A big challenge small businesses face is finding customers when the marketing budget is limited. The average small business only spends $4,800 annually, on marketing. If you are like most businesses, your tight marketing budget can quickly disappear with advertising, websites, search engine optimization, design, print, trade shows and special events.
How can you expand your marketing budget and still have enough money left over to run the rest of your business? Explore the idea of co-marketing partners to expand your marketing reach, create more demand and increase your brand recognition.
Grow with Co-Marketing Partners
Co-marketing, the sharing of marketing resources with another business, can significantly expand your market reach without increasing your budget. Here are three common types of co-marketing partners:
- Referral: a partnership where you and your partner refer customers to each other. These relationships are often simple agreements where each partner recommends the other’s product or services.
- Reseller: one or both partners resell the other’s products and services. These relationships tend to be more complex agreements with defined sales and service expectations, sales training and branded marketing materials.
- Co-marketing: partners share the cost of creating marketing materials, advertising and events that benefit both organizations. Co-marketing is an often overlooked marketing partnership that can be very cost effective for small businesses.
Three Types of Co-Marketing
There are three general types of co-marketing that small businesses can use to stretch their marketing budget: event marketing, co-branded advertising and thought leadership asset development.
Event Marketing is, for example, a neighboring bakery and coffee shop that host a joint customer event to increase traffic to both locations. They co-develop branded marketing materials, send emails to their respective customers, and hand out flyers for the special event. Marketing expenses are shared, and they each reach more people than they would on their own. Business-to-business companies often look to co-marketing at industry events. They can share expensive booth space or host joint customer receptions or golf outings where both organizations network and promote their products with shared prospects.
Co-branded advertising is an excellent way to increase market reach and reduce costs. Sharing real estate space on both on- and off-line advertising can bring in new leads, increase traffic and create revenue for both organizations. This can be particularly effective in business-to-consumer marketing.
Thought Leadership Assets such as webinars, white papers, and research studies are often used in business-to-business organizations where internal subject matter experts and resources from each company develop thought provoking information pertinent to their shared prospects. For example, an online tax software company and a payroll services organization can co-sponsor a white paper on the “Value in Outsourcing Financial Processes.” Both organizations use the marketing asset in joint and individual marketing campaigns to differentiate from competition and bring unique value to their mutual target prospects.
What to Look for in a Marketing Partner
There are many variations to co-marketing and choosing the right marketing partner is critical to your success. Ask the following questions before co-marketing with a partner.
- Is their business complementary to yours? Find companies that sell to the same demographics, titles, industries, etc. For example, an organization that sells custom picture frames may want to partner with an art center that teaches visual art classes since artists are potential customers for both partners.
- Do they have the same marketing objectives as you? You can build marketing synergy when both companies want the same outcome from their marketing program. However if one is interested in increasing foot traffic to their store, and the other wants to grow website traffic, it may be difficult to find a cohesive marketing campaign that makes sense for both partners.
- Does their brand align with yours? It is important that your marketing partner has a similar customer base and standards for quality and service that harmonize with your brand. If for example one partner sell inexpensive children’s party favors and the other sells rare wines, the two brands and audiences are disconnected and will result in a different marketing message.
- Can you trust them? Ultimately you have to trust your marketing partner to follow through on their time and financial commitments, share the information they agree to, and always uphold your brand promise to potential customers.
Co-marketing partner relationships can expand your market reach, create more demand and increase brand recognition. Look around and identify all of the businesses that compliment yours to see if there is a co-marketing partner in your future.
Denise Baerg, MBA, Founder and Managing Director of Autumnwood Consulting Group, brings more than 20 years of co-marketing and channel experience to businesses of all sizes. Denise helps companies increase their revenue by developing innovative marketing strategies, creating effective content for marketing programs partners to expand customer reach. Connect with Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org.