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Yesterday my business colleague and friend gave me some great ideas on no or low cost ways of expanding my market reach.

Her husband and a partner opened a small business about ten years ago that’s grown into a successful enterprise.   They started out by installing liners in the beds of pick-up trucks for truck owners and have expanded that business to include being the preferred installer for all (but one – and they’re working on him!) of the dealerships in their regional area. What a success story.

They grew, first by doing quality work at a reasonable price. They thrived by understanding that when you market your customer’s businesses they will reciprocate.

As she explained the concept to me I visualized that in her husband’s shop he has flyers, business cards, and perhaps discount coupons, for the dealerships. In turn, the dealerships have a stock of his brochures they display. Since they’re already doing business with each other, it goes without saying that they’re willing to provide referrals.

My friend, who has a marketing background, took the concept further and began brainstorming other scenarios … if a business is in a strip mall – look for ways to reciprocally market the other businesses in that mall. That just makes business sense. The more successful businesses in the mall, the more traffic and the more potential customers for your business.

She went even further and talked about local business shows that have themes, such as home shows or bridal shows or craft shows. Participating in one of those shows isn’t just about meeting potential customers for a direct sale. Take the opportunity to meet other business owners who have complimentary businesses and strike agreements to market each other’s products or services.

Regardless of the business you’re in, you can look for ways today to strike up a reciprocal marketing agreement with another business.