Partnership marketing is relatively straightforward. Two brands join forces to craft marketing or advertising plans. The goals may vary, but marketing partnerships can do a lot for a brand’s image and lead generation.
Partners typically share resources, making it cheaper to deliver high-quality content or events. It is also possible to get more creative since partnerships can act as an incubator for new ideas. Most importantly, partnerships help you expand your reach to new audiences.
In this article, we’ll explore seven partnership strategies that will boost your brand identity. While we're at it, we'll review a handful of content ideas that will give your events that extra bit of brand-building buzz.
You and your partner might have varying goals. For example, your partner may be interested in generating as many leads as possible, while your team might be interested in building brand awareness. The key to creating a successful partnership is developing an approach that serves each partner’s needs equally.
Luckily, partnership marketing comes in many forms. Here are some options you should choose to craft the right approach:
One of the most prevalent forms of partnership marketing is affiliate marketing. At a basic level, your brand partners with a publisher who promotes your services. Publishers can be anything – websites, influencers, other brands – whose sphere of influence mirrors your company's customer base.
The critical aspect of this strategy is that the publisher's business is similar to your own. Yet, either by the publisher's broader reach or wider exposure, they have access to an audience beyond your own.
The most common form of affiliate marketing employs backlinks within a publisher's content that links back to your company's website. That content can appear on the publisher's site, on their social media, within their email marketing, or in promotions and ads. For each sale that the publisher helps generate for the brand, the publisher usually receives a small fee for their services.
Affiliate marketing is incredibly popular in the technology sector. Software and hardware reviews on consumer reporting and blogging sites often link back to the product and services they write about.
The publisher gets a commission on a product sale, while the brand nets sales and consistent exposure to the publisher's audience.
Although affiliate marketing reigns supreme with partnerships (they're one of the most effortless collaborations to implement), a distribution model possesses some serious staying power. It doesn't hurt that it's one of the most practiced forms of partnership marketing.
Distribution works in one of two ways. Bundling involves pairing your product or service with those of your partner. Cross-marketing features promoting your partner's products on your platforms to your audience and vice versa.
Distribution relies heavily on the idea of your partner's customers trusting the products and services they provide. If your services pop up alongside their products on their platforms, the consumer trust is transferred over to your brand.
Though physical products immediately come to mind, the distribution of coupons or placing your QR code on a partner's product packaging is also viable methods.
A joint product partnership represents two brands coming together to collaborate on developing or creating a product.
There's a lot of wiggle room in that definition.
Yes, joint products represent genuine co-development of a good or service. But there's also collaboration, where one partner creates a product, and the other partner provides components to help power the unit.
Additionally, when two products merge their resources and their product lines, it is classified as a joint product. Recall when Apple acquired the Beats by Dre audio brand, they added their proprietary technology but kept the Beats brand a separate entity.
You'll also see another form of joint products where a partner firm doesn't have a hand in creating the product itself but is granted the opportunity to brand it as their own.
Joint products often represent the pinnacle of partnership marketing. Depending on the approach, it results in a considerable sharing of the costs. It can also fuel remarkable growth by opening up new markets, new customer bases, and numerous branding opportunities.
It's also critical in producing new streams of revenue.
If your goal is to build your brand as fast as possible, licensing is the shortest path to doing so.
Licensing grants one firm the ability to build another firm's products and sell them through its own branding and distribution network.
A widely used form of licensing features the outright selling of a company's brand to a partner. Within this scenario, the rights come with flexibility in how the brand is used and marketed. The brand image and reputation, logos, and company mission statements or values are all on the table for the licensee to adopt or change.
If it sounds similar to buying an established brand and casting it as your own, well, that's precisely what it is.
Licensing, however, does leave room for more collaboration than an outright purchase.
In this scenario, licensing involves the developer brand taking an active role in manufacturing, marketing, sales, and customer service. In some ways, this form of licensing may resemble joint product partnerships.
Of the strategies on our list, product placement is the most well-known. After all, we witness it all the time, in movies and on TV shows.
