Cross-Promotion Ideas For Small Businesses

In the small business world, the cliche "two heads are better than one" plays out via cross-promotion. This effective marketing strategy encourages multiple organizations to work together to achieve the common goals of brand awareness and customer engagement. Cross-promotion can take many forms, but its benefits — and range of available applications — cannot be denied.

Benefits of Cross-Promotion Marketing for Your Small Business

From budget to audience size, benefits abound for cross-promotion. This approach is particularly valuable for small businesses with limited resources.

Larger Audiences

A mutually-beneficial strategy, cross-promotion allows multiple businesses to reap the rewards of an expanded audience. When organizations join forces, they can reach far more consumers together than they possibly could on their own.

Versatile Marketing Approaches

Cross-promotion allows businesses to use a variety of top marketing methods. These include everything from in-person brand activations to social media. Properly integrated, these various marketing efforts can produce a high volume of enthusiastic customers who will be more likely to convert — not only during the promotion but also in the future.

Improved Consumer Perception

In addition to delivering an expanded audience, cross-promotion builds goodwill among consumers. While many already make an effort to aid small businesses, they're even more likely to do so when they see organizations actively supporting one another.

Financial Benefits

Cross-promotion also makes it possible to stretch a limited marketing budget. With branded events, for example, hosts can divide costs and prep work to reduce financial burdens and maximize profits. The financial benefits may extend to social media, especially if using paid advertising campaigns. Few marketing techniques are nearly as effective for stretching both budgets and audience reach.

How to Cross-Promote Your Business Through Local Partnerships

Nearly any type of organization can work with others to promote key products or services via events or social networks. Often, large corporations join forces with smaller companies to deliver greater appeal at the local level. Many of the most effective campaigns, however, involve multiple small businesses. These organizations may share similar marketing roadblocks and have an equal potential to benefit from local partnerships.

Select Complementary, Non-Competing Businesses

The best cross-promotion ideas for small businesses will provide little benefit if you partner with the wrong company. The other business should not be a direct competitor, but it will ideally share your target audience.

Some pairings make more sense than others. Midwest coffee chain Caribou Coffee, for example, aced the concept of cross-promotion with a partnership involving apparel company Love Your Melon. To enhance the local promotion, a portion of the proceeds from the campaign benefited the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.

When in doubt, opt for a business that shares your company culture but won't directly compete for the same group of customers.

Get Involved With Small Business Saturday

Black Friday may be all about department store shopping, but on Small Business Saturday, customers make an effort to support organizations that might otherwise be overlooked. In an effort to get consumers to visit as many locations as possible, businesses within a small geographic region often band together to throw special events.

From walking tours to giveaways, a variety of opportunities can make Small Business Saturday and similar occasions more memorable for participants. In New York, for example, Yorkville Buy Local showcases local businesses via walking tours, while merchants associations and cultural organizations partner to provide shoppers with free bags for carrying their purchases.

Small Business Saturday represents one of many excellent events for improving business-to-business outreach. Take advantage of these unique occasions, which provide a variety of exciting in-person and digital marketing opportunities.

Cross-Promotion Ideas For Your Small Business

While any effort to join forces with other businesses can benefit your campaign, you'll see an even better ROI if you present new takes on cross-promotion. When possible, seek opportunities for promoting your business that integrate different types of interaction, including in-person, print, and digital marketing.

On the hunt for fresh concepts for local business cross-promotion? The following marketing ideas could impress a variety of potential customers:

  • Take advantage of both companies' mailing lists to send out flyers or postcards featuring QR codes. This tactic harnesses the benefits of print marketing while also attracting new followers. The QR code can lead to many forms of content, such as entertaining videos, digital coupons, or product giveaways.
  • Host a sampling event that incorporates both businesses. Such events grant attendees the exciting opportunity to try many types of products at once. This works particularly well for complementary products. For example, a brewery might host an event with a local food truck company. If you prefer to keep things virtual, allow potential customers to simultaneously sign up for free samples. These can be sent in exchange for contact information. Following the event, encourage customers to continue interacting with both brands and leave reviews through Google My Business or other online resources.
  • Join forces to sponsor or host a charitable event. From 5k races to food drives, options abound for giving back to the community. Customers appreciate businesses that work together, but they are even more enthusiastic when companies use their resources to support those in need. Furthermore, by teaming up with another company, you may be able to reduce some of the administrative costs or other expenses that sometimes accompany charitable endeavors.
  • Develop a clever hashtag. Whether you plan a sampling event, a fundraiser, or some other special occasion, you and your business co-host can get the word out with help from a unique hashtag. Encourage followers to use this to highlight photos from the event. The hashtag could also signal giveaways or other contests.
  • Use shoppable tags on social media to highlight products from both companies. This will streamline the purchasing process and encourage quick conversions for all businesses involved in your cross-promotional campaign. Customers love the ease with which they can discover and access interesting products with these tags.

Tools for Cross-Promoting Your Small Business

A wide variety of digital tools allow you to link your social media strategy to your cross-promotional efforts. Each social networking site holds unique advantages. Not every platform will be suited to every type of campaign, so it's important to work closely with the other businesses involved to determine what will provide the greatest benefit for everyone. As you seek out the perfect online platform, keep the following options in mind:

Facebook

Many small business leaders regard Facebook as their go-to resource for event marketing. The platform is well-suited to cross-promotional efforts, as multiple pages can manage dedicated event pages as co-hosts. Additionally, businesses often highlight one another through dedicated shoutout posts or by tagging other commercial pages in photos and videos. Facebook is also ideal for linking to outside content such as guest blog posts.

Instagram

While Facebook holds clear value for cross-promotional campaigns, Instagram is arguably the most effective social media platform for this specific type of marketing.

As with Facebook, posts on Instagram can tag influencers or other users involved in your campaign, thereby alerting followers to complementary pages—and vice versa. Vibrant images and entertaining videos drum up attention for in-person cross-promotional events. While this approach lacks the event page capacity of Facebook, it still provides a powerful visual reminder for top campaigns.

Standard Instagram posts can be helpful, but the platform's real cross-promotional value lies in its Stories feature. Instagram Stories give followers an inside look at your brand's top offerings. This tool documents marketing events and encourages last-minute participation.

As with other types of Instagram posts, it's possible to tag business pages or individual followers in Stories. These can also be used to call attention to important event-oriented posts that might otherwise be neglected.

Other Options

Facebook and Instagram may currently dominate the social media landscape, but they are by no means the only networks that businesses can rely on for cross-promotional marketing efforts. Expand your reach with these additional options:

  • Snapchat: Between specialized filters and video clips from co-hosted events, Snapchat offers many of the benefits of Instagram Stories while allowing you to target a different audience.
  • TikTok: The hottest new video-sharing app, TikTok can help you gain an edge with members of Gen Z. Join up with another business to host a dance challenge or submit a silly video clip highlighting the best of both brands.
  • Pinterest: This might not seem like a go-to source for cross-promotion, but unique features such as group boards can provide valuable branding opportunities for multiple businesses.

No matter which social media sites or other digital options you use for cross-promotional marketing, you can expect to expand your audience well beyond your typical niche. This is your opportunity to step up brand awareness and consumer engagement, all while building valuable relationships with the most influential businesses in your community.

Don't forget to track metrics to ensure that your campaign delivers anticipated results. This can be accomplished with UTM codes or specific call tracking numbers attached to online and offline campaigns. Equipped with detailed insights, you can tweak your campaign as necessary to deliver the best possible ROI.