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Comarketing Is Helping These SBOs Reach New Audiences While Saving Money

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Comarketing Is Helping These SBOs Reach New Audiences While Saving Money

  • Four small business owners say “comarketing” has helped them grow new audiences and boost sales. 
  • Comarketing — where multiple companies market their products together — is a low-cost strategy that can be even more effective than traditional marketing.
  • For both companies to benefit equally, the campaign should be authentic and not appear too promotional.
  • This article is part of “Marketing for Small Business,” a series exploring the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs to earn new customers and grow their business.

When Talia Boone launched her fresh-flower delivery service, Postal Petals, in 2020, she didn’t have a marketing budget. So to spread the word about her company, she partnered with other small businesses to “comarket.” 

“Just the nature of being small, we have to be creative about the ways we introduce our products and services to new audiences,” Boone told Insider. By comarketing, she’s also able to support other small businesses. “We start to grow natively by collaborating and working together.”

Comarketing refers to two or more businesses “collaborating on a joint promotional campaign,” according to the US Chamber of Commerce. This might include cobranded content marketing campaigns, collaborative social media posts, event or content sponsorships, or affiliate marketing.

Boone, who’s based in Los Angeles, works with “up-and-coming small minority- and women-centered businesses” on cobranded events and social media giveaways, such as a recent wellness workshop with the nursery The Plant Chica and the Black Women’s Yoga Collective

“It’s thinking about ways that we can collaborate with other small business owners who have similar offerings and figuring out ways to package our services or products to amplify our collective and respective messages,” she said, adding that comarketing had helped her increase her social media following and engagement.

Comarketing offers many benefits to small businesses 

Comarketing can help small businesses save money, stretch their marketing budgets, build a stronger brand identity, and grow customer awareness. 

“We’ve found it to be valuable to us, to our retailers, and to our customers,” Charles Negaro Jr., the CEO of Chabaso Bakery, a wholesale bakery in New Haven, Connecticut, told Insider. “It’s a smart use of our time, and it works with our budget.”

Chabaso has partnered with cheese companies and olive-oil brands on in-store displays and Instagram recipe campaigns.

Employees contribute to the comarketing campaign with recipe development and social media posts. Then the company hires a photographer, Negaro said. “Our marketing dollars are human-labor dollars, so we try to find creative ways to collaborate with people,” he said.

Emily Merrell

Emily Merrell, founder of Six Degrees Society

Emily Merrell



Comarketing also enables businesses to help each other. Emily Merrell, the founder of the networking company Six Degrees Society, and Lexie Smith, the founder of the public-relations agency ThePRBar, met at a conference in 2020 and decided to collaborate on training programs for coaching businesses, which they cross-promoted on their own social media channels. 

This eventually led the pair to start a company, Ready Set Coach, focused on coaching people with coaching businesses. Now the three organizations market collaboratively by amplifying one another’s messaging and hosting social media events. 

Comarketing is “one of the most important things that small businesses should be doing,” Merrell said, adding: “You grow so much faster. Rising tides raise all ships.” 

4 ways to make comarketing work for your small business

1. Set goals for your comarketing effort

Successful comarketing depends on businesses knowing what they want to get out of the partnership, Boone said. For instance, businesses might center their efforts on increasing social media followers, driving sales, or reaching new customers. 

“It’s important to be really thoughtful, intentional, in identifying what our ROI is, and then essentially crafting the campaign around that so that we’re able to realize those goals,” she said, referring to a return on investment. “It’s effective from a financial standpoint.” 

From hosting cobranded giveaways, Postal Petals has increased newsletter sign-ups and gained customers. Besides the time and effort it takes to create campaigns, Boone said, the only costs she incurs are the items she gives away.

2. Connect with like-minded small businesses

Alignment is crucial when choosing other small businesses to partner with, Smith said. Businesses should comarket when they have similar audiences, coordinating products, or comparable missions. 

Lexie Smith

Lexie Smith, founder of ThePRBar

Lexie Smith



Since their audiences overlap, Smith said working with Merrell has helped them expand their “top funnel.” 

“There are now three entry points and three different categories that can funnel people into our brands,” she said, referring to their individual businesses and Ready Set Coach, the one they started together. 

Small businesses should start with their existing networks and ask for recommendations, Boone said. She’s also reached out directly to brands that she wants to work with and had companies reach out to her with partnership proposals. 

