How many of you presently use the old fashioned barter system at your job as a means to secure needed resources without having to spend your limited budgets?


How many of you presently use the old fashioned barter system at your job as a means to secure needed resources without having to spend your limited budgets?

When I worked at Clear Channel, barter was a very easy strategy for us to implement. Our radio stations had valuable advertising time that our clients wanted, and they had valuable resources that Clear Channel wanted. Trades were negotiated that both parties found equitable and the deal was done. I was probably involved in at least one barter contract a week. It saved us a substantial amount of money while allowing us execute a large number of promotions, which ultimately drove ratings and revenue.

In today’s very difficult economic environment, barter is a time test strategy that almost any business can and should consider practicing. Barter doesn’t diminish the value of your product or service. It allows you inexpensive access to a targeted audience.

Every business has a product or service that is valuable to segment of the population. If you didn’t, you’d be out of business. The challenge is figuring out how to leverage your product or service in order to get a needed product or service in return.

When I arrived at Goodwill in 2003, one of the first things I did was identify any assets we could barter to help achieve our strategic marketing objectives while reducing expenses.

It didn’t take long to recognize that we had a very successful contract cleaning service that we could offer to special events around town in exchange for significant grassroots visibility (Cherry Blossom Festival, Taste of Arlington, Marine Corps Marathon, etc). We would then use that event visibility to promote our brand and retail stores. Additionally, we had sound systems in all of our stores that were doing nothing but playing background music for our shoppers. We began integrating commercial radio announcements between songs so that we could offer potential partners a new channel for reaching over 1 million targeted consumers. The cost to us was nothing more than what we were already paying for the satellite music delivery.

Both of these bartering programs have proven highly successful for Goodwill and have now evolved into new revenue streams for us.

When I took over the presidency of the AMADC, we immediately began taking a full inventory of our assets, while at the same time identifying new ones. We then started to negotiate strategic barter (and cash) agreements to help us achieve our aggressive organizational goals. So far, our efforts have generated the desired results for both the AMADC and our partners.

Now barter doesn’t mean that the process is free of costs. There are opportunity costs that must be considered with any trade agreement. Additionally, you may be reducing product inventory that you can no longer sell for cash. But it allows you to maximize capacity which will lower costs, while also finding a use for inventory that may not otherwise be sold.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to begin considering barter as an option. It will make you a more valuable asset and potentially keep your company from closing its doors or eliminating jobs…possibly even yours.