Guest Post by Mike Cook, CMO for RevLocal

Co-marketing has gained new impetus with companies like yours wanting to succeed in local Internet marketing. Working together with other companies locally is most valuable to smaller businesses looking to expand their exposure while working with limited marketing budgets.

Why co-marketing works

By combining efforts and audiences, both companies benefit, spending less and earning more in the process. Co-marketing with other nearby businesses can be a creative way to win at the local search marketing game.

1. Reaches a new audience. Even with overlap in customer bases or readership, part of their audience will be new to you.

2. Exploits synergies between your companies, focusing on what each does will, matching strengths to weaknesses.

3. Yields a higher ROI, especially when marketing costs are split among multiple businesses.

Interlinking and expanding social media shares boosts well with search engines. Exchanging links might be the most basic form of co-marketing.



Ideas for online co-marketing with local businesses

  • Cross-promotion: your store includes a discount offer in its online newsletter from another business nearby while it does the reverse, teaming up with complementary companies, e.g., sporting goods store with fitness center, caterer with event planner, restaurant with movie theater.

  • Create co-branded ads: purchase a joint print or online ad with your local paper or local discount website like YourTownMoneysaver sharing costs, promoting your businesses together.

  • Cross-support social media: share mention on social media platforms, talk them up while they do the same for you, add comments on their pages, Tweet about them.

  • Send out a joint promo e-mail postcard blast: using combined mailing lists.

  • Arrange a contest: maybe for Valentine's Day, a florist, beauty salon, and restaurant could team for a roses-with-manicure-and-romantic-dinner prize.

  • Produce a co-lecture: at the local library, school, or non-profit. A pet shop talks about pet care while a bookstore talks about what they have for pet lovers. You can video record it and upload it to your Youtube channel for additional marketing opportunities

  • Share frequent buyer points: free gifts from each partner accrue when a certain number of overall points are gathered. Adding an online version is easy using social apps like Foursquare

  • Set up a joint sample display: for anything from bakeries to hardware stores.

  • Insert promos and discount coupons for partners in invoices: Emailing an invoice is even better then paper because it will allow you to better track results through reporting software like the free but powerful Google Analytics.

  • Share retail space: complementary businesses share the same customer traffic.

Brainstorming can lead to many more great ideas for co-marketing at the local level. Look for companies with similar goals and a similar customer base, but a complementary product or service. Of course everything you do in your campaign goes into your social media, website, blog, storefront, directly onto the sidewalk — and everybody in your business needs to be talking about it at all times with customers, friends, and family.

Best results usually arise from the most creative, not the most expensive solutions. Remember to keep scratching each other's backs once the promotion concludes successfully.


About The Author: Mike Cook is the Chief Marketing Officer for RevLocal, a national online marketing company based in Columbus, Oh, which focuses on helping businesses get found in local search results.