6 No-Cost Ways to Cross-Promote Your Startup

February 12, 2013

9:00 am

If you’re trying to promote a startup on a shoestring budget, consider cross-promotion. Find another business with a similar clientele to partner with, and promote your products or services together.

While some cross-promotion plans can cost money, there are plenty of ways to do it for free or at a very low cost. The key to effective cross-promotion is choosing the right business to work with. Your partner should market to a similar audience, and offer products or services that complement – instead of compete with – your own.

Once you’ve found the perfect partner, use these six options to advertise your startup for free:

1. Create a joint display of products that work together. If you and your partner both sell products, create web content that features both businesses’ products together, either in a prominent image, a blog post, or an advertisement that appears on both of your sites or Facebook pages.

2. Guest post on other blogs, and allow guest posts on your own. One of the best ways to promote your business blog is by guest posting. If your partner also runs a blog, exchange posts.

3. Offer discounts through a referral program. Come up with a way, together, for customers of one business to receive a discount when they become customers of the other. You could consider printing a referral discount for your partner’s business on your own receipts, for instance.

4. Offer an educational class or workshop. One excellent way to set yourself up as an expert in your field is to offer an educational class or workshop in your niche. While it may cost you time or minimal materials, it gives you a payoff in the form of loyal customers. You could partner with a like-minded business by providing the workshop together. That way, you can get the word out about your businesses, in a memorable way, in one fell swoop.

5. Pool mailing lists. Sharing mailing lists between businesses can be somewhat controversial, but if you are upfront with your subscribers, it can be mutually beneficial. Another good option is to send out joint mailings. That way, your customers won’t feel betrayed that you shared their information, but they’ll still get information about your partner’s products, while your partner’s current mailing list will get information about yours.

6. Get the word out through your employees. Finally, you can rely on word-of-mouth for cross-promotion. Have both of your businesses train employees to mention each other’s products and services in telephone transactions with customers.

Once you start cross-promoting with another business, be sure to track the return on your investment just like you would with any other marketing campaign. This article from the Small Business Administration includes tips on tracking your marketing investment and the return you get for different marketing options.

Remember, cross-promotion isn’t for every business, but it can be a truly fabulous way to promote a startup at a low cost. Once you find the right partner business, take time to work through the arrangement carefully, and you may find that you’ve landed on a long-term marketing solution that benefits you both.

Guest author Daniela Baker helps small business owners compare business credit card offers at CreditDonkey.  

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