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Marketing Partnerships: A Guerrilla Marketer’s Best Friend

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Marketing Partnerships: A Guerrilla Marketer’s Best Friend

by Shel Horowitz

What’s the easiest way to get in front of a new audience? Partner with someone who’s already there. It could be a competitor, a complementary business, a nonprofit—any organization that’s already welcomed and trusted by the very people you’d most

like to reach.

Here’s a great example of competitors marketing together, cooperatively: A newspaper co-op ad from 11 local florists, who teamed up just before Mother’s Day. By joining forces, the consortium could afford a big ad that demanded to be noticed. The

headline: “You wouldn’t buy your groceries from a florist! So, why buy your plants from a grocer?”

The ad copy emphasized higher plant quality, expert knowledge, and various other benefits, and then gave full contact info for each of the florists who partnered


to create it.

Small local companies aren’t the only ones doing this. Some of the largest and most fiercely competitive corporations in the world engage in joint ventures regularly.

Think about the package delivery business. The USPS subcontracts intercity air transportation of Express Mail and Priority Mail to FedEx, which gets a substantial new revenue stream and utilizes otherwise wasted air freight capacity. And meanwhile, FedEx has installed thousands of drop boxes at post offices around the country, thus helping its consumers avoid pickup charges and making shipping with the company incredibly convenient.

In the book world, we’re particularly fortunate. Our competitors don’t take away our sales; book buying is what economists call an elastic market, one that keeps growing as new products are introduced. When someone buys a car, that buyer is choosing not to buy every other car on the market. But when someone buys a book, the action often leads to more books being bought.

Think about it: do you know many cooks who own only one cookbook? Golfers with one only golf book? Lovers of fiction who’ve read just one novel? Once they start buying, they keep buying. And once they start talking about a book, others buy it too.

That means that as publishers we’re uniquely suited to woo our competitors with co-marketing opportunities that help all the participants.

Teaming Up for Green

So, how did my co-author, Jay Conrad Levinson, and I put the partnership idea into practice to launch our book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green?

We put all sorts of partnerships into place. For instance:

We donated a portion of first-month proceeds to a charity partner, Green America, which spread word of our book to its 94,000 members.

We offered bloggers, e-zine editors, and influential marketers (many of whom could be considered our competitors) two powerful incentives to tell their followings about the book: the chance to build their own lists by submitting a bonus, and the chance to upsell a product and earn commissions. With these partnerships, we’re able to offer anyone buying the book a package of extras worth well over $2,650 (you can see them at guerrillamarketinggoesgreen.com/bonuses).

Of course, by partnering with Jay—creator of the Guerrilla Marketing brand and an absolute rock star in the marketing world—I was able not only to make the book stand out, but also to have repeated access to his list of 84,000 members of the Guerrilla Marketing Association.

The Ask

How did I get partners? Over the years, I’ve commented on a lot of people’s blogs and newsletters, built relationships with these folks, and kept a list. So when I approached these people, I was a known quantity. (This also helps in getting blurbs, by the way, and Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green went to press with more than 50 endorsements from well-known figures in both the green and the marketing worlds.)

Here’s the exact email I used to solicit partners:

[Subject line]

Partner w/ Jay Levinson & me to change the biz world: Time-sensitive invitation

[Body copy]

Want to

Make the world Greener?

Reduce the amount of BAD marketing out there?

Increase the profits and visibility of your own business?

If you choose (it’s not required), perhaps make some very juicy affiliate commissions of up to $497.50 per sale?

I’ve made a special web page just to tell you about it:


P.S.: Yes, you have my permission to forward this.

OK, so you’re probably wondering how I could offer such large commissions on a book with a $21.95 price tag. Actually, since most sales were funneled through Amazon, BN.com, etc., I didn’t pay any commissions on the book itself. But one of the bonuses I offered was a two-month free-trial membership in my new membership program, the Clean and Green Club. If at the end of the trial period, a member converted to paid membership, that affiliate earned a commission. (Note: This actually did not convert well, so I retooled the offer at a much lower price point, and thus significantly lower commissions. The copy currently posted on that Web page reflects the updated pricing.)

The Upshot

Results? Partnering with Jay and adding these other partnerships means we probably reached at least 5 million people with the launch campaign. There were more than a million exact-match hits on Google for Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green within three weeks of publication, and it sold more copies in the first five weeks than I typically sell of a new book in two years.

Costs to me? Other than my time, only what I paid my assistant to set up the Web pages and emails, and the donation we made to Green America.

My own lists total only about 10,000, so these partnerships added significantly to my exposure, leverage—and sales.

A copywriter/marketing and publishing consultant and a frequent public speaker, Shel Horowitz helps authors, publishers, and entrepreneurs with marketing plans, book jackets, Web site copy, press releases, and the like. For information on the international Business Ethics Pledge he founded, visit business-ethics-pledge.org. To learn more about Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, visit guerrillamarketinggoesgreen.com. To reach all his sites, visit shelhorowitz.com.

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