Disney and McDonald’s mastered the art of business collaboration and cross promotion for more than a decade. When a new major animated film was slated for release by Disney, consumers knew to anticipate cross promotional ads, highlighting Happy Meal toy tie-ins with the film. The relationship was clearly a win-win for both organizations because of their equal status as iconic American companies, each with built in public good will. The same principles apply for small businesses seeking to grow.
Why Cross Promote?
There are a variety of reasons why two organizations may want to collaborate. In the Disney and McDonald’s venture they shared a core audience for a specific product each offered. Tots – and their parents – love Happy Meals featuring toy versions of their new favorite characters. The excitement generated from pre-opening cross promotion publicity at McDonald’s helped to ensure plenty of anxious ticket buyers on opening weekend and assisted in sustaining repeat moviegoers.
Before You Jump in…
When seeking businesses to collaborate with, it is important to do your homework regarding the health and reputation of the organization before hitching your credibility with theirs. What may appear on paper as a good business alliance can quickly turn into a public relations nightmare if you do not follow through on this critical step.
Using Events as Cross Promotion
Sponsoring charity events is also an effective collaboration tool with other business. By donating staff, services or products to a popular fundraising event, a business can generate goodwill in the community, by gaining the reputation as a good corporate citizen. In many ways the benefits are even better for small businesses, helping local – less prominent – charities. Although the audience is smaller, they are often very committed, will take note and really want to do business with those who support their favorite charity.
In addition, the contacts and resources gained by planning and working with the event team can prove highly profitable in the long run. Event planners work with organizations across industries. If your business goes above and beyond when working with the charity and event planning team, the rewards can be immeasurable. Simply following-up by snail mail with a “enjoyed working with you” type letter, plus your marketing materials can be what the doctor ordered when they hear of a need from their colleague seeking just the product or service you offer. They feel good about helping your company out after all your hard work before, and you feel very happy all the way to the bank.
Finally when choosing businesses to collaborate with, think outside the box. Why would a local toy store want a 10% off coupon inserted in the envelope when monthly statements are sent from a local long term care insurance agent each October? Because the toy store owner knows that grandparents buy an estimated 25% of all toys, seniors love coupons and they are the most affluent consumers.
So when looking for businesses to collaborate with, by all means look for the obvious fit. But also do just a little bit of homework, identify a customer base that overlaps with that of a strategic partner yet is often overlooked by your competitors.