Partnership marketing is the definition of a win-win situation. When you join forces with complementary businesses, you can expand your reach to new audiences. You can offer both new and existing customers valuable products and services.
We’ve spoken to several business leaders to determine how they’ve successfully launched partner marketing campaigns.
Step #1: Align Your Values and Goals
Forbes claims that the first thing you must do when beginning a partnership marketing campaign is to ensure that the organizations you’re partnering with share your values and want to work toward the same goals.
Each organization can have its own goals, but none of these should contradict or jeopardize its partner’s goals.
Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce, explains how important it is for businesses to share similar goals when they partner with one another.
“It’s essential to communicate what you’re both working toward,” Candee begins. “If you’re going to market to your respective audiences effectively, you have to agree on what you’re offering customers. One of the reasons Bounce has so many partners around the globe is because we agree on our primary goal: to offer affordable luggage storage for travelers. If you don’t start with a common objective, you won’t agree on how to promote your services, and you won’t reap the benefits of a good partnership.”
Finding businesses that share goals similar to your own is a great place to start looking for partnership opportunities. Once all involved in the partnership agree on values and goals, the next step is to determine what unique products and services to provide customers.
Step #2: Link Offerings
When you step into partnership marketing, you have to decide what you’ll offer your customers. What will each company provide, and how can you promote it? Ayal Ebert, Co-Founder of Particle, advises how to choose products and services
“Every time we partner with another organization or individual, we make sure that the products each of us are offering aren’t too similar,” Ebert states. “They should complement one another, but they shouldn’t compete. If they do, all you’re doing is dividing customer loyalties. It’s confusing to your audience. When you’re partnering with other businesses, think about what your customer base needs from you and what your partner could offer them to sweeten the deal. For example, we provide skincare and hair care for men. Instead of partnering with a business that offers the same thing, we could partner with a nutrition company that provides supplements specifically designed for men. We could bundle a few selected products at a discounted price. That way, both of our businesses are supporting each other and our respective audiences without directly competing.”
Nathalie Walton, Co-Founder and CEO of Expectful, explains how linking products and services can benefit your customers.
She states, “We believe in holistic care for our clients, meaning we don’t cater to just one area of wellness. From our own experience as expecting and new mothers, we recognize that our clients need many resources. When we partner with experts, we capitalize on their strengths and support client health through offerings like meditation and fitness classes, sleep and fertility coaches, and lactation consultants. Each one of these services is wonderful on its own, but our clients are better supported when they’re offered together.”
Walton identifies the importance of providing customers with valuable products and services. When you partner with other organizations, you want your collaboration to benefit your customers and your business.
Seb Evans, Co-Founder of Banquist, describes how Banquist has capitalized on partnerships with master chefs to provide exceptional services to customers.
“Not only do our customers receive top-quality ingredients for meals, which in itself is valuable, but they get to learn how to prepare these meals from remarkable chefs. We offer both individual lessons and multi-lesson courses, all of which allow customers to expand their cooking skills and to connect with loved ones. It’s our partnerships that enable us to offer such a well-rounded service. Any time you partner with a professional or an organization, you have the chance to provide your customers with more than a standalone service or product. You can offer them a whole experience,” says Evans.
After you’ve established goals and determined what products you’ll offer in your partnership, the next step of the marketing campaign is to cross-promote.
Step #3: Cross-Promote
Forbes recommends that organizations identify the best ways to promote their partners. Cross-promotion will strengthen the partnership and provide clarity to customers.
Jim Beard, COO of BoxGenie, describes how the custom packaging company cross-promotes with its partners to benefit all businesses.
“After you’ve established your partners, you can use product results to demonstrate to potential customers that you have a valuable and trustworthy product,” Beard states. “One of the ways we do this on Box Genie’s website is by listing some of our partners and by posting their reviews. These reviews are promotions of our product because they prove our product works, and they’re also promotions for our partners. Visitors to our website may be familiar with our partners, so listing our partners makes visitors more likely to use our product. On the other hand, since our customers trust our brand, they’re likely to look into our partners. Cross-promotion ensures your brand reaches a wider audience, and it can also positively impact sales.”
