Everyone could use a little help from their friends sometimes, especially when it comes to marketing. You spend your hard earned marketing dollars day in and day out trying to attract clients in the same area. What if there was a way to lessen the financial burden you have every time you try and reach those clients?

There is — you just have to look to your friends for help. Your friends, in this instance, are the other businesses in your area who are also trying to reach those same people. Think of how many services are out there trying to reach the same homeowners in your area who would not pose a risk to you or create competition.

To really increase the mileage you can get out of your marketing dollars, create some type of cross-promotion with a company in your area in a noncompeting industry. For instance, I’m sure there are dry cleaners in your area looking to increase their client base. I’m also sure they would like to do it more economically than they could do it on their own.

So team up. Perhaps one of them will share the cost of your next direct mail campaign if you include its coupon or endorse its latest offer to your clients. Of course, make sure this is a reputable company in your area, because if you’re recommending a poor service, it’ll come back to haunt you.

I saw this notion of teaming up at work most recently one night on television. A Chevrolet commercial came on with the car zooming around curves and over hills, like they always do in car commercials. This time, however, the car was driven by the Maytag repairmen. Now what were they doing in a car commercial? They weren’t selling appliances, but their message still came through. Their appliances wouldn’t break down, so they had nothing to worry about except driving around in their new Chevy.

It’s a simple idea, and both Maytag and Chevy will share the rewards and the costs. Not only that, but both will also benefit from the reputation of the other. It’s two excellent companies working as a team to enhance exposure to potential clients while lowering costs.

If you’re planning ahead, you know how much you are going to spend in marketing in the upcoming months. Try to find ways to make your advertising budget stretch even further. Dry cleaners, ice cream parlors, and local restaurants are all great targets for cross-promotions. All of these businesses would most likely enjoy having more clients, and they would most likely enjoy splitting the cost of reaching them with you in targeted communities.

Think about sending all of the homeowners in your area a letter offering them a tune-up and then including a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream to keep them cool this summer. It’s a simple idea, but I would wager that your local ice cream establishment would jump at the opportunity to get their name out to new homeowners and potential clients.

So, team up with other reputable local businesses, and you won’t just get by with a little help from your friends. You’ll thrive with a little help from your friends!

Nicholson is president of Contractors Services, the membership development arm of the VenVest Inc. portfolio of companies, which includes AirTime500, an organization for the HVAC industry. You can reach Nicholson at 800-524-1954 or tnicholson@venvestinc.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 08/12/2002