“You’re really coming to them and saying, ‘Hey, how can we explore opportunities to support each other?'” she said. Postal Petals often themes their social media collaborations and has worked with skincare and candle companies for self-care giveaways, for instance. 

Boone declines comarketing requests from other small businesses when they don’t make sense, like when a company’s products or mission don’t align with hers. 

3. Make sure everyone is on board with the campaign

Small businesses should work together on creating comarketing campaigns. Smith said it’s a good idea to put responsibilities, duties, and deliverables in writing “so there are clear expectations.” 

When working with other businesses on social media marketing, Boone said everyone agrees on a timeframe. They contribute photos and product information, and then create posts that align the companies’ assets and messaging. 

“We typically work together to build it out,” she said. Then, the organizations approve posts before they go live. Each company posts the content on its channels. 

Chabaso handles many aspects of comarketing in-house. Negaro said his company comes up with recipes using other brands’ items, photographs them, and creates recipe cards with QR codes to place on supermarket shelves. The recipes and photos are also posted on social media. 

4. Create campaigns that resonate with audiences 

Smith said small businesses should focus on being authentic, offering value to audiences, and not appearing too promotional in comarketing campaigns. 

She and Merrell do this by sharing similar topics across their brands’ social media channels, but slightly tweaking the messaging to appeal to each audience. 

“We’ve just learned to be flexible,” Boone said. “It can’t be all the things that work best for us. It has to be what’s best for all the brands involved.” 

Successful comarketing sometimes takes experimentation and trial and error. Still, Boone said it’s an effective way for small businesses to expand their marketing reach, even when they don’t have a big budget.  

“Most small businesses just can’t afford traditional marketing,” she said. “So, we have to be very creative about growing our audiences and our networks. Collaborating with other brands is a really efficient and effective way to do it.” 



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How Nvidia Pivoted From Graphics Card Maker to AI Chip Giant

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How Nvidia Pivoted From Graphics Card Maker to AI Chip Giant

A decade ago, Nvidia was a major graphics card maker, vying with competitors like AMD and Intel for dominance. Now it’s an AI giant with 70% to 95% of the market share for AI chips, and the brains of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It’s also the best-performing stock with the highest return in the past 25 years.

Why did Nvidia invest in AI chips over 10 years ago, ahead of the competition? CEO Jensen Huang and board member Mark Stevens, Nvidia’s two largest individual shareholders, talked to Sequoia Capital partner Roelof Botha to explain what Botha called “one of the most remarkable business pivots in history.”

Nvidia’s original product was 3D graphics cards for PC games, but company leaders noticed by the mid-2000s that the PC market was hitting a growth limit.

Related: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Turned Down a Merger Offer in the Company’s Early Days, According to Insiders. Here’s Why.

“We felt we were always gonna be boxed into the PC gaming market and always knocking heads with Intel if we didn’t develop a brand new market that nobody else was in,” Stevens explained.

Jensen Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer of Nvidia. Photographer: Lionel Ng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

That need for a new market intersected with a product Nvidia already had on hand: its graphics processor unit, or GPU, which could be used to power tasks outside of gaming. Researchers at universities across the world began exploring the graphics cards, eventually building advanced computers with them.

Related: Is It Too Late to Buy Nvidia? Former Morgan Stanley Strategist Says ‘Buy High, Sell Higher.’

Huang recalled meeting a quantum chemist in Taiwan who showed him a closet with a “giant array” of Nvidia’s GPUs on its shelves; house fans were rotating to keep the system cool.

“He said, ‘I built my own personal supercomputer.’ And he said to me that because of our work… he’s able to do his work in his lifetime,” Huang said.

Other researchers, like Meta AI chief Yann LeCun in New York, began reaching out to Nvidia about the computing power of its chips. Nvidia began considering the AI market when AI had yet to enter the mainstream and was a “zero billion dollar market” or a market that had yet to materialize.

“There was no guarantee that AI would ever really emerge because, keep in mind, AI had had many stops and starts over the last 40 years,” Stevens said. “I mean, AI has been around as a computer science concept for decades. But it had never really taken off as a huge market opportunity.”

Related: Nvidia Is ‘Slowly Becoming the IBM of the AI Era,’ According to the Leader of a $2 Billion AI Startup

Huang and other company leaders still believed in AI and decided to invest billions in the tech in the 2010s.

“This was a giant pivot for our company,” Huang said. “The company’s focus was steered away from its core business.”