Getting your products in front of consumers and decision-makers can translate into huge dividends later. Especially if the placement involves active use and a glowing review in front of a broad audience.
Think of a popular character in a television show, pecking away on an Apple or Dell laptop – with the respective logo front and center. Or an influencer (social media or otherwise) freely touting your service and broadcasting their fandom to their followers.
Product placement doesn't have to be glamorous to be effective. Advertising to a captive audience by taking the stage at a partner's company retreat or providing valuable products and gifts to event-goers at an industry conference is always well-received.
Marketing doesn't get much simpler than sponsorship. Your brand pays for the right to splash its name, purpose, and pitch across multiple outlets offered by the partner.
Sponsorship is in many ways a form of advertising. It is more directly rooted in connecting your brand to specific events or initiatives.
Consider the difference between purchasing a media ad on a nationally televised sporting event and paying for the opportunity to sponsor one of the teams playing.
With your name and logo on the jersey, the field, or in the stands, you create a direct association between your brand and the sports organization.
Creating awareness and establishing and growing a brand identity are the primary goals for sponsorship. Consider that any time that team features on the news, across television or the internet, in video highlights or pictures in a print magazine, your brand stands the chance of being featured, even if indirectly.
It's also a means for helping to drive engagement.
With any sponsorship, it creates an image for the customer as to what type of brand you are and the values you represent. Your brand may not have anything to do with sports, but your target audience will take notice that you appreciate that others do.
Finally, we must not forget every marketer's favorite buzzword from the past few years – content. From a pure collaboration standpoint, content partner marketing can prove the most rewarding.
As a genuine touchpoint with customers, it's also one of the most direct forms of marketing.
Crafting content that is both engaging and relevant to a customer is no small feat. With a partner in tow, it's considerably less of a challenge.
The two primary forms of this partnership include co-creation and link sharing. The former features co-authorship of gated content, co-production of a digital summit or product demonstration webinar, or co-hosting live events or panels.
By sharing the collaboration, the setup, and execution in producing the content with both brands prominently featured, each earns awareness and engagement.
Much like distribution, co-creation takes advantage of the trust a partner has established with their audience. When your brand appears as an equal partner, that customer base takes notice.
Link sharing focuses on a lead partner producing the necessary content, but the secondary partner promoting it. The content features links and references to the secondary partner who drives exposure.
Your content collaborations have no limit. From building awareness through guest or shared blogs to posting content for each other on social media platforms, to lead generation favorites such as ebooks, webinars, or co-hosted events.
Content marketing between partners is also ideal for those aiming to boost SEO and organic traffic. It's an intelligent avenue for brands that struggle with content but are adept at promotion among their audience.
Whatever your partnership, innovative partner events are critical to ensuring your collaboration makes the most impact. Live online events, in particular, are increasing in popularity.
In addition to getting in front of a collective audience to build awareness and engage them directly, live online events create a buzz that's hard to match with passive marketing.
Some of the most compelling live events include hosting or participating in a live panel. The live discussion is helpful in that it helps cast you as an expert within your respective industry. You don't need to wait for actual industry conferences to set up a panel discussion, either. Webinars are an ideal avenue for you and your collaborators to host your panel.
Similarly, hosting a digital or internet-based summit offers a wealth of networking and idea-sharing opportunities. Digital conferences provide unique situational experiences – participants can attend when convenient for them, speakers and panels can be live or recorded, and any content that comes from the summit is easily repurposed.
Finally, unique events such as a game or contest, a hackathon, or a fundraiser are means for engagement. Each one presents an opportunity to grow your network and promote products or services while adding a fresh perspective to how you engage with your audience.
In today's connected world, collaboration makes sense. It's not simply about sharing resources but sharing ideas. With brands constantly fighting for the attention of ever more diverse audiences, partnerships help you break through the noise.
The best partnerships bring a uniqueness to your audience that solo marketing can't always duplicate. More importantly, it broadens your potential audience and increases the opportunities for consistently meaningful engagement. Especially when that engagement takes place on a live platform.