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One Good Turn

By Jennifer Stewart
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2004

It's a funny thing about the year 2000 - the technology may have changed - but people haven't. So even though you're communicating with people from around the globe and doing business in cyberspace, you can still rely on the same methods of doing business that your grandparents used with their neighbours; the same methods that people have been using for thousands of years in fact.

Bartering and swapping were the very first commercial techniques - you swapped your excess fish for someone else's fishing nets, or your excess grain for flint knives and so on. And the motivation wasn't just for economic gain, it was to build and cement relationships between people. Here are some ways you can use these traditional methods to increase your business:

Step 1
Think of what you have to offer in exchange for goods or services that you need to market your business:
· put up free advertisements in your newsletter or on your site
· offer free consultations in your area of expertise
· give away one of your products
· offer a discount to buyers referred by your partner

Step 2
Approach businesses. Choose those businesses that are non-competitive but complimentary:
· if you're in public relations, offer a local publisher free advice on increasing readership in exchange for free advertising space
· if you're a web designer, offer to update web sites of selected sites if they will post an ad and recommendation for your site
· if you publish flyers, offer a discount if a short ad for your services is printed on every flyer
· if you sell software, choose someone who works in the field, then give your partner a free copy in exchange for a review that can be published on your site
· if you sell real estate, partner with a removalist and offer all your clients a complete service for their move (discounted moving costs and discounted agent's fees)

Step 3
Formalise your arrangement with a simple agreement - in writing. Email makes it possible to instantly send these to each other and to save them so that each side has a record. Set out clearly the obligations for each partner and include full names and contact details for each party. Be clear about the length of time the agreement will be in force.

Step 4
Keep track of programs - there are so many tracking devices around these days, that there's no excuse for not knowing which methods are working and which aren't.

Here's an example:
( This tracking system (there's a free, trial version) lets you find out exactly how your campaigns are faring.

If you don't want to set up something like this, simply track your email and site referrers the easy way by adding something like the following to the address or URL: (?subject=xyz)

Your email will come through with whatever comes after = in the subject line. By changing the words or code used each time you set up a new barter partner, you'll be able to see which ones get the best results.

URL: ( You can set up a special page for your partner to direct people to and then your server's stats should let you see which sites have referred visitors to your site, and the URL tracking code you've put in (?subject=xyz) will let you follow these. Note: the letters/numbers included after the ? have no effect on the actual address.

So use the barter system to increase your own business, to help your partner increase business and to build relationships.

About the Author
Jennifer Stewart has had her own web-based writing business ( since 1998. She offers Home Study tutorials and professional writing services and has written extensively for clients around the world. Her articles have appeared in ezines throughout the web and in off-line business magazines. Subscribe to free, weekly writing tips:___________________________________


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