Web promotion and advertising is essential to the success of many, if not all, companies today. But it is a tricky area for a lot of people. It becomes even trickier if you are talking about a brick and mortar company that has no real online experience or activity. If you are a relative unknown on the web, the chances of you sticking around in the new economy are slim and none.
Luckily, there are companies that dominate business on the web. I am talking about companies that were formed and developed online, with no real offline business activity. These companies, like social networks, e-commerce retailers, and search engines operate primarily online and have already carved out their corner of the online marketplace. So why not reach out to them?
A partnership with an online company can go a long way toward helping an offline company compete in an online world. Instead of going it alone, and guessing your way to success (or failure, most likely), try leveraging their brand on the web to increase exposure and improve business. Many organizations (ie. Salvation Army) have tried the hard way only to find out it didn’t work.
Step one, do a little research. Find out what types of companies are reaching your target audience online. Figure out who is popular, why they are popular, and how a potential partnership could work. Prepare yourself for negotiations, but go in with an open mind. Many of these online companies have their own strategies that have taken them to where they are, and a partnership with an offline company might be a relatively new concept.
Step two, reach out to them. Tell them what you are interested in doing. Explain to them how it can help both parties reach new audiences. Even if all you are doing is adding content to their website, or inventory for them to sell, a simple revenue share might do the trick. And it will still get you the necessary exposure that your are looking for.
Step three, let go. Your instinct will be to try to control this new online strategy. Most things online can only be controlled up to a certain point before consumer behavior takes over. Most likely, the web-based company you are partnering with will have a better idea of how to implement and manage this strategy, so give them some control.
One basic example would be a retail store with limited online exposure partnering with Woot, Amazon, or an eBay store. Another is a restaurant that partners with an online menu server to get some attention. This can be purely marketing and advertising, or it can be co-branded sponsorships. You can add content, inventory, money, or your own customer base. Be creative.
In the end, even if it costs you some money, it will still be cheaper than trying to develop your own content online. And if it works, you can just do more of it. The truth is, even if you are not struggling now, the time is coming that a company who has no presence on the web will become absolete.