4 people holding up various modes of communication

The Exponential Power of Cross-Promotion

Cross-promotion is an efficient way to breathe life into your communication strategy and, consequently, your well-being program. As consumers, we’re frequently exposed to this technique. In a well publicized example a few years ago, Google™ named its new Android™ operating system KitKat and relied on the Kit Kat® candy bar brand to stimulate interest. Nestlé, in turn, created a series of Kit Kat bars in the shape of Google’s Android mascot. Both companies reported that no money was exchanged in this agreement (techcrunch.com).

Cross-promotion of wellness programs has the potential to be even more targeted, primarily between related programs. And it doesn’t always have to be reciprocal. Biometric screening results, for example, can prompt participants to engage in your health coaching program; your coaching program can promote biometric screenings, but it doesn’t have to. Your objective is to optimize communications by integrating them into your offerings. Almost every message should promote something else to achieve a truly cumulative — or exponential — effect.

Written communications only scratch the surface of cross-promotion opportunities.
Cross-Promotion Ideas

Say you’re conducting the HES HealthTrails program; customize the Web Resources page with links to related resources such as gym membership discounts. And partner with the appropriate person in your organization to get HealthTrails information to employees seeking gym membership discounts. (See what I did there? I used this article to cross-promote HealthTrails. Theoretically, the HealthTrails coordinator implementation guide could also encourage users to subscribe to Well-Being Practitioner.)

Running a stress management program? Customize the enrollment confirmation or weekly update with reminders about other resources, such as your EAP.

Written communications only scratch the surface of cross-promotion opportunities. I maintained collaborative relationships with our company cafeteria managers. When we ran a team-based campaign for eating 5-9 daily produce servings, we offered grab-and-go fruits and veggies, spotlighted with banners and labeling. The campaign promoted healthy menu options, and the new items promoted our campaign.

These cross-promotions were especially powerful because each mode of communication reached a target audience that may not have been tuned in to the other offering. Campaign emails and flyers may have gone unnoticed by cafeteria customers, and some campaign participants may not have otherwise considered that cafeteria item.

There’s no end to the possibilities for cross-promotion in a comprehensive wellness program.

Get Started

Here are 3 tips to get you going:

  • Look for customization opportunities — in your health portal, campaign platform, or referrals by coaches, health plan member services, and your EAP — to promote other programs.
  • Don’t confuse your audience. If you’re customizing a 401(k) enrollment confirmation with a mention of your financial fitness program, for example, the bulk of your message has to be about the 401(k). Postscripts are a proven way of incorporating cross-promotion into emails and letters, without taking your audience off-message. After the confirmation’s closing signature, you could add this: “PS: If you’d like to save for emergencies or upcoming expenses, learn about financial fitness by…”
  • Brainstorm an inventory of potential avenues. Don’t restrict yourself to just print or online, but consider every contact your program has with potential participants. Imprinted giveaway items, T-shirts, surveys, and on-hold phone messaging all present cross-promotion chances. In fact, spoken messages — like describing a healthy eating web module when introducing a weight management lunch ’n learn speaker — can be among your most effective.

No communication opportunity should go unused. Be creative in your use of cross-promotion and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to attract participants.


Bob MerbergBob Merberg
Bob Merberg is an independent consultant with 20+ years in managing employee well-being programs. He specializes in helping employers increase engagement and health outcomes through innovative programs, communication, workplace environment, and organization development strategies. Bob’s well-being program evaluation results have been featured at wellness conferences and in various media outlets.

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