A great joint promotion proves that one plus one equals six and sometimes more.  Joint promotions get you more for your promotional dollar by increasing awareness, especially in markets you haven’t yet tapped into. Utilizing existing relationships and establishing new partnerships can provide a unique channel for your business’s message. If done well, joint promotions also lower costs and garner media attention.

The process starts by developing clear objectives and goals before evaluating any opportunity. Have a clear understanding of what you have to gain and what you stand to loose. Outlining your expectations allows you to reach your target public more effectively—from potential partners to media outlets.

Make sure the promotion has the right partners. As a retailer, most of your vendors should already have the positioning you are aligned with and the audience you want. When veering outside your business circle, make sure your promotional partners come with the right targets and message. If your viewpoints and goals are streamlined, your message will be stronger and ultimately more effective.

Determine costs and responsibilities ahead of time and make sure all details are on paper so there is no confusion. Each involved party’s financial and labor roles should be clearly defined from the initial meeting. This will save time and effort in the production stages and increase the likelihood for future partnerships. Some questions to ask are:
• Who is organizing the promotion?
• How much will it cost to produce?
• What are the marketing costs associated with the promotion?
• Who will provide the location or personnel?
• What existing relationships can each partner tap into to increase the promotion’s success?

As a retailer, your store can be the centerpiece or location for a promotion. If that is the case, make sure the logistics are successfully and seamlessly handled. Your management style and business practices will reflect on your ability to be a successful promotional partner. If you are going to provide product or services off-site, be prepared to provide proper signage, staff and other appropriate vendors for the event.

Non-profit organizations are invaluable partners. Find one that is strategic for your business and supports a cause that you and your customers are passionate about. Cause-related marketing raises awareness and can help attract a new clientele. Your options for support can cover a wide spectrum with varying costs that suit your budget. You can donate product, service, time or money.

Other high-profile partners include media sponsors. Make sure part of the deal is promotion through that media outlet and note that their competitor will not cover your promotion as well. Offering exclusivity in these cases can establish trust and a lasting relationship for future placements.

There are many types of promotions you can get involved with, but the most successful and profitable promotions are publicizable. Whether they piggyback on current holidays, season, trends, or health awareness months, make sure your promotion is something media will find newsworthy, remain interested in and help promote. Highlight what is new or unique about your current product or business activity to fully engage media and spark story ideas.

Nancy Trent is the owner and founder of Trent & Company, Inc., a New York City-based marketing communications firm that specializes in healthy lifestyle brands. She can be reached at (212)966-0024 or through e-mail at nancy@trentandcompany.com.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2009