will be a good partner.

Start with who you know. With a pizzeria, this is a little easier because everyone loves pizza! You can swap ads on your websites, flyers, etc. and even exchange stacks of business cards. The best businesses to approach are those that you have some affiliation with, whether it be through the chamber of commerce, church or a civic club, such as the Rotary Club or Exchange Club.

Present a great offer. What type of offers should you present to other businesses? Try donating gift certificates to local florists and realtors to use as a value-
added gift for some of their best clients, and ask for an equal set of gift certificates for their businesses in return. Try to work with local radio and TV stations to barter advertising space as well as prizes.

Ask about a raffle box. We’ve all seen the boxes offering a prize or discount for filling out an entry form or dropping your business card. This is a great tactic for gathering names of prospective customers because you’ll know that they’re interested in your pizzeria if you make the prize something such as a free pizza party. To maximize the power of the enter-to-win boxes, make sure there’s something in it that will encourage your partner’s clients to participate as well (i.e., a company pizza party at the end of the month).

Throw a party. Who doesn’t enjoy a party? When you’re launching a new menu or introducing a new appetizer line at your pizzeria, invite people in the community who have highly visible jobs to come in and try the menu. Target the opinion leaders in your community (PTA presidents, health club managers and bartenders) and ask them to bring a guest. When they’re at the party, you’ll have another opportunity to gather business cards and network.

Finally, remember to look ahead at what you envision the final result to be. Having a goal will help propel you toward success.

Liz Barrett is PMQ'seditor at large.