What do I need to look for in a cross-promotions partner?

I’ve been thinking about partnering with another retailer to offer combined deals for customers. What do I need to look for in a partner and how should I structure the offers? Do such partnerships usually work?


Even the most time-poor retailer can attract more customers with less effort through the right cross-promotions.


Why? Because when you join forces with other credible people who also reach your market you can reach your customers more efficiently, credibly and memorably with the right offers and services.


The key words in the preceding sentence are “credible people”. Partnering with the wrong people can and often does destroy your brand. So be wise in choosing your promotional partner. Ensure they have a good reputation and share your values.


How do you find this out? Listen to your locals; arrange to have a coffee with your potential partner and discuss what you have in mind – then trust your gut instinct. Do not override your gut feel with logic.


Cross-promotion has the potential for a big marketing payoff because partners can successfully expand through each other’s customer base.


You can gain an inexpensive and credible introduction to more of your kind of customer more effectively than with the traditional “solo” methods of networking, advertising or public relations.


Here are some low-risk and high-opportunity ways to jump-start your first cross-promotion:


  • Print joint promotional messages on your receipts.
  • Offer a reduced price, special service or convenience if customers buy products from you and your partner.
  • Hang signs or posters promoting one another on your walls, windows or products.
  • Mention one another’s benefits when you speak at local events or are interviewed by the media.
  • Drop one another’s flyers in shopping bags (bag stuffers).
  • Pool mailing lists and send out a joint promotional postcard.
  • Share inexpensive ads in local shopping papers or a non-profit event program.
  • Give a joint interview to local media.
  • Give your partner’s product to your customers when they buy a large quantity of your product, and ask your partner to do the same.
  • Use door hangers, posters, flyers or postcards to promote special offers for each other’s products.


Here are some cross-promotion strategies that can really help your store stand out:


  • Co-produce special promotions you could not afford by yourself.
  • Have a contest, with the prizes contributed by your partners. For the next contest, roles change, and you contribute your product or service as a prize for a partner’s contest.
  • Give customers a free product or service from a participating partner when they buy something that month from all of the partners listed in an ad or on a promotional postcard.

Do such partnerships work?  They work if both partners are committed to making it work, have open communication and openly share information.  If you’re not prepared to do this – don’t do it!


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