Cross-Promotion and Co-Branding

Wendy TownleyThe new way to party in the PR world

When planning a party, the questions you always answer first include the following: Who to invite? What should the guest list look like? A small, intimate gathering with just a few close friends? A family affair? A no-holds-barred blowout with a guest list that continues to grow?

Your budget is, of course, a factor. But so, too, is the goal of your gathering.

With public relations and building buzz for a project or event, the approach is the same. What’s your budget? Whom do you wish to reach? And what’s the message?

In many cases, the goal is to spread the word far and wide. You can begin on your own using social media and traditional public relations, which I discussed in a recent post on this very blog. But better yet, let others spread the word for you through cross-promotion and co-branding.

Both are big buzzwords in the ever-expanding fields of communication and marketing. How can messages be shared farther than ever before? The key is through partnerships and collaborations.

It may sound simple, but the most effective cross-promotion and co-branding initiatives begin with solid relationships. In the case of my first book, Nerdy Thirty, which was published last year, I determined early on to recruit others to help with promotion.

A relatively new interior design studio in Omaha, Birdhouse Interior Design, offered to sell Nerdy Thirty in their adorable retail shop. Of course customers would notice the book on Birdhouse’s beautifully designed shelves among a bevy of eclectic home furnishings. But Nerdy Thirty mentions on Birdhouse’s website, Facebook, and Twitter pages also helped book sales.

When promoting the publication of Nerdy Thirty, I, in turn, mentioned Birdhouse (and owner Jessica McKay) in a variety of status updates, tweets, and blog postings. It was a win-win situation that didn’t cost anyone a dime.

The same was true with bridal accessory designer, Princess Lasertron, also of Omaha. For me, it was a no-brainer to partner with the woman behind Princess Lasertron, Megan Hunt. Megan’s customer base is precisely who I wished to target, so I donated a copy of the book to Megan to give away on her website. Megan wrote a lovely post about Nerdy Thirty, and encouraged her readers to enter to win a signed copy of the book, along with goodies by Princess Lasertron. A week later, we had a winner. Like Birdhouse, Megan and I both promoted the give-away via our social media channels. And like Birdhouse, the weeklong promotion cost precious little.

I will admit that I have been friends with Jessica and Megan for quite some time. But it helped the promotion, in both instances, that our relationships were already built. We understand each other’s brands inside and out, so promoting the other person and her business was effortless. It was a delight to not only see success in my book, but in their two businesses, as well.

If you find yourself in the early stages of a project or event, look around you. Identify other brands, businesses, and organizations you wish to partner with. Begin now and nurture the relationship. Introduce yourself, meet over coffee, and brainstorm ways you can help each other succeed. It needn’t be an expensive venture; just one steeped in a solid relationship and a hearty passion for what you do.

Let your imagination run wild. Don’t stop at social media. Think of events, initiatives, perhaps even ways your efforts could benefit a local nonprofit organization in your community. The more individuals you get involved in your project, the greater number of foot soldiers on the ground who will help tell your story.

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