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What is cross marketing? How it works and examples

July 15, 2021

Some of the main goals of any business are to drive sales and become profitable. 

But the only way a business can achieve this goal is by getting their product or service in front of the right audience. You can’t just hope that people will stumble upon your product and then make a purchase. 

And to get these sales, you need to implement the right strategies. A properly executed sales strategy will increase the number of potential customers that will get to know about your brand and also boost your sales. 

In this article, we will look at cross marketing – a strategy that will help you market your brand to a wider audience. We will see what cross marketing is, how it works, and useful examples to give you insight into how a cross marketing partnership looks like in real life. 

What is cross marketing?

At a fundamental level, cross marketing is a promotional strategy where two or more businesses collaborate to promote their products or services. Cross marketing works because it brings businesses together to help them reach new and broader audiences. It also allows a business to diversify and offer something new to their customers.

How cross marketing works? 

Cross marketing allows brands to collaborate to create joint marketing plans to help them reach their business goals. And cross marketing is most effective when the target audience of the brands involved are similar in terms of needs, income, social status, and age. 

For instance, Louis Vuitton and BMW collaborated to launch the BMW i8. Louis Vuitton designed a four-piece set of bags and suitcases specifically for the new car. This collaboration works because both brands have similar audiences in the same income/social status. Individuals who love BMW cars will most likely want to own Louis Vuitton bags too. As a result of the collaboration, both brands reached new audiences and increased their recognition. 

To fully understand how cross marketing works, here is an overview of the steps brands will take when getting started with a cross marketing campaign:

  • Set your business goals
  • Analyze your target audience 
  • Look for potential partners
  • Create a partnership agreement

Set your business goals

Before you start any collaboration, you need to identify the main goal you want to achieve with the cross marketing campaign. It's also best practice to choose less than three goals. This will allow you to effectively measure whether the collaboration is beneficial to you. Setting a few goals also allows you to focus on reaching the goals without sparing any effort. 

To set the right goals, analyze the key areas your business needs improvement – from increasing brand awareness to driving product sales – and how partnering with another brand can help you solve these needs. When you have goals, you will be able to identify which brands would be the best fit for a marketing partnership. 

Analyze your target audience

Your target audience is the portion of the market that you want to sell your product or service to. The purpose of analyzing your target audience is to help you identify the buyer demographics that will most likely be interested in what you have to offer. 

The more information you have about your target audience, the better you will allocate your marketing resources. It also comes in handy when collaborating with other brands. Target audience analysis helps you discover new audiences for your brand. For instance, a 2018 survey of British female beer drinkers found that male-targeted advertising stops up to 48% of 18-24-year-old women from buying beer. Beer brands overlooking the female audience will lead to them losing potential revenue. So if you are a brand that has analyzed your audience and found that a significant number of them are females, you can partner with a brand that caters to female audiences. 

Here are some effective ways to analyze your audience:

  • Run surveys: Using social media polls or web-based surveys is a simple way to understand your audience. You can ask multichoice questions to quickly get an answer. If you want to collect more data, email surveys work best. This is because you are sending survey questions to people that already have a relationship with your business. They are more likely to fill your survey form and also give detailed responses.
  • Use focus groups: You can run a Q&A session for a small focus group of consumers that fit your ideal customer profile. The individuals that make up the focus group should be a mix between your current customers and people who might purchase in the future. You can run a focus group in person or online. With the data you collect from the focus group research, you will have a stronger understanding of how your audience receives your product and the areas you need to improve to appeal to a wider audience. 
  • Tap existing resources: There are a few online resources that you can use to collect secondary insights to back your primary data – the data you obtained from your own audience. For example, Quantcast allows you to collect real-time data about a website’s psychographics and demographics. 

Look for potential partners

When researching potential partners, look for brands with similar but not identical audiences. It's also best practice to form partners beyond your industry. This allows you to expand your reach to newer audiences. The main thing is that you and your partner's products or services should complement each other. 

The easiest way to find potential partners is to ask your customers about the other products and services they use. You can also ask them if they would like to see you collaborate with any of these brands. Networking events are also a great place to find brands that you can collaborate with.  

You can also check if a brand is interested in cross marketing or has been involved in partnerships before by checking out their Instagram page. Remember not to look at just the number of followers your target partner has. Instead, check out metrics like their audience reach and the level of engagement their posts get. 

Tip: You can use a platform like Intribe to help you easily find brands that are looking to collaborate. On the Intribe platform, you can easily browse brands looking to partner in your area or industry. Join the waitlist.

After your research, reach out to the brands you want to partner with. Before you send an email requesting for partnership, always check the brand’s LinkedIn or website to see if they have a partnership lead. The partnership lead is the best person to get in touch with. If you are sending an email, ensure that you have a valuable offer and give the brand reasons to want to partner with you. 

Create a partnership agreement 

After you have found a brand to run a cross marketing campaign with, the next step is to draw up a partnership agreement. The agreement document should include the time frame of the campaign, expectations from both parties, and the metrics you will use to measure success. If things like rights and funds are involved, it's a good idea that you get the help of a legal professional to draw up the partnership agreement. 

Examples of cross marketing partnerships

Here are examples of brands participating in cross marketing campaigns. 

1. iStock with Invision and Adobe

iStock is a stock image site that partnered with design tools – Invision and Adobe. As a result of the partnership, iStocks photos are readily available for purchase in Invision and Adobe’s app. iStock gets to boost their sales, while users of Invision and Adobe get quick access to quality stock images 

2. Uber and Spotify

UBER and Spotify partnership promotion


Uber and Spotify collaborated to make Spotify music available in Uber rides. Uber integrated Spotify into their system so that riders can control the music they listen to while on the trip. So while the rider is waiting for the Uber to arrive, they are prompted to create a music playlist they can listen to when the trip starts. The partnership gave Spotify access to Uber’s audience and made the waiting experience more enjoyable for Uber’s customers. 

3. Niantic and Starbucks


Two cell phone screens showing examples of the Pokémon Go x Starbucks partnership in action


After the augmented reality game Pokémon Go from Niantic became a massive hit, Starbucks collaborated with the game company. Starbucks released a Pokémon-themed drink and all of Starbucks locations showed up in the game. So players can visit nearby Starbucks to discover Pokémons, join battles with other Pokémon teams, and also pick up Starbucks drinks on the go. The collaboration allowed Starbucks to piggyback off the popularity of the game and drive more sales. It also allowed Niantic to offer Pokémon game players a more enjoyable experience. 

4. Thursday Boot Company and Cobbler’s Choice

Image showing a Cobbler treating a leather boot with Cobbler's choice leather clean

Thursday Boot company sells sophisticated boots and shoes. They partnered with Cobbler’s Choice, a brand that sells premium footwear care products like brushes and leather cleaners. Both brands marketed the product of the other brand to their own audience. This collaboration works well because their products complement one another and appeal to each other’s audience. 

Wrapping up

In this article, we have seen what cross marketing is, how it works, and some examples to help you get started. 

The main thing to note with cross marketing campaigns is that you collaborate with brands that have similar but not identical audiences. Also, do not partner with brands that offer products or services that compete with yours. Instead, partner with brands that have offers that complement yours. 

If you want to increase your brand reach with ease and also connect with other brands looking to collaborate, then check out Intribe