Nothing beats the credibility of another business referring your product’s or services through cross-promotions! Joining forces with other similar businesses or groups whose consumer markets are the same and whose products or services complement yours is a valuable marketing tool for your business.

For example, a day care facility and a business that offers dance lessons to children can mutually benefit by sharing customers. The dance studio could provide the day care with coupons for a free introductory dance lesson. This type of cross promotion is effective because it creates awareness of the dance studio to an expanded customer base, and both businesses can benefit. In exchange, the dance studio can offer a summer camp dance class to the day care at a reduced rate benefiting both businesses and the customer.

When developing a win-win cross promotion program, you’re linking reputations so, choose your partners carefully and make sure they are reputable with shared values and markets. Also, make sure the cross-promotion partner you choose is not a competitor, selling the same product or service. It is also a good idea to look for a partner that offers something extra such as marketing resources you lack or networks you wouldn’t normally be able to reach.

You also should be very careful when allowing your product to be given away free in a cross-promotion. While the free product being promoted may increase sales, you face the risk of being branded as a product with little or no value at all.

Cross-promotion ideas include offering a special discount or service if a customer buys a service or product from you and your cross-promotion partner. You may also try to combine mailing lists and send out a joint promotional postcard, newsletter or e-blasts. Share advertising opportunities in local papers, networking events or co-sponsor a lecture or seminar together.

Be creative and remember that the best cross promotions provide benefits to all companies involved. It is also really important to keep the customer in mind and what is important to them. Provide staff training regarding all aspects of the promotion so that customer questions and comments are addressed. The goal of any good cross-promotion should be an excellent customer experience so they will spread the word and refer your businesses to more customers!