Why cross-promotion is so powerful
The incredible power of partnerships
By Molly Fosco, Freelance Writer
Think about your favorite blog, website or podcast. How did you first find out about it? Whether it was through an ad, an article, or word of mouth, there’s a great chance it happened through the content you already consume.
This is how cross-promotion works: similar brands promote each other’s content to grow their audiences. For example, according to Fast Company, when software service AppSumo promoted Dropbox by offering 10 free “Pro” accounts in a giveaway, it got 50,000 new email sign-ups in return.
The best part? It’s completely free.
Yeah, we know.
And not only is it a great way to generate awareness without having to spend a cent, it also facilitates mutually beneficial relationships. Favors beget more favors, and it becomes the partnership that keeps on giving.
Here’s how you can do it.
How to cross-promote your content:
1. First, define your target audience
You’ve probably already defined your customer personas, but make sure you’ve really honed in on who they are and where they get their news. What are they reading, watching and listening to?
It might seem obvious but an easy way to do this is through social media. Look at your audience on Facebook and see what other pages they like. Check out their Twitter accounts and see what other brands and influencers they follow. Or, use BuzzSumo, which helps you identify people that your audience loves. From this, create a list of prospects.
In our experience, the best ones you’re going to find are the closest to home: Is there an intersection of brands that your customers are into and yet you already know and work with? If so, start there.
2. Choose your partners
There are two main ways to cross-promote with partners: in-brand and out-of-brand.
NBC and Bravo, for example, are both owned by Comcast, so there’s a parent company relationship, and they’re in-brand. As a result, these two often promote each other’s lineups in on-air commercials. Similarly, Vanity Fair and GQ are both owned by Advance Publications so they often promote each other’s content in their magazines.
This works best when fans of one brand are likely to be fans of another. If there’s a shared parent company and their tone, voice, or topic are similar, it’s probably a safe bet.
If your company operates as a solo-brand, however, or if you’re looking to expand your reach, you’re looking at out-of-brand cross-promotion. These are your external partners, like the AppSumo-Dropbox example above.
Go through your shortlist of prospects, reach out via email, LinkedIn, or Twitter, and ask if they’re interested in cross-promoting with your content.
And of course, it almost goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyways: stay away from brands that compete directly with you. Because, well, why would you do that?
3. Find mutual benefit
Depending on your brand medium and strategy, cross-promotion can happen in several ways. You can promote your partner brand on your social media accounts, write about them in a blog post, or mention them in programming, and they should do the same for you.
If you do have a programming component such as a YouTube show or podcast, integrating partner brands into episodes can be very effective. When the audience hears a beloved host speak highly of another brand, it creates a lot of trust. Podcasts by Gimlet Media do this often.
Here are a few examples of cross-promotion in the wild:
1. On Social Media
Discovery Channel owns the Science Channel so here, they’re promoting Science Channel’s programming on their Facebook page. Their audience demographics are similar, so they know that there’s a lot of cross-interest.
2. In a Product
Android and Kit Kat teamed up to run this cross-promo campaign. According to Nestle’s EVP of marketing, there was no exchange of money. KitKat and Google are both popular among the millennial demographic, so it was a pure win-win.
3. In Digital
This YouTube channel, Seeker Daily, is promoting their partner channel, Seeker Stories, at the end of one of their videos. Both channels are owned by Seeker Media so they’re able to introduce new content to an audience they already know is interested in their brand.
The possibilities here are of course endless – limited only by your imagination. How can you imagine cross-promoting your content?
Cross-promotion is free, it's easy, and it often has long-term benefits for your brand and your company. If you’re not already doing it and looking to grow your audience, there’s never been a better time.