Cross Marketing Your Business with Strategic Partners

My wife and I recently sat down with a friend of ours, Sue, to discuss some ideas she had around opening a bakery.  Specifically, a bakery that specializes in cupcakes.  She's an extremely talented baker and has decided now is the right time to pursue her passion.  We talked about a lot of different aspects of her business from bootstrapping costs and marketing strategy to cupcake recipes and logos.  One of the things that impressed me most about the discussion was her thoughts about cross-marketing her business.

What I mean by cross-marketing is the concept of teaming up with another business (often totally unrelated), to help market your business to a new customer base.  Sue had thought through this exercise well, and had some great ideas.  For instance, she was planning on approaching local hair salons because their target audience is very similar to hers.  She was planning on asking them if they'd like to offer their customers her cupcakes while at the salon.  Women visit a salon for a lot of the same reasons they would visit her cupcake bakery: to get a little time to themselves and indulge.  As a result, she thinks a salon would be a great potential partner.  I agree completely.   The bakery can offer her cupcakes while a woman waits for her hair to be done, or in-between stops in the salon.  This brings value to the salon's offering as well as allows Sue to sell her cupcakes.

Another added benefit of this partnership is exposure.  Sure, Sue can sell some cupcakes at her partner's salon, but she's also introducing her business to a new group of customers.  She's expanding her customer base to bring in more direct sales through this connection.  In return, Sue should find a way to help the salon in her business.   She can provide marketing of the salon to her customer base and maybe even an incentive for them to visit the salon.

So, that got us thinking, where else could Sue market her stuff?  More importantly, what should she look for in potential partners?  Here's some questions she should ask herself when doing this marketing.  You should be asking yourself the same questions:

1) Who is my target market?
2) What does my target market do in their day to day activity?
3) What challenges does my target market face?
4) What emotions does my brand invoke and what other things invoke that emotion?
5) What would add extra value to my brand?
6) What could I offer to potential partners?  How can we then leverage each other's businesses?

Once you answer these, be creative.  As they say, think outside the box (or your store).  It may be something as simple as splitting an ad in your favorite paper or website.  Or you may decide to offer each other's services to your customer base.  Whatever it may be, look for ways that both of you will get added value for the relationship.  A one sided partnership will never work in the long run.

(You can follow Sue and her journey at twitter.com/butterfloureggs.)

What have you done with cross marketing your business?  Tell us below!