Buddy SystemYour business can offer the absolute best products or services on the planet, but if nobody knows that they exist, your business will fail in the same way that unfortunately, so many other small businesses do. Marketing is key for getting the word out, but it can be overly expensive for a small-business-sized budget. Not to mention that some “experts” are anything but, so you can conceivably pay an arm and a leg for marketing help and wind up with few sales to show for it. So, how do you effectively market your business without busting your budget? The answer is… use “the buddy system”! Here are a few tips:

Pair up with complementary businesses.
For those businesses that are, shall we say “budget-challenged”, buddying up with a business or businesses that provide a complementary offering to your target customer base can be a great marketing strategy. The idea here is to reach a customer base that would be interested in your products or services, but is not from your company’s direct competition or existing customer base. For example, if you teach music lessons, buddy up with a nearby store that sells musical instruments, rather than finding another music teacher.

Trade marketing opportunities with your buddy.
You can advertise that buddy business to your existing customer base in exchange for them doing the same to their customers. This can be any combination of exchanging website links, offering a deal through your social media accounts, including them in your newsletters, sharing fliers, providing discount coupons or even singing their praises through videos, etc. Both businesses will benefit from the extra exposure for virtually no expense.

Utilize referrals.
You can also use the buddy system to your advantage through referrals and commission based offers. With this approach, you can offer a commission to any business that refers a customer that makes a purchase from you. This can be done in myriad ways, but rather easily with affiliate web links. Here, each company gets a unique affiliate link and said company gets a commission from any customer that completes a purchase through that link.

Since the commissions are based solely on completed transactions, it eliminates the worry of paying for advertising that doesn’t garner any results, all while introducing your business to a new customer base. And the other companies are more inclined to promote you, because they are being directly rewarded for their efforts.

Pool your resources.
You can also buddy up for co-op advertisements or even co-sponsored events. The benefits of this approach are twofold- you can share the expenses amongst all of the participating businesses, while reaching a bigger audience. Meaning, whatever your original marketing budget is, simply by pooling resources with 5 other businesses, you can expand your budget and reach by 5 times.

And events have the extra benefit of face-time, when you can actually build a genuine relationship and connections with other businesses. This common ground can increase the likelihood of successful marketing efforts, because others are more likely to help and support you and your business once a face-to-face connection has been established.

Be a true pal.
And perhaps, the most effective way to buddy up is to be a good buddy (this is true outside of business, too!). This means helping out in whatever ways that you can without expecting anything in return, as well as being generally thoughtful (think sending a hand-written note or nice gift when they land a new client or launch a new product). People are much more likely reciprocate help and building that oft-spoken about know, like and trust factor can really go a long way towards garnering all-important “word of mouth” marketing that is invaluable.

What other tips do you have for buddying up your business marketing? Please share them below.

Thanks to Amandah Blackwell of Savvy-Writer, Emily Kristofferson of EmilyKristofferson.com, Rae Hoffman of Sugarrae, and Dr. Kacie Crisp of Dr. Kacie Crisp Coaching for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.