is when two or more companies pool their resources together to jointly promote a product or service.
It can be done between small local businesses (like our case study below), or on a bigger scale like the partnership between Starbucks and Barnes & Nobles.
Reciprocal Marketing is a great way to build relationships, expand your brand awareness, and tap into a wider customer base. It doesn’t have to be a big expensive campaign; it can be a simple competition or a promotion you run jointly.
To help you get started, and to ensure you get the most out of your alliance, follow these guidelines.
- Identify potential alliances: Who is local and has the same target market?
Your new alliance needs to be a business that has similar values, ethos and vision as you. Both parties need to be able to add value to each other’s business and each other’s client base.
Who in your local area has the same target market and the same catchment area?
Can you package your products or services together to offer a more holistic package? Tap into each other’s circles of influence and customers who are non-competing and gain potential new customers.
- Clarify expectations: What’s in it for me?
We all ask ourselves this – it’s human nature. So of course your potential alliance is naturally going to be asking themselves the same question – what’s in it for them to partner with you?
Discuss the expectations of the alliance, what results are sought and what both parties will do to grow the alliance e.g. x number of new leads which you and your team can convert to sales.
- Develop a strategy: What steps suit you both?
Have an agreed strategy in place on how you plan to develop the alliance e.g. you may agree to display each other’s promotional collateral at each other’s site as the first step of developing the alliance and then take the relationship to a higher level at a later stage.
Further possibilities may include running a joint competition and market the competition to each other other’s database. Never ever provide your database to other parties as your database is your asset – your future clients who have already expressed an interest in your service/product and who represent future sales.
You may agree to develop a flyer together with a clear call to action, which can be sent to your respective databases. Ensure you can track the results e.g. include the lead source on your enquiry forms (both online and offline). You need to ensure that you are getting a return on investment i.e. covering your costs for the printing, distribution, cost of offer and so forth.
- Work on the relationship: What do you want to achieve next?
Once the relationship is established, nurture it! Meet regularly to discuss your relationship, brief your alliance on any changes within your businesses – you may even want to provide simple briefing sheets for their staff to refer to if needed. By meeting at regular intervals you will have the opportunity to discuss further opportunities and take the relationship and results to a new level – two business heads are better than one!
What do a skydiving centre and a restaurant have in common?
Sails Restaurant and Function Centre located on Suttons Beach, Redcliffe shares its glorious beachfront with a nearby skydiving centre. Picture having lunch on the beachfront whilst watching the skydivers land on the beach right in front of you!
Given that both businesses are non-competitive and have a similar target market we pooled resources and developed a Father’s Day competition providing a luncheon and sky diving experience. Entries had to be forwarded to the relevant publication with the reason why a Dad should win the competition. We approached a number of local publications who all ran the competition (including a front cover on one publication), which provided free media exposure for both parties!
Similarly, on Mother’s Day we approached a local childcare service to do face painting during the restaurant’s Mother Day’s lunch and the nearby spa centre for a half price pampering voucher as a giveaway. The Mother’s Day luncheon flyer, which featured both alliances, was distributed throughout the local area including both alliances’ outlets.
Sails Restaurant added value to their Mother’s Day luncheon and both the childcare service and the spa received exposure and leads to their specific target markets – local Mums with children!
Need a little extra help building your business alliances? Contact us for a chat.
Author: Veronica Costas
Coming from a multicultural background, Veronica has lived in Brazil, Spain, and Singapore, and has now been in Australia for five years. Regardless of language and geographic location, her passion for reading and writing has remained constant, and she manages to write expertly about a wide range of subjects.