Symbiotic Marketing Collective: The Ultimate Guide

What the heck is a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?

We’ll give you everything you need to know about what a Symbiotic Marketing Collective, how to join or start one, how it works, and more.

Simple Example: A local plumber, HVAC tech, electrician, maid service, handyman, and chimneysweep get together, and share email lists and cross-market for each other.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    1. What is a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    2. Why care? What’s in it for me? How will this grow my business?
    3. Local Marketing AI + Other Trends: Opportunities, Threats
  2. How a Symbiotic Marketing Collective Works
    1. Balancing Contribute vs Consume: Software solutions
    2. Start or Join? That depends…
    3. Finding a Symbiotic Marketing Collective near you
  3. Starting a Symbiotic Marketing Collective
    1. Starting a new one if one doesn’t exist, or there’s no space available.
    2. Gather Your Team
    3. Set Rules and Guidelines
    4. Create a Shared Database
    5. Upload Client Lists
    6. Plan and Implement Marketing Strategies
    7. Monitor and Adjust
    8. Offline Networking Groups: BNI, Le Tip, etc.
  4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
    1. How does a Symbiotic Marketing Collective work?
    2. What are the benefits of a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    3. Who can participate in a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    4. How can I start my own Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    5. What if I dislike a provider in my Group?
  5. What does a Symbiotic Marketing Collective Cost?
    1. Free, vs Not Free.
    2. Symbiotic Marketing Collective Software
    3. Symbiotic Marketing Collective Done-for-you Services
  6. Common Concerns and Mitigation Strategies
    1. Privacy and Legal Compliance
    2. Incompatible Businesses
    3. Unequal Benefits
  7. Conclusion
    1. Your First 90 Days

What is a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?

A Symbiotic Marketing Collective is a win-win strategy wherein local business owners come together and share their respective customer bases to create a larger, more diverse marketing audience.

These are typically complimentary non-competitive businesses. This has been happening informally since the invention of specialized labor, but this brings high tech to it – email blasts, SMS or phone marketing, referral tracking, and now AI chat. Some chapters create local events – such as pooling invitations to a company picnic or backyard BBQ.

By combining client lists, businesses can leverage each other’s network to promote their products or services, thereby multiplying their reach and potential market share.

TIP: A Symbiotic Marketing Collective  will also “Circumvent the Tollbooth”: you don’t need to pay Google, Facebook, etc to make this work. It can be very cost efficient marketing.

Why Care? What’s in it for me?

In short, more local well qualified clients. In this era of spam blockers and do not call lists, this is a great way to meet more local consumers near you. Done correctly, this is legally compliant, and empowers the end clients to keep control, while meeting a great vendor (you!?) who serves their area and comes pre-vetted.

Groups that are fully up to speed perform very well. This is typically a very low cost / high yield / highly efficient form of marketing.

Local Marketing AI + Other Trends:

There are also a few trends that are making the marketing landscape more winner-take-most: “zero click searches” and AI including ChatGPT.

Due to AI, “Map Packs” are shrinking. In years past, Google might have shown 5 or 7 results on a map, and now more common is 3. This means if you were ranked #4 on the google-map-pack, you don’t even show up any more on most searches, and thus won’t get seen or get leads. As the technology becomes more conversational, this will probably reduce further.

Another trend is that Google wants to “own” the human attention of a shopper, and keep them on-page, so they are more likely to click their ads, which makes them billions per year. Top-of-funnel early-stage questions are more likely to be answered via FAQ sections, called a “zero click result” because if the searcher previously would have clicked through to your website to learn about some topic, they now just stay on google. Zero click results are up dramatically.

Solution: Don’t rely on Google for all your business. “Circumvent the Tollbooth” is usually the first goal (i.e. capture a lead) for local services marketing.

How a Symbiotic Marketing Collective works

The super short version:

  1. Pool your contacts and marketing leads with symbiotic businesses. If you use Symbiotic Marketing Collective Software, you won’t be able to see not-your-clients and thus there’s no privacy violations or concerns. You’ll have some metrics, but not details, until the contact actually becomes a sales lead. Once they do, they you’ll have a lot of data with no effort from the homeowner, subject to their approval.
  2. Start marketing: email blasts, to start, but ideally multi-channel.

How to actually run a symbiotic marketing collective – The day to day:

  1. Members import or auto-sync their CRMs or contacts to a central hub.
  2. Marketing is then scheduled out, which can be more than just emails – it can be retargeting pixels, SMS and phone campaigns, in-person live events, active cross promotion – whatever works for you. That said, starting with email is a good first step.

A common problem: Ability, Tech Skills, Focus:

As you might expect, skills vary widely. An awesome plumber might not be super tech savvy and want to deal with things like email list cleanup, de-duplication and validation of email bounces, “lead enrichment” etc – and that’s where we can help. We can deal with all that for you if needed.

A common problem: Idea to Done

In the past, this would have to be done manually, and was frankly pretty rare: a few vendors might get together and as a group, hire an agency. An upside to agency is there’s one clear project owner to gather the stories and send out the emails, SMSs, plan the blog posts, plan the live events, actively cross-promote within-group for referrals.

SwiftCloud is in private beta on software that automates portions of this, and the other parts are done by our agency services staff.

Like the idea and in a hurry? Register for our video-on-demand to join a group at

A common concern: Contribute vs. Consume

There are a few ways to handle asymmetric contribution vs usage. A brand new business with zero clients may have less to contribute than a large experienced carpet cleaning business with tens of thousands of clients. How you want to handle that is up to your group, there’s no right or wrong.

The best attitude is asking how can we grow the pie? How can our group totally dominate our little area?