Jeremy Gardner, CEO of MadeMan, claims that cross-promotion is an integral part of MadeMan’s brand.
“We have built long-term partnerships with other brands that are committed to the health and wellness of men. Some of these partners focus on fitness, others on hair care or hygiene. Our product is for men’s skincare, but our entire brand is about being a better man, which goes beyond skin care. We promote our partners alongside our product because we believe in offering our customers ways to improve and be supported in all areas of their lives. We also highlight our celebrity endorsements and promote their brands. Cross-promotion is like a symbiotic relationship, each brand supports the other, and it uplifts the whole message as a result,” says Gardner.
To effectively cross-promote and have a mutually beneficial partnership, it’s essential to establish clear communication.
Step #4: Communicate
Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay, claims that communication is at the center of every successful partnership marketing campaign.
“There are a lot of resources that will lead you to success in marketing partnerships, but none of them will work unless the partners have established a channel of consistent, clear communication,” Vaughn states. “This communication begins with discussing the possibility of partnership, but it has to continue even after you’ve determined your goals, what products and services you’ll each offer, and how you’ll promote the partnership. You have to report on progress and share data during the duration of your partnership. For instance, Emjay might report an increase in its THC oil sales and an uptick in referrals, and our partner reports an increase in email subscriptions. We can note what’s working and reconfigure our marketing approach to capitalize on it, and we can determine areas of improvement. If we’re not communicating efficiently, we might be working with a marketing model that doesn’t benefit us as much as it could.”
Adelle Archer, CEO and Co-Founder of Eterneva, adds that effective communication includes checking in with customers.
“At Eterneva, we focus on our customers’ stories and feedback. Since we’re providing something as personal as creating a physical remembrance of a loved one, we make sure to check in with customers to ensure their satisfaction. While data can show you how successful your business is on paper, customer feedback is the only way to know how you can improve your product and your marketing approach. When you’re partnering with another organization, you each have to reach out to customers to see how you might make the partnership more effective,” Archer states.
The final step in creating effective marketing partnerships is to explore the possibility of continuing the partnership long-term.
Step #5: Build Long-Term Partnerships
Forbes concludes its list of marketing tips by encouraging businesses to build lasting partnerships. Since it takes significant effort to find the right marketing match, you can run multiple campaigns with the same partner to increase your brand’s exposure to your partner’s audience and vice versa.
Dylan Trussell, Co-Founder of Culprit Underwear, identifies some of the benefits of long-term marketing partnerships.
He states, “The longer you work with a brand, the better you get to know that brand and its customer base. While short-term partnerships can get you some new customers and increase your sales for a time, long-term partnerships help potential customers get to know you. The more campaigns you have with a trusted brand, the more likely that the brand’s customers can become your own as well. Long-term partnerships also help you accomplish long-term goals. For example, we sell sustainably-made products and partner with others that do the same. As a result, our partnership encourages more people to shop sustainably.”
Lindsay McCormick, Founder and CEO of Bite, describes her company’s similar goal of building a more sustainable future and how partnerships further this goal.
“There are many problems that need to be corrected if we’re going to improve our planet’s (and our own) health,” McCormick begins. “Every company has to select its problem to solve. No one can do it all. Bite opts to help reduce plastic waste by offering clients plastic-free personal care products like toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, and deodorant. Now, these items aren’t the only sources of plastic making their way into our oceans and other disposal sites, so we partner with and support organizations that solve other problems. That’s how we can all build a more sustainable, healthy future. We each focus on what we can do well, and then we work alongside others with different resources. We continue to work together so we can realize our greater vision.”
There are many ways to engage in partnership marketing, but the benefits are consistent. Streamline Marketing explains that partnership marketing gives you access to a larger audience of potential customers. It increases brand awareness and impacts future sales. Additionally, partnership marketing is low-risk.
If you’re ready to step into partnering with another business, above are a few steps to help you along the way.