Huang highlighted the extra cost, talent, and skills Nvidia had to account for with the pivot, as it affected the entire company. It took 10 to 15 years of effort, but that business decision led to Nvidia powering the AI revolution with an early ChatGPT partnership.

“Every CEO’s job is supposed to look around corners,” Huang said. “You want to be the person who believes the company can achieve more than the company believes it can.”

Related: How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

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Nvidia Makes Up Half of Mark Stevens’ $8.8 Billion Net Worth

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Nvidia Makes Up Half of Mark Stevens' $8.8 Billion Net Worth

What if you invested in Nvidia 30 years ago, before it went public, and held on?

Venture capitalist Mark Stevens is currently one of Nvidia’s top individual shareholders, second only to CEO Jensen Huang. He invested in the AI chipmaker in 1993 as a new partner at Sequoia Capital. Stevens has been on Nvidia’s board for most of the company’s history, serving from 1993 to 2006, and then again from 2008 to the present. Nvidia went public in 1999.

Related: Is It Too Late to Buy Nvidia? Former Morgan Stanley Strategist Says ‘Buy High, Sell Higher.’

“There’s at least three times I can think of where we almost lost the company,” Stevens told Bloomberg. “Jensen has his famous saying of, ‘We’re 30 days away from going out of business,’ which is almost laughable today, but in the ’90s it was the reality.”

No one anticipated Nvidia going from a $8 million or $9 million Series A to a $3 trillion market cap today, Stevens said.

According to a Friday Bloomberg report, the over four million Nvidia shares Stevens owns are now worth about $4.7 billion and comprise over half of his $8.8 billion fortune. The rest of his net worth comes from his 6% ownership stake in the Golden State Warriors and other investments made throughout his venture capital career.

Related: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Turned Down a Merger Offer in the Company’s Early Days, According to Insiders. Here’s Why.

Though the AI boom has propelled Nvidia stock to new heights, Stevens says that it wasn’t easy to hold on in the early days. The chip market was crowded with competitors, and it was expensive to keep the best Silicon Valley talent.

Mark Stevens looking through a 360-degree display. Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Nvidia currently leads the AI chip market, with tech leaders like Microsoft and Google believed to be among its biggest customers. Those clients could one day be Nvidia’s competitors, joining other chipmakers like Intel and AMD.

Huang said in June that Nvidia’s strategy in response to rising competition was to make AI chips with the “lowest total cost of ownership.” Tens of thousands of Nvidia’s chips are the brains of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Huang has the largest individual stake in the company, with 3.8% or over 934 million shares. He cashed in on $169 million worth of shares in June. Other Nvidia executives and directors have sold shares worth more than $700 million since the start of the year.

Nvidia has seen over 3,000% stock growth in the past five years, which has made early investors wealthy. Some long-term employees are reportedly in “semi-retirement” based on stock grants alone.

Related: Elon Musk Praises Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s Leadership Style: ‘Absolutely the Right Attitude’

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NLRB Drops Expanded Joint Employer Appeal

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NLRB Drops Expanded Joint Employer Appeal

The proposed expanded joint employer rule, which an International Franchise Association (IFA)-led coalition challenged in federal court, was defeated Friday when The National Labor Relations Board dropped its appeal of an earlier ruling in favor of the coalition.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

“This announcement means that the latest attempt to implement joint employer is finally finished and represents a landmark victory for franchise small businesses in communities across America,” Matt Haller, IFA president and CEO, said in a statement. “The franchise business model is the best vehicle for American workers to generate upward mobility and create small business ownership from all walks of life. Make no mistake: while today’s news means the current threat is behind us, IFA will remain vigilant against any attempts to target the franchise model or our members.”

Related: Find Out Which Brands Have Ranked on the Franchise 500 for Longest, Earning a Spot In our New ‘Hall of Fame’

Some form of the Joint Employer Rule has existed for years, but in 2023, the NLRB expanded it in a way that directly impacted the franchise industry. Under the proposed expanded version of the rule, two companies — say, McDonald’s and a McDonald’s franchisee — could more easily be considered “joint employers” of the same employees. That would make McDonald’s legally liable for any labor violation committed by one of its franchisees, even though McDonald’s itself did not hire and does not manage that employee.

Although this is the end of this attempt to expand the rule, attorney Jim Paretti of labor relations law firm Littler Mendelson recently told Entrepreneur what the NLRB’s options are moving forward. “The short answer is that the board can keep trying to write a rule,” Paretti said. “They can go back to the drawing board, try again and write something more narrow.”

Read More: Bloomberg Law

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