Realtors usually all want leads – but they know people, and see home-turnover, which leads to needing other services, so if if they might seem to get


  1. Recommended: We’re all close enough. If you have plenty of business, and just want to add marketing efficiency – more clients for less spend – then one option is simply take the attitude of “it’ll all come out in the wash”. This is ideal if the core businesses who join are of a roughly similar size and tech skills. Note: Size isn’t everything; some clients are more valuable than others. Generally, we recommend growing the pie.

For those still feeling the scarcity, there other options, but this brings more complexity and friction.

  1. Rev Share. If one party brings a lot more audience, you can optionally create a revenue sharing agreement. This can get complex too – solar leads might be more valuable than one-off home organization.
  2. Contribute other skills. If the group feels like a party is getting more than they bring to the table, they can contribute in other ways – active social promotion, plan live events. How many more deals do you need to get for all this to make sense? That’s all that really matters to most: how do we grow the pie?
  3. Restrict reach, or “column space” or data match. Example: they bring 200 contacts, but you have 20,000. If you don’t want to do one of the above, you could just take their 200 and match them back with another 200, so it’s win-win. They double their list size, and the group grows. This may be a way to “stick a toe in the water” with someone you don’t yet know well. This can be handled via software and tagging. Or you can send to your list of 20,200 but give them reduced mentions in the email newsletter, or less “screen time”.

Find or start?

If you have a local Symbiotic Marketing Collective near you, that’s an obvious first step to just join the existing one. Search our free Symbiotic Marketing Collective Directory first.

Symbiotic Marketing Collective Directory

The directory will get published soon. Assume your area is open for now, and we can help you get started. Whenever it makes sense, we’ll try to connect you to an existing group, but due to asymmetric demand, certain industries are guaranteed to sell out early.

If there’s not one near you, start one up! It’s easy. You probably already have a few professional colleagues you refer business to and get referrals from already. You only need 2 people to start, and from there, others will join you.

Starting a Symbiotic Marketing Collective

Easiest: Register at to view our video and start your chapter.

Option 2: Find businesses yourself you want to partner with, figure out who will be the “data custodian”, then create the schedule of events, typically starting with email blasts, blog posts, cross-posted social-media shares. Because businesses usually have their data in different formats, and rightfully should be protective on their client data, it is common for this to run into some issues ranging from data cleanup, to formatting to potential extraction. Nonetheless, if you’re determined to do it on your own, it’s possible.

TIP: For agencies, or in-house marketers who want to take this on, we have options – reach out to us. We are in beta on a suite designed for this.

The steps to create a Symbiotic Marketing Collective are

  1. Set the area and focus. Example: Beverly Hills, CA home services, but it could be something like Wedding Services, or Senior Care or B2B services. Upside to being founder is you get (1.) first tag on the data, and (2.) to define the rules, area, etc. Define clear guidelines on privacy, data usage, marketing strategies, and conflict resolution.
  2. Import your data. Usually this is export a CSV list then import into SwiftCloud’s software, or other Data Custodian system. Using a secure platform, create a shared database for storing client lists, ensuring it complies with all privacy and data protection laws.
  3. Setup Synchronization: the last thing you want is more work. Ideally, any new client you add each week automatically flows into the Data Repository. This can be done with API connections in most cases, or middleware “API Bridge” systems like Zapier or SwiftGlue. Related to this: tagging leads that come to you, referrals from your team!
  4. Set a Cadence. Typical might be a monthly email newsletter, and weekly social media cross-posts, and a quarterly live in-person event.
  5. Start Simple & Grow with Time. Over time, exciting more advanced options such as image ad retargeting, or catalyst marketing can be planned (example: job promotion, kids graduating = change to housing). 1:1 meetings with your group to take a deep dive and understand them is recommended.
  6. Monitor & steadily improve. Analytics will yield info like open rates, click through rates, and most importantly, actual leads generated and closed paid transactions attributed to your team. We regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing strategies and adjust as needed to maximize benefits for all participants.

Symbiotic Marketing Collective FAQs:

  1. How does a Symbiotic Marketing Collective work?
    Participating businesses upload their client lists into a shared database, respecting all privacy and legal regulations. They then create marketing campaigns that target this collective client pool, effectively promoting each other’s businesses.
  2. What are the benefits of a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    Benefits include increased marketing reach, cost savings on marketing expenses, and the opportunity to leverage each other’s client base for mutual growth.
  3. Who can participate in a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    Any local business owner interested in expanding their reach and willing to share their client list for collective marketing efforts can participate.
  4. How can I start my own Symbiotic Marketing Collective?
    To start, gather a group of like-minded business owners, create a shared database respecting all privacy laws, and upload your client lists. From there, develop and implement collective marketing strategies.
  5. Is this like BNI, or LeTip, or Chamber of Commerce?
    Those systems foster offline connection; this is a much more tactical and focused program designed to generate clients. It is especially ideal for a group of similar-sized owner-involved business to help get more results from less effort.

Common Concerns and Mitigation Strategies:

  1. Privacy and Legal Compliance: All participating businesses must adhere strictly to data protection and privacy laws, ensuring client information is used solely for the agreed-upon marketing purpose. Businesses must obtain client consent when necessary.
  2. Incompatible Businesses: Businesses within the collective should be non-competing and complementary. This way, customers are more likely to be interested in the products or services of other businesses in the collective.
  3. Unequal Benefits: To avoid disproportionate benefits, the collective should monitor and evaluate marketing efforts regularly to ensure fairness and equal distribution of opportunities.

In conclusion, the Symbiotic Marketing Collective is a revolutionary concept that empowers local businesses to leverage their collective strength for mutual growth. By pooling their client lists and marketing for each other, businesses can enhance their reach, save costs, and thrive in today’s competitive market. Let’s embrace this collaborative era of marketing and redefine success together.

Want our help setting up a Symbiotic Marketing Collective?

Learn more about our options at