Why You Need to Make Friends with Your Marketing Enemies

With the economic climate as crazy as it’s been, now’s a great time to look to your ‘friendly’ competition for opportunities to help grow your list and add extra revenues to your bottom line.

Even better, this can be done for virtually no out-of-pocket cost. Let me explain…

For many of my clients who have start-up companies or home-based businesses, I tell them how important is to think outside the box and implement high performing, organic (no cost) online marketing strategies that leverage what they already have: Content.

One such system is the SONAR Content Distribution Model TM, which I discuss in great detail in my new, best-selling book, Content Is Cash: Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased Traffic, Sales, Leads and Buzz [Que Publishing, paperback].

SONAR is a powerful method of repurposing and distributing free content (albeit text, audio, video) and synchronizing its release into various, targeted, organic channels. It can work for virtually any business, in any niche, with any budget. SONAR represents the following online distribution platforms: S Syndicate partners, content syndication networks, and user generate content sites O Online press releases N Network (social) communities, social bookmarking sites A Article directories R Relevant posts to blogs, forums, and message boards

Now to cover all the tactical nuances of each of the five SONAR platforms wouldn’t be feasible in this article, and in fact, is already covered in great depth in my book.

However, what I’d like to shed some light upon is the most popular, yet illusive SONAR dove-tail strategy that is often overlooked by many business owners – one that actually encourages relationship cultivation with your competitors – and that I call, ‘Frienemy Marketing’.

When it comes to business growth and visibility, don’t rule out collaborative efforts with your friendly competitors, and by friendly, I mean synergistic and respected formidable adversaries with a like-minded community of followers to your own.

This is a great way to leverage your content and increase market share, enhance brand awareness, grow sales and leads, and establish credibility with a new, yet synergistic list.

As a consultant, and even back in the days when I was leading the marketing efforts at top publishers like Agora, Weiss and Newsmax, it was important for me to be ‘strategically creative’ and deploy as many no-cost online marketing tactics as possible for greater return on investment (ROI).

I would concentrate on the marketing and editorial relationships I had forged with fellow publishers and aggressively pursued ad swaps, guest editorials, and joint ventures (JV).

The idea is to develop synergistic relationships that are mutually beneficial – to look for areas of deficiency in your competitors and think of ways your company can fill the void.

One potential partner may have a great front-end product (e.g., a low cost e-book) but no up-sell (e.g., a higher-priced related kit containing DVDs, CDs, and workbooks). Another potential partner may have an innovative back-end product but no cost-effective front-end product to bring new customers in the door. Still others may have large, qualified lists but need editorial to bond with their lists.

Some tips to keep in mind when looking for partnerships with friendly competitors:

– Do your homework. Find out, in advance, who will be at industry events that you’ll be attending. (Check the program for speakers, vendors, and participants.) Sign up for their e-newsletters. Read their promotional e-mails. Maybe even purchase some of their products.

– Look at EVERY opportunity as a way to maximize your company’s brand during presentation breaks, lunch time, and cocktail parties. When you go to industry events, don’t eat dinner alone in your hotel room. Go to functions. Mingle. Network. Have a genuine conversation with a potential partner… then, if there’s a synergy between your two companies, exchange business cards.

– Before you contact a potential partner, get familiar with his products and target audience and figure out how your company may be able to dovetail with his product line or marketing efforts.

So, once you’ve made the connection, now what?

Reciprocal Ad Swaps
Assuming you both have content-based ezines, you can test the waters and see how your lists will react by doing an advertising swap. In other words, you run an ad in his e-newsletter and he runs an ad in yours for either name collection (lead generation) or product sales. Both list sizes should be close in circulation size, hence the reciprocity. You both keep any sales or email addresses collected, and call it a day.

To make sense out of the results of that test, you have to know your “opportunity cost” – the “cost” you will incur for running an outside ad to your list instead of your own ad. If you normally sell ad space in your e-newsletter, this cost could simply be the flat rate fee you typically charge.

Or, if you know the average revenues an issue brings in, you could calculate the potential “missed opportunity” of letting another ad run to your list on a given day.

You should also agree to share important information with your partner. Before his ad runs in your e-newsletter, point out any creative issues.

Provide your partner with your e-newsletter’s sent and deliverability sizes, open rate, and ad click rate. Exchanging performance data is critical to a long and mutually beneficial relationship. It has to be a win/win situation for the partnership to work.

Guest Editorials/Editorial Contributions

You can also look into doing guest editorials in other publishers’ e-newsletters – with an editorial note or byline that links to your offer. This is a great way to get introduced to a new list with the “implied” endorsement of the publisher. His endorsement gives you credibility. And if you provide his readers with good, solid, useful information, they will bond with you quickly.

This is a soft-sell approach that may or may not yield results on its own. But when coordinated with either a dedicated e-mail (if your partner is on board with a revenue split) or an e-newsletter ad the same week, your conversion rate (the number of people who go on to buy your product) will dramatically improve.

Joint Ventures (JVs)
I’ve got one more idea for you: joint venturing. This is a quick and cost-effective way to make money with your list even if you have not yet developed any products.

With a JV, you have an instant product line with no overhead costs. Your partner will supply the products, fulfill orders, and provide customer support. All you have to do is promote the products to your list and split the net revenues with them. For an even a more turnkey approach, you can sell e-reports through sites like Clickbank.com, where everything is automated.

To determine the viability of a potential JV product, there are several strategic marketing variables to consider. I like to think of them as “PPPGS”:

P = Product quality
P = Price point
P = Performance (when promoted to your potential partner’s house list, as well as to outside lists)
G = General market demand
S = Subscriber interest (when promoted to your list, as determined by feedback, surveys, etc.)

Remember – you’re looking for long-term partners, not one-hit-wonders. So carefully select the people you approach, making sure their products, brand and message makes sense to your business…and, together, you can reap the unlimited profit potential of Frienemy Marketing.

[Ed. Note: Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA has nearly 20 years of marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies and top publishers and an expert at organic marketing tactics. She is the President of Precision Marketing and Media, LLC, and author of the Amazon best-seller, Content Is Cash: Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased Traffic, Sales, Leads and Buzz [Que Publishing, Paperback]. To learn more about SONAR marketing or get your copy of Content Is Cash, click here now!

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  • Hi Craig

    Thanks for sharing this great article. It’s true what Joe is saying when he says one must Focus on the RELATIONSHIP with customers. And if that is done and followed correctly it can bring huge change and success to one’s business. For past few weeks one of my online magazines was struggling to grow and the giant in my niche was crushing my magazine. With frustrations, I posted a question on Ryan lee’s blog, he said the same thing, build relationship with your readers, educate them and they will help grow your magazine.