Cooperative Marketing: Like-Minded Businesses Want to Build Your Organization

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

A line of 3D stick figures wearing ties with blue circles at their feet & red checkmark picking oneIt’s easier than you think to find a co-op friend in the neighborhood.

Whether you are a physician, surgeon, dentist, physical therapist, optometrist, veterinarian or other healthcare professional, developing win-win relationships with nearby businesses is always a great marketing idea… and something we have been teaching for years.

The trouble is, in the real world almost no one makes the effort. And that’s a shame, because it can work like wild fire and it’s often remarkably fast and easy.

In fact, in some types of organizations (such as medi-spas), cooperative marketing can be a key part of your larger marketing plan.

My hot-off-the-press real-world story:

I was at the gym a couple of weeks ago and noticed that a local cosmetic dentist had a tabletop display to extend an introductory offer to the appearance-conscious gym-goers. Wow! It was co-op in action. (I even sent an email to congratulate the marketing-smart dentist.)

Because I happen to be a partner in a nearby medi-spa, I asked to speak with the gym manager – and asked if our medi-spa could provide a similar display the following weekend. To my surprise and delight, the weekend manager said YES on the spot. Better still, he said we could do it for free!

It was just that effortless. It took maybe three minutes to arrange a powerful win-win co-op.

There was no corporate hierarchy, no protracted decision process, no calls, no letters, no complications. ALL I HAD TO DO WAS ASK! (The display was up the next weekend, and because we were so gracious, we have an “open door” to go back whenever we like.)

And since that was so painless, I asked the manager: “Would you like me to create a gift certificate for gym new members to receive a free cosmetic service at our medi-spa?” Again he said YES.

Why? Was it just because he is such a nice guy?

Well, it turns out he is a nice guy, but that has nothing to do with it.

He agreed to work with us because I was able to show him how our certificate will help his sales team sell more memberships.

I even gave him a script that his salespeople will use…

“Oh and one more thing, Linda. When you sign up for your gym membership today, we’ll throw in a gift certificate good for $60 in free services at a great local medi-spa…”

(He hands the customer my medi-spa’s flyer which Healthcare Success custom wrote and designed especially for the gym’s new member kit).

“That’s like getting your first two month’s membership dues back, to apply to whatever cosmetic treatment or product you like.”

(By the way, usually our real cost will be far less than $60, and the vast majority of gym members will spend a lot more than $60 with us, and then refer their friends to boot.)

Your lesson from my little drama is that it took a little bit of courage to ask and to win approval – and the strategy moves from concept to reality to results.

So don’t hesitate. The biggest obstacle to getting the job done is simply that most are afraid to ask.

Try this one for yourself today. And send me a note tomorrow to let me know how well it worked for you.

PS: Look for me at the gym. (I’ll be wearing my Ohio State t-shirt.)

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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