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How to Co-Promote Your Small Business

Written By John Richards on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | 3:53 PM

Small Business Saturday is set for November 24, the day following Black Friday. On this day, we’re encouraged to do our holiday shopping at small local businesses within our communities. Our participation helps keep our communities thriving while encouraging a spirit of local collaboration and support.
Our community consciousness needn't stop there. Small businesses – whether online or brick and mortar – should look for opportunities throughout the year to join forces with other small businesses. The most successful business owners know that sometimes it’s collaboration, not competition, that can take your business to the next level.
Take a look at four ways to get started co-promoting your small business below:
1. Co-promote your small business with others: Not every business is your competitor. Think of ways you can work with complementary small businesses for joint marketing opportunities. Get creative and make connections anywhere and everywhere.
Examples might include:
  • A local public relations professional collaborating with other service providers to put on a “small business boot camp” where they offer a helpful mix of expertise on tax advising, how to obtain financing, advertising opportunities, social media strategies and more.
  • A boutique soapmaker teaming up with accessory designers and other crafters to put together a local holiday sale or summer trunk show, bringing in their combined pool of customers.
  • A local boutique shop offering discounts for yoga clothing to anyone who takes yoga classes nearby (and vice-versa).
2. Create a small business referral network: If you’re a small business, chances are you’re focused on a few areas you do well while your customers have other needs you’re unable to meet. Rather than ignoring those customer needs, create a circle of small businesses that you know and trust to recommend to your customers. For example, a copywriter can recommend a graphic designer or web designer to his clients. An interior designer can recommend a landscaper or painter. No matter your industry or occupation, business is driven by referrals and connections.
From personal experience, I’m CEO of a small business that takes care of legal document filings, helping other businesses incorporate, close a business, file a trademark, etc. However, we can’t provide specific financial or tax advice to clients. That’s why we team up with accountants, CPAs, and tax advisors. While we may not be able to fulfill a specific need ourselves, we can help our customers obtain the services they need.
The collaborative small business is always on the lookout for opportunities to help fellow small businesses. Check Meetup.com or your local Chamber of Commerce for a relevant group in your area. You can either join a formal referral group or forge informal alliances with complementary entrepreneurs yourself. Whatever method you choose, just remember that whatever you give out, you’ll get back in return.
3. Get inspiration from other small businesses: Your fellow small business owners can be a great source of inspiration and support. Consider joining an industry group, participating in online forums like Quora and LinkedIn.
If you work from home, you can beat the isolation by finding a weekly/monthly local meet-up group or spending some time in collocated office space. Websites like LiquidSpace.comLoosecubes.com and WorkSnug.com can help you find a co-working space in major cities, but the trend is catching on in smaller towns as well.
By spending time with fellow small business owners, you can share stories, discuss common challenges, and brainstorm solutions. You’ll be amazed at just how inspired you can become from the energy of others.
4. Collaborate! I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good competition and any small business owner knows that a competitive streak is key to entrepreneurial success. Keep in mind that sometimes it’s better to see fellow small businesses as partners instead of competitors. Harness the power of collaboration to help attract more customers, get inspired, and grow your business.
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