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.

e3BFM 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, a practice is notified that it has 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.

But would it be a good idea to place the award company’s logo on the practice’s web site? What was “in it” for the practice? And what was in it for the award company? What if the award wasn’t an “award” at all, but merely a pretense to have the practice add the award company’s logo to their website? The practice might consider that working with the award company would be ineffective cross marketing.

An actual example of just such an award company shows why working with the award company would be ineffective cross marketing. First, it was unclear what, if any, marketing 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, the award company’s web site 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.