5 Platforms for Cross-Promotions Between Local Businesses

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In tightknit communities around the country, small business owners are considered local influencers, and their opinions matter to the consumers who shop at their stores. Rather than go it alone with their local marketing campaigns, some of these merchants are finding success by partnering with peers in their communities and implementing new cross-promotional marketing strategies.

Eighty-five percent of business executives say strategic partnerships are vital to business growth, according to the business-to-business matching platform Powerlinx. However, the process of finding merchants who are interesting in forming partnerships and hammering out the details of cross-promotional campaigns can be challenging for the average small business owner. Hyperlocal technology vendors are now offering their own solutions, matching merchants with complementarity services and recommending campaign strategies based on their shared goals.

Here are five examples of platforms that small and mid-size businesses can try.

1. LoyalBe: Connect with another merchant’s most valuable customers.
LoyalBe is looking to make it easier for small businesses to succeed. Merchants are able to cross-promote their businesses through the online platform, while also rewarding existing customers for loyalty and publishing mobile coupons. Merchants set their own cross-promotion terms and contact the businesses they’d like to partner with through LoyalBe. Once a “cross-promotion alliance” is formed, the merchants’ loyalty programs are integrated. Customers who earn rewards at Store A, for example, will also receive coupons to use at Store B. Fifteen percent of any redeemed cross-promotion rewards go to the referring business. LoyalBe charges commissions based on the number of reward redemptions.

2. LoyalTap: Create a coalition loyalty program.
Local merchants benefit when the businesses around them are thriving. LoyalTap offers a way for merchants to create coalition loyalty programs in their own shopping districts, small towns, or retail centers. When customers sign up for the loyalty program at one business, they’re eligible to earn rewards at participating establishments throughout the community. They can also find new businesses to visit within the Community Directory. Purchases are tracked with QR codes, which means LoyalTap is POS independent. Businesses work directly with LoyalTap’s deployment coordinators to setup new coalition loyalty programs.

3. Alignable: Make connections with nearby merchants.
A hyperlocal social network for small business owners, Alignable makes it easier for merchants to meet one another and form mutually beneficial business relationships. Each Alignable member creates a business profile and adds connections from a Neighborhood Directory. Members can then “Recommend” other businesses, which tells the group that this is a business that they should feel confident referring customers to. Like other social networks, Alignable also provides users with ways to post upcoming events and promotions, share knowledge, and form deeper connections with fellow community leaders. Alignable is free for businesses.

4. Powerlinx: Get matched with businesses based on shared needs and goals.
Often described as a dating website for SMBs, Powerlinx connects merchants with peers who can further their strategic objectives. Business owners can search Powerlinx’s database to identify merchants with complimentary objectives and receive partner recommendations based on the goals listed in their own profiles. Powerlinx facilitates introductions, but it’s up to business owners themselves to create, implement, and manage any cross-promotional campaigns they come up with. Powerlinx is priced on a subscription basis.

5. Townsquared: Share resources with neighboring businesses.
Townsquared is an online network for small business owners. Merchants who’ve been “verified” can share advice and resources with their neighbors. Popular topics on the platform include marketing, hiring, accounting, permitting, and crimes. Through the platform, merchants should be able to develop new partnerships and discover new marketing opportunities with fellow business owners. Merchants can also join and form local small business industry groups, which could be another avenue for exploring cross-promotional opportunities. Townsquared is free to use.

Know of other cross-promotional tools for local businesses? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.