This Cross-Promotion Method Could
Revolutionize Your Business

Mike Harvey
The Startup
Published in
7 min readJul 23, 2020

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There are plenty of ways to successfully promote your business, but one of the simplest and most cost-effective is to engage in cross-promotion with other entities who have audiences that are a) relevant to your business, and b) as large, or larger, than yours.

What is Cross Promotion?

Cross promotion is simply an agreement by two companies to promote one another. Sometimes, in the case of in-brand promotion, it happens when two different products from the same company promote each other. We see examples of cross promotion all the time. Simply linking to another’s website that links back to your own (how very meta) can be considered a form of cross promoting. Then there are deeper promotional relationships which may involve a joint offering or giveaway. For example, AppSumo.com once gave away ten free Dropbox Pro for Life accounts and got 50,000 email sign-ups from entrants.

Cross promotion explainer

Cross promotion between companies may also include:

In today’s oversaturated digital landscape, winning a greater share of people’s attention can be time consuming and costly. It can also be fast and free with a form of cross-promotion that’s both extremely easy and surprisingly not more widespread: social media.

Why You Should be Using Social Media for Cross-Promotion

With no need to design an ad, write a press release, or negotiate a joint sales offering, companies can instantly make their partners’ audience their own just by asking. It works like this: Company A pings Company B saying: “Hey there. We’ve given you a positive mention on our social accounts/webpages and would appreciate reciprocity.” Company B reciprocates, and just like that, both are suddenly visible to each other’s’ audience with the click of a button.

Social media marketing is really just “Business 101”. Unfortunately, most companies still don’t do it. At CMHWorks it’s rare that I get a request to cross-promote and being a managed software services shop that relies on several vendors to deliver robust solutions, the opportunities to leverage the strength of partner features and functions is almost endless.

It’s shocking considering how easy and effective it is. Most companies, when asked, happily agree. CMHWorks has been so satisfied with the results of this type of cross-promotion, it has decided to make it standard business practice at the company.

Anytime you partner with someone, consider proposing cross-promotion at the outset. Offering social cross-promotion to potential buyers can increase your product or service’s appeal. You could even make it a term of the sale if you are bent on having the company in question promote you. If either you or your target partner are traded publicly, you’ll want to check FTC guidelines to see if a disclosure is required in cross-promotion scenarios where value is exchanged.

There are over 100 social networks active today. You can choose which to use for cross-promotion depending on where your target audience congregates. LinkedIn is great for B2B, Facebook isn’t bad, and Twitter is noisy, but all of them can lead to great results for your business. If keeping track of all of your cross-promotional activity gets tough, there are tools such as Madneto, which bills itself as the world’s first cross-promotion platform.

Now, let’s take a more detailed look at how to ply this low-bandwidth, pro bono, apparently underleveraged means to rapidly expand a business’s online audience and increase sales.

If You Can’t Beat Competitors, Join Partners

Countless business owners have been through the experience of putting up a Twitter or Facebook account and waiting for likes, shares, follows, and retweets to roll in — and waiting…and waiting. While social media channels can be excellent tools for expanding your audience, booming popularity isn’t to be had by simply clicking “create account” and heading out to lunch. Chances are, there are scores of other companies vying for the same audience, on the same platforms.

How do you stand out? One way is to weave yourself into the fabric of other accounts with their own established audiences by co-promoting with partners, vendors, customers, employees — anyone who associates with your business.

Growing a social following can take a long time if you wait for organic avenues like search and word of mouth to funnel followers to you, one at a time. Luckily, it’s possible to grow your sphere of influence just by inserting yourself into another account, instantly making its audience your own.

You can begin by looking over your social accounts and webpages. Who have you followed, liked, tweeted about, mentioned on your Facebook timeline, or wrote about on your website? Simply drop them a friendly line letting them know you’ve given them a nod and ask if they’ll do the same for your company! If they post articles, press releases, blog posts or other content, share it on your feed and comment on it if your company helps provide any value to is written.

How Hard is This?

CMHWorks wrote a couple of brief posts about two software brands it relies on for application testing — Assertible and Cyprus.io — on its website. We then reached out to both to let them know we were promoting them and asked if they’d reciprocate. They agreed!

Social media for cross promotion

Suddenly, the CMH brand was in front of over 12,000 combined Twitter followers for these vendors, along with their audiences on Facebook and LinkedIn. How long would it have taken and how much would it have cost to draw 12,000 new pairs of eyeballs to the CMH Twitter page?

It costs nothing to spend a couple of minutes on each social platform once a week promoting partners, vendors, etc., and then asking them to return the favor. For startups or smaller companies with limited marketing budgets, it’s a no-brainer.

Making Friends in High-Traffic Places

This type of cross promotion is an easy sell between partners operating in the same verticals and not directly competing. It can bear fruit quickly when you are the pen to a company’s paper, and their followers have a clear need for what you offer. It also has the potential to build bridges to companies — and potential customers — on foreign terrain. Is there an audience you’d like to be reaching but are not? Cross-promoting with someone who already has their attention is a great way to introduce yourself. In fact, if you concoct an ingenious way to cross-promote with a direct competitor to your own benefit, why not give it a go?

Effective cross-promotion takes a little strategy, but it’s not complicated. You can begin with the audience you want to target and work backwards to social influencers that already have their attention. Tools like BuzzSumo help users identify who and what a particular audience loves, which you can use to find brands your target audience follows. You could then choose to partner with or buy from them, making cross promoting a term of the purchase in order to get in front of said audience. A word of caution: always make sure to thoroughly check out a company’s reputation before promoting them, since any image problems they have could rub off on you.

Cross promotion can turn what might have been a one-off transaction with a company into an enduring partnership. Partners may discover ways to combine their offers to create surplus value for customers. It might lead to all sorts of other mutually beneficial endeavors like:

  • Referral programs
  • Bundling
  • Joint discounts
  • Co-hosted webinars
  • Co-authored eBooks, etc.

Do not forget that the audience you’re going after is probably not online to see promotions. They want accurate and useful information — and perhaps a bit of entertainment. Cross-promoting can pack a lot of social proof when executed with aplomb. Give your messages a human touch. Say something specific about your personal experience with a product or service. It shouldn’t look like a phoned-in favor to the company in question.

Multiple parties linking together on social media ultimately creates an interwoven community of common interest. It will eventually hit critical mass and grow by itself with you and your social accounts as intrinsic elements. It makes you visible to social influencers who may endorse you to throngs of followers, leading to a boom in business without a penny spent on marketing.

Grow your audience with cross promotion

Easy Street to Eyeballs

Whether you’re a struggling small business with no marketing staff or budget, or an established enterprise, social cross-promotion can give you instant exposure to a larger audience. Real people endorsing you in their own words to followers who already trust them have greater power to convert them than advertisements they’ve grown to dislike and ignore. Compared to waiting for 10,000 pairs of eyes to drift over to your own account, proactively placing yourself in front of them seems like a no-brainer. For very minimal effort and virtually zero cost, practically anyone can begin cross-promoting on social media today.

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Mike Harvey
The Startup

Mike is the founder of CMH Works, LLC and has been an IT Executive, Chief Architect and Web Developer for over 25 years