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Five Approaches to Collaborative Marketing You Can Use Right Away

Collaborative marketing?? What is that?

Simply put, it’s teaming up with another business to share resources to generate leads and/or brand exposure.

More technically,

Collaborative Marketing is the process of aligning your company’s interests, resources, and marketing muscle with other like-minded companies to accomplish much more than you might be able to do on your own. (Forbes.com)

Collaborative marketing offers an awesome opportunity to both leverage another business’s following and make a business friend in the process. Everything’s easier when you have a business friend to talk to, right?

So how do you do it?

Before we can get into the where and how, we need to answer the question:

Who should you collaborate with?

Deciding who to collaborate with can be as easy as asking “Who do I like?” while looking around a local networking event or browsing your Twitter feed. However, we recommend being more strategic and considering a business who fits one of the following criteria:

  • Similar Target Market

    Target MarketThe best match for someone to collaborate with is someone who has your same target market. If you are a nail salon that specializes in all-natural manicures and pedicures, a natural fit might be a masseuse who enjoys working with earth-conscious women.

    Similarly, a co-working space catering to freelancers and entrepreneurs might benefit from teaming up with a local coffee company.

  • Complementary Goods or Services

    SimilarIf you’re not sure if your two target markets overlap (or if either of you don’t have it well defined), consider whether your goods or services are complementary.

    For instance, a personal trainer can benefit from teaming up with an acupuncturist. Similarly, a business coach can team up with payroll provider or bookkeeper.

  • Similar Location

    Similar LocationWho’s your next door neighbor? Do you like them? Team up! Shoppers and/or visitors to your neighborhood will likely want to know more about what’s available locally.

Now that we’ve established who to collaborate with, let’s explore how to collaborate.

5 Ways to Collaborate

When you and a like-minded business collaborate, you both agree to promote what you’re collaborating on. This gives you the opportunity to reach that business’s audience as well as your own — an audience you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to reach otherwise.

Here are five ways that you can collaborate right away.

  1. Collaborate on a Special

    A local movie theater and the restaurant next door might collaborate on a special — bring in your ticket stub and get a discount on a drink. If the movie theater has a sign advertising this promotion, it’s suggesting to all its patrons that the restaurant next door is the place to go after the movie. In exchange, the restaurant is offering a bit of a discount — super affordable advertising.

    Another example would be for two businesses with complementary services to offer an informational workshop. Years ago, we teamed up with a merchant services provider to offer a workshop on e-commerce websites. We both met new local business owners who might need a merchant services account and/or a website while promoting ourselves as experts in our fields. Attendees had the benefit of learning step by step how they might create an e-commerce business. A win/win for everyone!

  2. Co-host an Event

    The Source Chiropractic here in Oakland is fabulous at this. They have monthly events where they feature local restaurants (similar location), personal trainers and masseuses (complementary goods and services).

    If you’re considering hosting an event that will feature other businesses, consider putting out some mutually branded marketing — a postcard and/or email campaign that both (or all) businesses can use to promote the event. This makes it easy for the businesses involved to promote the event to their audiences.

    ThumbsupAnd don’t forget Facebook! Creating a Facebook event through your business’s Facebook page is a great way for the business owners to invite their friends (though you can’t personally invite all the people who like your business Facebook page).

  3. Showcase Another Business

    If you have a blog, newsletter or podcast, you can use it to interview another business owner or showcase another business’s products. Your fellow business owner will be inclined to share the feature with their audience — who doesn’t love to promote their own five minutes of stardom?

    If you have a physical storefront, consider having a complementary business join you in your shop for an afternoon (“Join us on Wednesday for facials and tea featuring our neighbors Maria’s Facials and Local Cafe”). Perhaps less formal than co-hosting an event, this is an opportunity to casually collaborate and promote the collaboration to both of your followings.

  4. Set Up a Referral Partnership

    Offer a commission or free services when your partner gives you a referral. Alternatively, you both can agree to share referrals with each other. Word to the wise: make sure you’re giving as you’re receiving and don’t forget to thank your referral partner each and every time.

  5. Shout outShout Out on Social Media

    One super easy way to collaborate is simply to share each others’ posts or shout out to each other on social media. We’re all in this together!

Do you market collaboratively in any other ways?

Leave a comment and let us know!

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About the Author: Jen

Known to some as "Jen of Jenfest", Jen comes from a long line of get-rich-quick-schemers. Her obsession with experience, marketing and design started at a young age; she launched her first business at the age of twelve, a crochet pop-up. She is known for her uncanny intuition, out-of-the-box ideas, dedication to strategy and appreciation for details. Jen majored in brain science and thinking (Cognitive Science and Philosophy) and thoroughly enjoyed her time at the University of California at Berkeley.

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