Cross Marketing

Cross marketing is a promotional technique where two companies with complementary products or services work together to promote their organizations. A common example is movies that partner with fast food chains to promote both the movie and the fast food chain. Cross marketing has become so common that it is often taken for granted. It is easy to lose track of what constitutes successful cross marketing.

e3Business believes that successful cross marketing occurs when: 1) The products and services appeal to the same or equitable markets; 2) The promotional value is equitable and; 3) The cross marketing is actually performed. These objectives may seem like common sense, but they are often challenged in the healthcare market. Medical practices are routinely approached by companies that want to work with them but have little to offer in return.

For example, an e3Business client was recently notified that it had been selected as a “best practice” in its community and would receive an award recognizing the practice once the practice signed a release and confirmed its address. To help the practice inform patients of this award, the practice would receive a certificate to display in the office and an image to upload to its website. The practice signed the release, confirmed its address and within minutes received an email with the award company’s logo to be placed on the practice’s web site.

At this point, e3Business intervened to consider the decision to place the award company’s logo on the practice’s web site. Why would the practice add the award to the web site? What was “in it” for the practice? And what if the practice didn’t add the award? The practice agreed to wait a few days before modifying their web site. During this time, the award company sent a series of emails first reminding the practice to add their logo and then threatening that the practice would lose the award if the practice did not add their logo. It became clear that working with the award company would be ineffective cross marketing.

Why would working with the award company be ineffective cross marketing? First, it was unclear what, if any, market the award company provided that would benefit the practice, while the practice’s web site would give the award company views by all of the practice’s patient population. Second, a review of the award company’s web site found that they touted their “network of recognized provider offices” for companies interested in marketing to medical practices. As a result, this cross marketing offering had very little value to the medical practice but provided the basis for what appeared to be the “award” company’s core business: Marketing to medical practices.