Also known as corporate trading, bartering is the process of exchanging one good or service for another. The process is quite common for marketers and multimedia professionals. In fact, the International Reciprocal Trade Association reported that an estimated 470,000 companies in the United States participate in the barter market. In addition, corporate trade company Active International indicated to Marketing Magazine reports that one-third of small businesses—as well as 65 percent of large corporations in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)—incorporate at least some bartering as part of their marketing initiatives.

Bartering is often done using a system of credits. It provides a way for businesses to drop excess inventory, build positive relationships with other companies, and maintain or even exceed their advertising pace even when budgets are stretched thin. From a marketing perspective, bartering services can help companies maintain a competitive advantage during slow sales periods. The built-in relationship-building aspect of bartering is key, too, especially for modern organizations that still appreciate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. For marketing-specific firms, the obvious option of bartering their services to other businesses in exchange for everything from travel expenses to products and services are a way to keep overhead costs low. Done especially well, and they may even gain referrals and grow the business in the process. For creative services, bartering often allows businesses to “price” their offerings above market value.

Bartering deals take two forms: a one-to-one exchange or a triangulation. Particularly well-suited for small or niche businesses, one-to-one exchanges are common and happen exactly how they sound: Business A proposes a trade of a product or service to Business B, initiated via a bartering platform or a simple phone call. IMA’s event business i.e. the Integrated Marketing Summit (IMS) has entered into numerous barter agreements. Examples include the exchange of marketing support, data, and technology in exchange for sponsorships to our events. In fact, without our barter agreements, we certainly wouldn’t be as successful as we are today. Exchanges that involve triangulation are more complex and involve more than three transactions but can also be beneficial. In short, if you would like some one on one advice about a possible barter opportunities or are interested in bartering with IMA, please feel free to contact us.

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