Brands not harnessing the power of partner marketing are missing on big opportunity. In today's increasingly competitive marketplace, brands need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.
One powerful way to do this is involves teaming up with other brands, individuals, or companies to create joint marketing campaigns. These campaigns can be very effective in reaching new audiences and driving sales. However, partner marketing requires careful planning and execution. Brands need to carefully select partners that are a good fit for their products or services. They also need to develop creative campaigns that will capture the attention of consumers.
This article will dive into what partner marketing is (and isn't). Let's get to it.
Table of Contents
What is Partner Marketing?
Partner marketing, sometimes called partnership marketing, involves two brands working together to promote each other's services or products. Through partner marketing, the two companies have similar target markets, so their offerings appeal to both audiences. However, the products and services of each business are different enough that they are not competing for the same dollars. In this way, each company brings some value to the partnership without any conflicting interests.
What Are Possible Partner Marketing Arrangements?
Partnership marketing comes in different forms. The one you choose will vary based on the brands involved, and most companies use more than one method. Here are a few common strategies you'll see in the marketplace. You may recognize some of these cooperative agreements, as they are used by some of the largest and most recognizable companies in the world.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most straightforward forms of partner marketing. Each partner links to the other's website or social media accounts. For example, with affiliate marketing, a customer visits Partner A's site and clicks a link that leads to Partner B's online presence. Partner A gets a commission from that sale if the customer buys something via that link.
The best part is that partners are paid on a performance marketing basis, meaning they only get paid when they produce results
Affiliate marketing is my jam. If your company is researching how to create an affiliate program, let's have a conversation.
As the name implies, the brands collaborate to create content that benefits both partners in a content partnership. Another form of content partnership involves one partner developing the content and handing it off to the other to distribute. The key to success in a content partnership is that the content appeals to the audiences of both partners.
One partner distributes or cross-promotes the other partner's products or services in a distribution partnership. This arrangement often offers customers an exclusive discount to buy through the distributing partner. For example, in a distribution partnership, Partner A sets up a display or a demonstration of Partner B's products in its stores.
A joint product is one that the partners create together through collaboration. It's usually something that neither partner could do on its own. Joint products are prevalent in the tech industry.
White labeling is another form of this product strategy. With white labeling, Partner A creates a product and then sells or leases it to Partner B, which distributes it under its own name. Joint product strategy shouldn't be confused with collaborative product launching, which happens when both companies use their marketing power to promote a new product.
Licensing agreements involve one partner selling the other partner the right to use its products and images. For example, with a licensing agreement, Partner A specifies what Partner B can use and how it can use it. Partner B benefits from Partner A's reputation and marketing power in exchange for the agreed-upon price.
A loyalty partnership involves one partner offering discounts on its products and services as rewards inside the other partner's loyalty program. Suppose Partner A provides a loyalty program in which customers earn a free sample of another product with every order.
One of the rewards might be a sample of Partner B's product or service in a loyalty partnership. Both companies benefit. Partner A may see increased participation in the loyalty program, and Partner B gets its product in front of a whole new audience that it may not have been able to reach on its own.
Product placement partnership marketing happens when one partner features the other in its marketing content. Most people are familiar with the concept of product placement because they've seen it happen on television or in the movies. When a character in a show uses a particular computer brand, drinks a specific kind of soda, or drives a given make and model car, you've just witnessed product placement partnership marketing. This kind of exchange also happens on a smaller scale at conferences and in case studies or white papers.
Influencer marketing is one of the newest kinds of product placement marketing. Social media influencers with a large following (Partner A) can recommend or feature a product from Partner B on their channels. This arrangement is suitable for Partner B because the product gets out to a new audience, and it's also beneficial for the influencers because they can reach the people who follow Partner B and possibly gain new followers.
Why Try Partnership Marketing?
