In today’s high-tech world, the term “barter” sounds like something from the days of the Pony Express and telegrams. But the truth of the matter is that barter can help even the most high-tech businesses. In fact, some of today’s best-known companies use barter as a means of advertising. If your business if suffering through a downturn or is low on customers, consider familiarizing yourself with barter programs to increase visibility in the marketplace.
A barter exchange can be anything that involves an exchange of goods or services. A local restaurant might offer a free coffee to anyone who brings in a receipt from a nearby retail store. Or a theme park can offer $10 off admission for anyone who brings in a certain brand of soft drink. The idea is that cross-promotion helps attract new customers and increase brand awareness for both parties involved.
There are many benefits to implementing a barter program. First and foremost, a well-implemented program can expand your customer base and the visibility of your business. Second, barter is an inexpensive form of advertising. Usually the only cost involved in barter is a customer discount on goods or services.
Setting up a barter program can be simple if you have the right network. Reach out to relevant business partners that you speak to regularly. Treat the barter conversation like you would any sales pitch; remember that you are pitching an idea that benefits both parties. Think carefully about the program that you set up. Just because a fellow business owner is a close colleague doesn’t mean that his service will provide a complimentary product to your customers.
If you do not have anyone in your immediate network that you can set up an exchange with, consider joining a professional barter organization. The International Reciprocal Trade Association, or IRTA, provides a professional network for businesses that are looking to barter. The organization also provides tips for barter in a modern world. If you find that you are interested in expanding barter beyond customer-facing programs, there are opportunities to exchange supplies and business services as well.
Although barter is a great advertising tool to use during rough times, don’t rule out barter during strong financial times as well. Even the best businesses can benefit from inexpensive customer acquisition. Become a pro at barter and you can ensure that your business remains visible at all times.