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  Management Feature

Win-Win with Cross Promotions

Posted 12/11/2008
By Thom Tschetter

Cross promotions are an underused but highly effective way to get your shop's name out there.

Win-Win with Cross PromotionsThe terms "marketing" and "advertising" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Advertising is a paid placement in radio, TV, print, online or other media that is designed solely to generate leads. Advertising is only one element of marketing, and advertising in and of itself does not necessarily increase sales. Marketing includes advertising, but it also includes strategy development, building a company culture, defining an image and developing product knowledge and sales procedures that result in increased sales.

Businesses often offer products or services that are so similar that potential customers have a difficult time differentiating between them. In these cases, successful businesses choose to differentiate themselves with effective marketing by providing superior service and follow-up to deliver an experience that "wows" customers and keeps them coming back for more.

Cross promotions are marketing strategies that use unique, highly targeted advertising tactics that extend your reach beyond your existing customer base and literally tap into other businesses' customers.

Cross promoting is more than two businesses giving out coupons for each other to prompt the next customer to visit. Win-win cross promoting is a jointly
beneficial strategy between two or more businesses with similar target customers.

For example, a video game store and a pizza parlor decide they can mutually benefit by sharing customers. The video game store could provide the pizza parlor with pizza boxes with its own advertising on the boxes. This type of cross promotion is effective because it extends the awareness of the video game store to an expanded customer base, and both businesses derive a clear benefit. The video game store owner can buy the pizza boxes or advertising on the pizza boxes - saving the pizza store owner the cost of buying the boxes, while getting the name of the video game store into the homes of the pizza parlor's customers.

When developing a win-win cross promotion program, it is critical to identify a company that has a customer base that fits your target market with respect to such things as age, income and gender. But make sure it is not a competitor, selling the same or alternative product or service. For example, if you are the owner of a beauty salon that targets wealthy women, a cross promotion program with a used furniture store would probably not be very effective. However, a cross promotion program between the beauty shop and a day spa offers a great chance for success - provided the day spa doesn't also offer hair styling services.

Here are two more examples of win-win cross promotions that could work well for an automotive center:

1. If there is a dry cleaning business near your shop, consider providing it with hangers. Most dry cleaners just use the hangers that say "I Love My Dry Cleaner" on the hangers' paper covers. Consider offering to cover all or a portion of the cost of their hangers if you can put your ad on one side of the hanger and their logo on the other side. They get free or lower-cost hangers with their logo, and you get your name in hundreds of closets in your neighborhood.

2. Cash in on specialty coffee shops and espresso stands. Just like a pizza parlor goes through hundreds of pizza boxes, coffee shops and espresso stands go through hundreds of paper cups every week. Most of the independently owned coffee stands do not use custom-printed paper cups because of the added cost. For this promotion, you'll have a greater likelihood of setting up a cross promotion with an independent because they most likely will be using generic paper cups from Costco or the local restaurant supply house.

Here's a sample script for presenting your offer to a potential win-win cross promotion partner. For this example, I've chosen the coffee shop, but you can change the words to fit almost any situation.

"Mr. Coffee Shop Owner, I own ABC Automotive just around the corner, and I have an idea I think could be beneficial to both of our companies. I think one of your significant expenses each month is the cost of the paper cups you that an accurate statement? I also noticed that your cups don't have your company logo on them, either, and I'm sure that would add quite a bit to the cost if you did. However, do you think it would be advantageous for you if your logo were on the cups just like the big boys like Starbucks? Mr. Coffee Shop Owner, here is my proposal to you: I'm willing to supply you with your paper cups with your logo prominently printed on the front of the cup if you'll allow me to print my company information on the back of the cup. This is a win-win ... you get custom cups with your logo, and I get my name in the hands of more people, too. What do you think? Can you see any reason why this wouldn't work out for both of us?

Notice, the coffee shop gets top billing on the front of the cup and you must be willing to accept being on the back of the cup. This is just salesmanship ... is there really a front and back of a paper cup?

With promotions like these, be creative with your offer. For example, you could offer to pay for the printed cups, boxes or hangers, or offer to share the cost in some fashion. You might even make a deal for free coffees, pizzas or dry cleaning in return. There are many ways to slice this one up. Be creative, and always remember that the best cross promotions provide benefits to all companies involved. Emphasize what's in it for them ... if they can see the benefit for them, you'll likely get the deal.

I believe win-win cross promotions are one of the most affordable and most effective ways to get new customers into your business. However, all advertising is a waste of money unless it's backed by superior customer service and follow-up. Getting to know your customers must be one of the cornerstones of your company culture. The goal is for each customer experience to be personal and memorable so that a good word gets spread by word-of-mouth. Customer recommendations are the most cost-effective advertising there is, and referrals are the highest order of cross promotion.

If you want more detailed information on cross promotions, send an e-mail to me at thom@winwinpromos. com with the words "Win-win promos" in the subject line. I think those of you who effectively implement win-win cross promotions into your advertising strategy will really stretch your ad dollars and get better results.

Editor's Note: This article concludes the final installment of management articles for 2008 brought to you by the Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. AMI's knowledgeable instructors will be back again in 2009 to bring you new and informative topics that can help you run your business more successfully.

Thom Tschetter

Thom Tschetter is an acclaimed speaker, management trainer, radio personality and AMI instructor. He owned a chain of 10 automotive centers in Washington state for more than 25 years, and in 1996 his business was honored as the No. 1 small business in the state and was ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Tschetter began his speaking career in 1992. He is currently director of marketing for Certified Transmission of Omaha, Neb., and continues to help members of our industry. You can contact him at (480) 773-3131 or by sending an e-mail to


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