In such a competitive marketplace, companies must take advantage of every opportunity that might allow them to reach a new audience. The partners can acquire new customers through partnership marketing that they might not connect with independently. Your company stands to gain a number of benefits from partnership marketing with the right partner.
Maximizing Marketing Resources.
Every company has a set marketing budget that allocates money and human resources to these efforts. Going it alone means the company is limited to its own assets. Working together gives each partner a larger pool of resources with which to work.
More Efficient Audience Building.
Establishing an audience from the ground up takes time and a great deal of focused hard work to find potential customers and earn their trust. Companies can bypass much of this work through partnerships that give them access to other companies' audiences that may be a good match. Not only does this avoid the hard work of building the audience, but it also gives the company instant credibility with the partner's audience, so the trust-building process takes less time.
If you are looking for more tools to find the right partners, find more with this list of best affiliate management software.
More Value to the Customer.
Partnership marketing gives both partners the ability to offer more value to each company's customers. The partners say to their respective audiences, “We care about you, and you are more than just the dollars you spend with us. Because we want you to succeed, here's a product we think can help you.” Another important message to customers is one of understanding: “We know that you are interested in our product, and because we understand you, here's another product that we think you'll enjoy.”
By participating in a marketing partnership, each partner endorses the other's brand, essentially serving as a referral source for each other. The mutual endorsement signifies to the customer mutual trust between the partners. Partner A says to its customers, “We trust Partner B and recommend you try its products and services.” Partner B says the same to its customer base.
How Can I Develop an Effective Partner Marketing Plan?
As with most aspects of your business, an effective partnership marketing strategy starts with a goal. Once you know what you want to achieve, you can set about designing a plan to reach that goal. Here are some things to consider as you start planning.
Find the Right Partner.
The right match between partners is the most critical factor in the success of your partnership marketing plan. One of the basic principles for choosing a partner is that the two businesses should have complementary interests but cannot be competitors after the same market share.
Another equally important factor is that the companies must have something in common. Completely unrelated companies probably don't have audiences interested in the products of both. Choosing the right partner is worth doing carefully, even if it takes some time.
Partners that have invested in affiliate marketing courses are often much easier to work with. Affiliate partners that invest in the education of the latest winning tactics will have a much better chance to rank on Google and produce a better piece of content.
Create a Partner Persona.
Every company should make a practice of creating a Partner Persona. Just as a business needs to understand the motivation and demographic of their ideal customer, they should create a Partner Persona to identify who the right partners are and how to get them in your program.
Find the Right Media Channels.
Once you have identified your partner, it's time to consider what form the partnership marketing effort will take. You're looking for an opportunity that features both companies in a positive and appealing way.
The partners should look better in the partnership than they would independently. For example, suppose Partner A produces sports drinks and Partner B produces soccer balls. The two partners could choose to jointly sponsor a high-profile soccer match because the people who watch soccer would be interested in sports drinks and soccer balls.
Independently, the companies might not be able to afford the sponsorship, but it's possible when they pool their resources.
Find the Right Way to Communicate With Each Other.
Partner marketing requires clear communication, just like any business or personal relationship. Before formalizing the agreement, the partners should talk extensively to ensure they agree on the goals and how to achieve them. Cover all of these points:
- The strengths each company brings to the partnership.
- The weaknesses each company hopes to alleviate through the partnership.
- How each partner defines success and what each hopes to achieve through the partnership.
- How the two companies fit together well as partners.
- What data each partner can provide to evaluate the success of the partnership.
Once the partnership is official, keep these discussions going as you follow the data to see how successful your association is and how you may need to modify it over time.
Where Can I Find Help With My Partner Marketing Strategies?
Developing a partner marketing strategy can feel overwhelming, but we are here to help. We can help you identify potential partners and establish a relationship that works for both companies.
Contact us today to learn more about our services and how our friendly and professional team can help you bypass the most challenging obstacles to partner marketing. Or sign up here for a free 15-minute exploration call to see what we can do for your company.