The secret of free advertising is making your friends look better.

What held true in your college years apparently still works wonders in marketing today. The halo effect of hanging around with the right people and making them look good tends to rub off on lucky you.

We’re all being asked to do more with less – we have less people, less money, and even less time than we used to have – so finding smart ways to get your advertising for less (or for nothing) is time well spent. I recall seeing a post some months back describing how a local barbershop in Texas got half its fairly small print ad budget paid for by a local beer distributor and it shook a few ideas loose worth sharing.

When Plantronics first entered Verizon Wireless stores, the first discussion I had as vice president of channel marketing was with their corporate marketing people – not the merchants who bought our stuff.

As their push was to ensure Verizon was positioned as complying with hands-free legislation, not to mention their desire to increase the number of accessories they sold with every activation, I put the then-new M135 headset in the advertising manager’s hands with one request: I asked that this product, in its iconic electric blue color, be in every one of Verizon’s upcoming ads. They said they’d do it. And Verizon became the company’s largest customer, surpassing all the call center dealers and corporate account players.

We did the same thing in the enterprise space with partner Avaya, whose unified communications capabilities in 2004 or so were interesting but not terribly convincing on their own – but when married to a wireless headset in the office, these same features became bloody productive. Who needs voice dialing when you’re sitting in front of your phone, for example – but when I’m in the conference room a hundred yards away, it becomes a productivity tool I’ll quickly learn I can’t live without.

Playing the role of the parasite means making your host look great.

Find ways to make their selling proposition work harder – with your stuff.

Explore the power of 2: what you and they can do together that neither of you can do alone.

Put all the wood behind the arrow: when you get the opportunity to leverage other people’s money, don’t let the initiative stand on its own. Put everything else you can behind it.

Today, we see the same playing out across the iVerse, with iPad and iPhone apps becoming known because they are shown in the newest ads featuring the hardware.

In short, there’s a great future in knowing how to spend other people’s money!