Increase Sales Through Cross-Promotions with These Simple Rules

Every person today is being sold to, in one way or another, pretty much all the time. Whether on their phones, browsing the internet at work, or simply walking through a commercial area, there are dozens of sales messages all trying to break through to consumers and capture their attention.

The trick to getting that attention is not so much a matter of what, but of when. If you can get your message in front of consumers when they are already in a purchase-making mode, your sales message has a much greater chance of breaking through, especially if you are making a relevant offer.

This is why cross-promotions (sometimes called co-marketing) are so effective: By partnering with other brands and businesses, they allow you not only to get your message to a wider audience, but to do so at precisely the right time. This is especially true if your cross-promotions involve on-package promotional tools.

How Cross-Promotions Can Help Increase In-Store Sales

Most of the advice you see today about cross-promotions are really about cross-channel sales—for example, finding a partner to sell items online that you already carry in-store (or vice versa). But cross-promoting products has been a popular (and successful) marketing tactic since long before there was an internet, and it is an important way to increase product sales in retail.

Here are a few general ways in which in-store cross-promotion have been successful in the past:

Introducing new products. Some consumers love to try new things. Some tend to stand by their old favorites. So how do you get the less adventurous consumer to try a new brand, product line, or flavor? Consider doing a cross-promotion that bundles two or more products together for savings. Or, simply offer an on-pack coupon for the new product or flavor, so the customer is prompted to try it.

Upselling. Consumers often divide their purchases mentally into two categories: “What I need now” and “What I can wait to purchase.” A successful upsell moves a product from the “wait” category to the “I need it now” category.

For example, a consumer at a grocery store or pharmacy might not feel they need to buy a bar of chocolate today. But if there were a coupon for so much off chocolate, placed on the jar of peanut butter they are already purchasing, they might be inclined to use that coupon right now, while they are at the store.

Reaching a new customer base. Cross-promotions don’t necessarily have to be for complementary products, or products produced by your company. A partnership with any non-competing brand can potentially attract new customers who might not have considered your products before.

Offsetting price increases. Price increases are sometimes a necessity, especially when supply chains are being stressed and inflation is in the air. But brands can take some of the “sting” out of price increases by offering coupons and discounts that can be redeemed right at the point of purchase.

Best Practices for Cross-Promotional Campaigns

So what sorts of cross-promotions are best for increasing in-store sales? While there is a lot of variety in the kinds of possible cross-promotional campaigns you can run, there seem to be some simple rules behind all the successful ones:

  • Keep the offer relevant
  • Make the value immediate
  • Get consumers to sample
  • Start the promotions as early as possible

(To help remember these rules, notice that the bold words—relevant, immediate, sample, early—spell out RISE. And that’s the goal: A rise in sales!) 

These rules are easy to implement with on-pack and POS/POP offers, if you know how to look for the relevant opportunities. For example, consider:

Complementary Products in Your Company

If your company creates or sells products that are already complementary, it makes sense to cross-promote between them. For example, a dairy farm that sells both eggs and butter in local grocery stores could easily run a promotion offering a discount on one if a consumer buys the other. This encourages consumers to keep all their “kitchen essential” purchases within your brand.

Complementary Products from Other Companies

Complementary products can happen with a different brand or company, too. Think about some natural combinations of products: Chips and salsa. Soy sauce and rice. Ice cream and ice cream scoops. Charcoal grills, utensils, and charcoal briquettes. It might take some additional outreach, but if the pairing is a natural one, the resulting sales will be worth it.

Sample Packs

Can you provide a small sample size of your product and bundle it with another product? Samples and freebies are a great way to get consumers to try something new. Include a coupon for their next purchase of the full-sized product, and you will successfully create a customer base.

Instant Redemption

Instant redemption coupons (IRCs) are an obvious way to make the value of the cross-promotion immediate. But many marketers mistakenly think that IRCs must offer a discount on the product to which the coupon is attached—for example, a pack of brisket would have a coupon for that very package. But this does not necessarily have to be the case; the coupon could be for another complementary product (see above). This prompts the customer to make that cross-purchase on the same shopping trip. An IRC for a free sample works too, especially if your product does not have a sample size. For example, some brands of dry cat food offer IRCs for customers to try a can of their wet cat food, too.

New Product Launches

When a new product or variation is launched, it is the perfect time to consider promotions, because new products often require new package design anyway. When your manufacturer is ready to set up the line for creating the packaging, have them add a step where they include an on-pack coupon, sticker, or hang tag.

Getting Started with Cross-Promotional Vehicles

Once you have a feel for the shape your cross-promotion will take, it’s time to plan out the implementation. For example, now is the time to “sweat the details” when it comes to designing, printing, and applying coupons or hang tags to your products. (PrintFlex can, of course, help with all three stages.)

Some common vehicles for cross-promotions that we have decades of experience with include:

  • Instant redemption coupons (IRCs)
  • Hang tags and “hang ups”
  • Stickers
  • FDA-approved inserts
  • POS/POP solutions

While it makes sense to outsource these to a carefully chosen third-party printer, there are also times when it makes more sense to install these capabilities in-house, especially if new products or new promotions are introduced with some regularity. Installing the right equipment in-line at your own plant can increase efficiency and thereby your overall speed to market. Again, this is something PrintFlex can help with through our equipment consulting, leasing, and sales.

Remember: It is important to start early, and it is never too early to get a partner or vendor in on your plans for promotion—even if you are just in the design phase. So, if you are considering a cross-promotional strategy, contact us today for additional ideas and a plan for execution.