Team of employees standing around a long table going over strategy documents.
From joint social media campaigns to cross-promotional displays, there are various fun and creative ways that businesses can collaborate through marketing. — Getty Images/Weekend Images Inc.

Cross-promotion is a common marketing strategy consisting of mutual collaboration between two or more companies. Each company combines forces to promote the others’ products and services for a mutually beneficial relationship. This powerful marketing tool can increase brand awareness and product sales by exposing companies to various audiences.

Here’s why cross-promotion is an effective tool and how to develop a cross-promotion strategy.

Cross-promotion strategies to consider

There is no predefined strategy for cross-promotion. The final strategy will depend on the products, the companies involved, and the goals of the cross-promotion campaign. Here are a few cross-promotion strategies to try:

Social media campaigns

A cross-promotion social media campaign is an effective marketing strategy that increases interaction between two separate customer bases through media like videos and photos. For example, two businesses can utilize cross-promotion by sharing a collaborative post on each of their social media platforms to increase viewership.

Joint advertising investment

The costs of advertising can be steep, but your business can share these costs by partnering with another company. Examples such as a billboard or commercial can promote products from different companies through a cross-promotional strategy.

Customer promotions

Companies within the same industry can partner to create loyalty programs or customer rewards programs to drive industry sales. A common example of this cross-promotion strategy is when two or more restaurants offer customers a point reward program when visiting a partnering location. Another option is to partner with another company to develop a new product, which can split the costs of development and marketing while promoting each brand.

Public events

A cross-promotion event involving multiple companies can be an effective way to demonstrate products or experiences. The key to planning a successful public event for a cross-promotion is identifying the demographic your campaign seeks to influence. For example, a gaming company may consider hosting an e-sports tournament instead of a marathon.

Cross-promotional displays

The goal of a cross-promotional display is to expose a product to a new customer base. An effective cross-promotional display will sell an experience that features multiple products. For example, a store end cap might display the common ingredients for a backyard barbecue, including hot dog buns, hot dogs, and soda from separate companies.

[Read More: Need a Subscriber Boost? How to Promote Your Company Newsletter and Grow Readership]

A cross-promotion event involving multiple companies can be an effective way to demonstrate products or experiences.

Tips for partnering with another company to cross-promote

Ensure you share the same values

Just like a business partnership, a partnership between companies with different values might be confusing for consumers. For example, if a sustainable brand offering high-quality products partnered with a fast fashion company, customers might feel confused or even betrayed. The goal of cross-promotion should be to strengthen brand identity — not diminish it.

Identify your goals

The companies in a cross-promotion partnership need to be on the same page with clearly defined, and common, goals. Both parties should be more open and transparent with the key performance indicators (KPIs) they currently track, as well as which ones they would like to monitor during the campaign. Furthermore, it may be beneficial to outline how and when the partnership will end so that if either party doesn’t receive the expected results, the agreement can end mutually and on good terms.

Define your target audience

One of the benefits of cross-promotion is increasing brand awareness in a new or different consumer base. Identify which audience your partner company can influence. For example, if your goal is to increase product awareness in a particular demographic, choose a company partner that has already penetrated that demographic.

Choose a partner company with complementary skills

The perfect cross-promotion partner will cover some of your company’s marketing weaknesses. For example, if your company struggles with social media, consider partnering with a company that has a strong social media presence. Highlight your own company’s marketing strengths when pitching a cross-promotion to a potential partner so you can develop a mutually beneficial partnership.

Define each partner’s responsibilities

Once you’ve found an optimal cross-promotional partner, clearly define each partner’s roles and responsibilities in the marketing campaign. A formal written partnership agreement will remove confusion while ensuring you don’t waste any resources.

[Read more: 5 Small Business Owners on the Power of Local Partnerships]

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