How Do Brands Cross-Promote? (With Cross-Promotion Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Most marketing strategies help businesses compete against others in isolation. Cross-promotion is one effective strategy which uses collaboration to benefit more than one business competing in their respective industries simultaneously. Understanding what cross-promotion is and the many strategies for using it is key to deploying effective marketing campaigns and activations which serve to increase sales and generate revenue. In this article, we explain what it means to cross-promote, provide a comprehensive list of cross-promotion strategies, and explain the benefits of cross-promotion.

What does it mean to cross-promote?

To cross-promote with another brand means to collaborate in marketing activations in ways that benefit both parties mutually. When cross-promotion is effective, it results in increases in consumer engagement, rates of sale, and consequent revenue for both companies competing in their own markets. Cross-promotion often involves two companies advertising each other's services. For this reason, companies which cross-promote are usually in separate industries and aren't mutual competition. Sharing promotion efforts allows different businesses to share their consumer base. For instance, a barbershop may promote along with a cafe next door by both businesses offering a discount to each other's customers.

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Cross-promotion strategies

Here's a comprehensive list of the strategies you can use to cross-promote with another business, along with helpful descriptions:

Send co-promotional e-mails

Co-promotional e-mails are an effective way to promote two companies at once by sending marketing materials to mutual demographics. For promotional activity, such as product bundles, transferrable rewards, and discounts, e-mails which are cross-promotional can be effective for businesses with related products or services. Just like with physical marketing strategies, this method allows businesses to share with their shoppers where their consumer bases intersect.

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Jointly invest in advertising

Jointly investing in advertising allows two or more companies to divide their marketing and advertising costs. This can mean that several businesses may be able to afford more impactful advertising channels, or pay for longer runs of advertising materials such as radio commercials. Even for print advertisements, if two companies divide a panel ad into sections, it reduces the cost for them and cross-promotes their products.

Organize public events

Public events are one of the most common formats in which businesses implement co-promotion. This is because, across the various aspects that go into making an event successful, there are many opportunities to sponsor or contribute, which result in co-promotion. For example, a bank may fund a marathon, where a sports drink donates promotional stock, a radio station provides free coverage, and a software development house offers free use of their activity tracking app. Here, each brand is cross-promoting by engaging in promotional activity which supports the event.

Use social media

Social media is one of the most powerful promotional tools, and can be equally effective for cross-promotion. Businesses often partner with other brands to attract more consumer attention and increase traffic. When two brands create cross-promotional material to post on social media, such as images or videos, both brands' pages can link to the other's to share the traffic they gain and direct attention to their co-collaborators.

For example, a fashion brand and a music studio can both post the same advertising video of a hip-hop-inspired streetwear line, and each can link to the other's profile. Here, the studio directs music fans to the fashion brand's page, and the fashion brand directs its consumers to the music studio's profile where they feature other artists.

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Share products with employees

One of the most effective promotion methods is to create brand representatives out of employees, but this concept doesn't only apply to a business's own staff. Two businesses can offer free supplies, products, or services to the employees of another business which does the same in return. By doing so, each business creates opportunities for employees of the other business to promote their products to their own customers.

This is most effective when the two businesses have complementary commercial offerings. For example, a wine store and a cheese store may give each other's staff some free product every month, giving each group of staff the desire to recommend the other establishment to their customers.

Release joint products

Two companies with complementary products may collaborate on a product offering to promote each simultaneously. These may be product bundles, or products which both businesses work together to develop and release as a cross-promotional product. This is also common where one business has proprietary technology, materials, or intellectual property which may work well with another company's products.

For example, a manufacturer of entertainment technologies, such as headphones and speakers, may release a joint product by collaborating with appliance manufacturers to create a beer fridge with built-in music speakers. They can release the product collaboratively and promote both businesses simultaneously.

Sharing a facility

Two complementary companies sharing a facility can be an effective way to promote their businesses. For instance, an arcade and a popular pizza brand sharing a space can be an effective cross-promotional arrangement. This is because customers may go to the pizza restaurant for a meal before being enticed into playing arcade games. Similarly, visitors to the arcade may get hungry and decide to eat at the pizza restaurant. In this instance, each brand provides its own service or product, while complimenting and cross-promoting the other by sharing a space.

Sharing a retail space

Similar to two companies with unrelated offerings, two businesses which are both in the retail industry may be cross-promoting when they share a retail space. In successful cases, both companies usually offer complementary but separate products. For instance, a cosmetics store and a clothing store may share a retail space and create a cross-promotional environment where their mutual presence creates a shared consumer base.

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Working with digital partners

Collaborating with digital partners, such as influencers, may be lucrative prospects for cross-promotion. When working with influencers, brands promote this digital partner's reputation and public image by sponsoring them with money or products. In return, influencers promote these products to their followership. Influencers or celebrities differ from corporate digital partners in that both parties aren't promoting their own products, but rather the product is promoting the status of the brand representative, and they promote the product in exchange.

Benefits of cross-promotion

There are many benefits to using cross-promotion to advertise a brand through collaboration. Some of these benefits relate to two or more businesses' ability to compliment the others' offerings, while some benefit businesses because collaboration reduces the investment of cost, time, and effort. Here are the main benefits of using cross-promotion:

Improved local business

Cross-promoting with other nearby businesses can help improve customer retention among locals. By sharing promotions with other businesses within your geographic region, you can gain more business from locals who visit your collaborative partners. Focussing your attention on local business can also encourage customer loyalty among your local clientele and promote the area itself as a destination. Collaborating with other nearby businesses may also decrease the costs of transportation when shipping is a factor.

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Free advertising

One of the most attractive benefits of cross-promotion is that it provides a channel of free advertising for all involved businesses. Because the conditions of advertising are mutual and collaborative, each business gains from the exchange as much as they contribute. While companies may spend money on creating marketing materials or writing off stock, this is usually a lower cost than they may otherwise spend on their own self-promotion. Companies who enter cross-promotion agreements may split marketing costs, which also decreases the amount each spends.

Stronger brand awareness

Through collaborative cross-promotion efforts, businesses may gain additional brand awareness among consumers with the exposure they gain. Consumers may associate your brand with that of your cross-promotional collaborators, which can increase their awareness of the brand. Cross-promotional representation also provides additional points of visibility for brands, whether it's online or in-person.

Social media relevance

Partnering with social media influencers to use cross-promotion can have a positive effect on your online relevance. For instance, if a popular influencer promotes your brand or its social media page, this can create a greater sense of relevance to prospective consumers. Similarly, the increased presence and visibility of the brand online may earn it greater relevance to social media users.

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