The Power of Local Partnerships During the Holiday Sales Season

October 2015

The bustling holiday season is when sales skyrocket for many businesses. But this burst of shopping for gifts, making purchases for holiday entertaining and end-of-year planning is matched by an onslaught of advertising and promotions that can make it a challenge for a business to stand out from the competition.

Counting down to the start of the holiday shopping season, Time Warner Cable has assembled a series of expert tips to ensure small businesses stand out from the pack and achieve success during the holiday season.

One piece of advice to keep in mind as you work to make an impression on current and prospective customers: There’s power in partnerships. By partnering with other businesses you can create greater marketing opportunities by developing promotions that advance the interests of all involved, you can create marketing opportunities greater than the sum of your parts. There are a number of ways to do this, and here are a few of those most likely to generate success.

1. Create a Fusion Product or Service

One way for a small business to create synergy between itself and another company is to co-develop a new product, perhaps one that combines what both companies do best.

That has been the approach of Loveletter Cakeshop, a boutique bakery in New York City that has made a practice of creating limited-edition products that connect their offerings with those of other brands. For example, they partnered with a local brewery to develop a recipe infusing cakes with beer. The result helped pull beer fans into the bakery and introduced some pastry lovers to a new beer. 

Service providers can also team up to make life a little easier for busy clients. For example, a health club could partner with a nearby dry cleaner to allow customers to pick up or drop off clothes when they come to workout, saving them time for holiday activities.

The point is to get creative with your partnerships to offer your customers greater convenience during this frenzied time of year.

Both companies can promote the fusion products and services across social media and on-site, with employees talking up each other’s products. The limited-edition nature of the fusion products and services can also make them seem that much more special.

2. Create Cross-Promos

For those companies in which creating a fusion does not make sense, there are other opportunities to cross-promote. You might consider creating special promotional products for other merchants to give away in order to add value to their customers’ experience while spreading your message. For example, if a local restaurant offers BYOB service, they can provide a local wine shop with customized bottle openers to hand out to customers, or create customized stir sticks that a nearby coffee shop can stock. 

3. Hold a Contest

Another way to cross-promote your offerings is to organize a contest that encourages shoppers to enter at different stores in order to increase chances of winning. For example, consumers get additional entries into a contest for each designated local store they visit. Each week over the holidays, a different local business can announce a prizewinner and encourage entrants to try again at partner stores. If you are looking for social media ideas, host a co-branded Instagram contest. Ask customers to post photos related to your business and create a holiday hashtag that followers from all participating businesses can use to enter to win a drawing. Prizes could include gift baskets, gift cards or discounts for all participating businesses. 

Getting Started with a Cross Promotion

No matter what type of promotion you decide will work best, the level of success the promo has is largely dependent on partnering with the right businesses.

When you approach another business to serve as a promotion partner this season,  there are a few things to keep in mind.

“Present your case in terms of what is in it for them,” says Judy Crockett, owner of Interactive Marketing & Communications, who works with a number of small businesses to develop their marketing plans. “When you cross-promote, there must be something of value shared by each business, as well as the customer. ‘What's in it for me if I participate in this promotion?’”

Assure the partner company you will send customers their way, both companies will grow sales, or you are helping them enhance the experiences of their customers.


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