by Tash Hughes of
time reading marketing books and magazines, and you will
hear of complementary businesses.
covers what a complementary business is, how to identify
them and why you should care about them.
complementary Business is one that does not offer the
same services and products as you (that would be a
competing business!) It does offer things that are
related to your business and that may be of use to your
Sue sells sporting goods through her web site. She has
found three complementary businesses in her local area.
Bob is a tennis coach who also has a web site giving
tennis tips, Mary is a physiotherapist and Frank is a
dietician. Anybody interested in buying sports goods
would potentially be interested in using these other
selling footballs and accessories, however, would be a
competing site for Sue.
complementary businesses for yourself, sit down with a
sheet of paper and a pen. Write down every linked
product or service that you donít offer but that is
related to what you do. Some points to consider:
Donít include things
you are likely to introduce within a year or so.
doesnít mean it has to be in the same field.
For example, you may offer accounting services so
complementary businesses would be those selling
accounting software or calculators and those offering
other business services.
Consider the relevance
of online and offline presence to your business and
Businesses relating to
your personal interests and hobbies donít count unless
that is what your business is based on.
some potential business types, use the yellow pages or
an internet search engine to find some appropriate
businesses. Have a look at a few in each category and
choose ones that suit you in terms of
You now have a
list of complementary businesses that you are prepared
to deal with.
At this stage,
you can use the list to refer your clients as
required. This can be done by adding their URLs to
your links page, mentioning them in your newsletter or
mentioning them when a customer talks about needing that
service or product.
Of course, it
makes sense to contact the businesses and tell them you
are recommending them Ė and asking them to do likewise,
Does it really
help, though? Sporting goods retailer, Sue, found that
using articles from Mary and Frank in her newsletter
increased the number of people wanting the newsletter
and passing it on to friends. Bob and Mary both had
happier customers when they were able to supply tennis
and fitness balls on site via Sue. In other words,
everyone gained from the working relationship between
Once you build a
relationship with some complementary businesses, there
are various ways you can help each other reach potential
Have discounted or
reciprocal advertising arrangements
Swap articles for
newsletters and web sites
Sell a product for each
Barter work from each
Carry business cards to
distribute if the occasion arises
Exchange links and
banners on web sites
Recommend each other to
Work together and have
Share a bulk marketing
exercise (eg direct mailing, seminar, stall at an expo)
for each other (eg when
doing a letter box drop or visiting noticeboards)
material on reverse sides of a flyer to half
within the industry, especially major changes
Review each otherís
products or services
By working with
some complementary businesses, you can increase your
potential client base for much less effort and money
than most marketing methods. The personal
recommendations between businesses are usually more
effective than commercial advertising anyway.
can also find growth and support through complementary
businesses. It makes good business sense to work
together rather than individually, so why not find
some complementary businesses today?
Tash Hughes is
the owner of
Word Constructions and is available to solve all
your business writing problems! From letters to
policies, newsletters to web content, Word Constructions
writes all business documents to your style and