March 12, 2016 By Suzanne Robertson

Cross promotions thrive in America.

Fast food companies are masters at joining forces with film studios to help advertise family friendly movies. (Happy Meal toys anyone?) Visa does it right in television ads promoting merchants that accept the card as preferred payment.

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But these are giant companies. Can cross promotions work to increase sales and save marketing dollars for your small business? Yes!

It’s important that you find a natural fit with the business you are cross promoting with – If you own a preschool, you probably don’t want to work with a local sports bar. Take a look at your customer demographic and find similar businesses that aren’t your competitors. For example, a dry cleaner might pair with a hair salon. A healthy snack company could hook up with a yoga studio. Take some time to identify promotional partners and approach them with energy and ideas!

Cross Promotion Ideas

Here are suggestions and examples to spark your creative ideas! If your small business has held a successful cross-promotion, please share details in the comments.

  • Free Branded Gifts - Work with a promotional partner to come up with branded merchandise. A dentist office could offer branded water bottles to give to members of a Mommy and Me gym. The gym could offer branded prize-box toys for the dental practice. Although it’s not free to produce branded products, the ROI can be big.
  • Co-Sponsor - There are lots of opportunities in every community to sponsor an event, team, school activity or more. Join with another small business to support a cause or event that attracts your customers. For example, a yogurt shop and relator could provide support for a community fundraiser or a school carnival.
  • Share Advertising - Share inexpensive ads in local publications. Make sure logo and contact information are equally featured. This also helps cut down your advertising budget.
  • Receipts – A receipt is something that every customer receives. You can add additional printing to the bottom of the receipt for pennies. Have your partner provide a coupon or special offer to be placed on the bottom of the receipt.
  • Flyers in Shopping Bags –Print up flyers and give them to your partner to distribute at check out.
  • Price Discounts – Offer a reduced price if customers buy products from you and your promotional partner.
  • Social Media Sharing – Comment on your partner’s Facebook page, retweet relevant information on Twitter, tag a photo on Instagram. Coordinate with your partner so you’re getting the most out of social media activities.
  • Trade Show Event Sharing – Cut down costs and increase your company exposure by sharing a booth at expos or trade events.
  • Samples – Set up a small display featuring your products in a partner’s store or go to the location yourself to pass out samples. A local bakery could visit a nail shop and offer fresh cookies to patrons waiting for polish to dry.
  • Mailing Collaboration – Generally, folks frown upon mailing lists that are traded. Instead of swapping lists, create a co-branded newsletter tying together your two small businesses in an organic way.
  • Display Print Collateral – One of the easiest ways to cross-promote is to trade printed material. This could include flyers, business cards, calendars, etc.
  • Run a Contest Together – Offer services or products as prizes from each small business.
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