Think how much more you could get done if you shared marketing tactics with your fellow businesses? Here are some tips to make the most out of group marketing:
Cooperate. Forget competition—the marketing buzzword today is “co-optition.” Co-optition means teaming up with complementary businesses to market your companies together. For instance, if you own a pet products store, you could let a local dog groomer or dog-walker leave their brochures at your checkout counter. In return, they could pass out discount coupons for your store to their customers. Co-optition exposes your brand to a whole bunch of new customers, multiplying your marketing reach. And because prospects are getting information about your business from a trusted source (the other business that they already patronize), they’re more likely to buy from you.
Make marketing a group effort. Consider uniting with other businesses near yours to host a special event. For instance, every summer, all the restaurants on one street in my neighborhood host a monthly “Stroll and Savor” night where each eatery sells samples of their cuisine outdoors for a dollar or two. A group event like this is a great way to attract new customers who might not otherwise try your business. In an outdoor shopping center or downtown district, all the stores could join forces to have a “Sidewalk Sale” or similar event. The more businesses get involved, the more clients the event can attract.
Start a buy-local campaign. A marketing campaign encouraging shoppers to buy local has a built-in edge because it helps not only your business, but the community’s tax base and local employment. One study showed that even during the recession, businesses in areas with buy-local campaigns had smaller sales declines that businesses in areas without those campaigns. A good buy-local campaigns educates consumers about the value of independent businesses; promotes shopping at independent businesses through ads, coupons, shop-local weeks and similar marketing tools; and promotes local independent businesses in the media. The American Independent Business Alliance and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies are two groups that can help you start a buy-local group. Their Web sites offer lots of advice on getting members, promoting the concept to consumers and market your buy-local campaign.