Maximizing Ad Swaps, Guest Editorials, and JV Opportunities

Now is a great time to look to your competition for opportunities to help grow your list and add extra revenues to your bottom line for little or no cost.

For example, here at Early to Rise I just completed media buy (i.e., outside advertising purchasing) recommendations for all of our newsletters – Early to Rise, Total Health Breakthroughs, and Investor’s Daily Edge. My advice was to reduce them to help control costs through the end of 2008, as the tough economy continues to impact everyone. But my number one focus is, instead, for each marketing manager to concentrate on leveraging the marketing and editorial relationships we have with our fellow publishers and aggressively pursuing 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. (This frequently happens when marketers collect names through their websites or direct mail, but don’t have a regularly scheduled publication – such as an e-newsletter – to offer people who sign up.)

Some tips to keep in mind when looking for potential partners:

• 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. 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.

At this year’s ETR Info Marketing Bootcamp, I noticed that attendees were really taking advantage of all the opportunities to network with each other and the ETR staff…during presentation breaks, lunch time, cocktail parties – whenever and wherever – making the most out of the experience!

• 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?

Ad Swaps

Assuming you both have e-newsletters, 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.

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. (Perhaps the copy is too inflammatory for your list. Perhaps it’s too competitive.) 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.

Whether your goal is to attract names for your e-list (lead generation) or to make sales, reciprocate in kind. If your partner is letting you do a name collection ad to his list, for example, let him run the same kind of ad to your list. But first make sure his list is approximately the same size as yours. If it’s substantially smaller, you may want to hold off on an ad swap with that publisher until he builds his subscriber base. You don’t want the initiative to be one-sided.

However, on a case-by-case basis, it doesn’t hurt to extend “good will” to a fellow publisher with proven marketing muscle. For example, when Total Health Breakthroughs launched in summer of 2007, I reached out to several industry friends and colleagues, asking if we could run a lead generation ad to their lists to help us build our subscriber base. We had little to offer in return at the time. (We barely had a list of our own.) But, thankfully, many agreed. The THB list grew in no time, and we were soon able to reciprocate.

Guest Editorials

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, 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 make sense relative to your business…and, together, you can reap the unlimited profit potential of reciprocal marketing!

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