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What is Partnership Marketing? (And How it Can Help With Lead Generation)
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What is Partnership Marketing and How it Can Help With Lead Generation?

Unlock the power of partnership marketing to boost your lead generation and revenue. Get tips to create beneficial partnerships and drive your business growth.

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When your market is already saturated, getting your customers’ attention is tough. But partnership marketing can help you cut through the noise and develop meaningful relationships with other brands and customers alike.

Working with other businesses can help you tap into new audiences, share resources, and support each other's sales and marketing efforts — generating more leads and growing revenue.

But you’ve got to do it right to avoid wasting time and resources on the wrong partner or damaging your reputation. We spoke with Pauline Mura, Senior Marketing Partnership Manager at Livestorm, to share tips, tricks, and best practices for successful partnership marketing.

What is partnership marketing?

Partnership marketing definition

Partnership marketing is when two or more companies join forces to promote their respective products, services, and brands. Each partner can benefit from the other’s audience and customer base, allowing them to reach a larger pool of potential customers than they could on their own.

A partnership marketing strategy is ideal for small businesses that may not have the expertise or resources for a successful marketing campaign. If one partner’s brand identity isn’t disclosed publicly, you’d call this a white-label partnership.

What’s the difference between business partnerships and partnership marketing?

A business partnership is different to partnership marketing because it’s a legal relationship based on signed agreements (general, limited, and limited liability). Partnership marketing can be based on verbally agreed terms and rarely has any legal implications — more like having a business bromance.

What is the purpose of partnership marketing?

The purpose of partnership marketing is to reduce cost per lead (CPL) and generate more sales. The idea is that two heads are better than one, so both parties can develop a mutually beneficial relationship by pooling resources and sharing audiences.

Also, partnering with a larger company can lend credibility to a small business and help it establish itself as a reputable player in their industry. Brands in marketing partnerships can work together in various ways, like co-branding (where they put both logos on a product) or cross-promotion (where they advertise each other's products - more on this later!).

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of marketing partnerships?

It can be tricky to spot potential partners and collaborate effectively. There's always a chance that the partnership could backfire and damage both companies' reputations.

Before you take the plunge, consider these pros and cons:

Benefits of partnership marketing

The benefits of partnership marketing include:

1 - Increased exposure and reach
2 - Shared costs and workload
3 - Unique value propositions

1. Increased exposure and reach

By tapping into another business’ social media networks, email lists, and search authority, you can bring your brand to a whole new audience. “You're leveraging both databases, your own and the partners’, so you're able to access leads you wouldn't access in a normal timeframe,” says Pauline Mura, Senior Marketing Partnership Manager at Livestorm. If you choose your partner brand wisely, you’ll quickly gain credibility with a pre-qualified audience.

2. Shared costs and workload

Partnering effectively doubles your marketing budget for specific campaigns and access to multidisciplinary talent – and fresh perspectives – without having to hire or contract out. So it’s a smart choice for teams with limited resources looking to scale.

3. Unique value propositions

You can create unique value propositions and introduce your partner’s audience to complementary products from your range. Combining resources, skills, and offerings can lead to new innovative solutions, better, faster services, and even industry disruption.

Risks of partnership marketing

The risks of partnership marketing include:

1 - Straying off course
2 - Disagreements and conflicts
3 - Damaging trust

1. Straying off course

You may get sidetracked from your objectives, and there's a danger of losing control over communications, or feeling pushed into decisions. “You have to share deadlines,” says Pauline, “and some priorities may be pushed because you're working with someone else. That also means that goals or direction can be shifted because you must find an agreement.”

2. Disagreements and conflicts

There’s a chance that your partners don’t perform agreed tasks on schedule or keep up their end of the bargain. While you can control your business processes and resources, you can’t control theirs. If a campaign fails, partners may blame each other and become rivals, damaging both reputations.

Profit sharing is particularly sensitive, especially if one partner brings more to the table than the other. If you invested too heavily in the partnership, you could also find you’ve become too reliant on co-branding or left with products or services that don’t work well independently.

3. Damaging trust

You can also damage trust with your customer base by endorsing a partner that falls short of expectations. “If you haven't done your work in advance to ensure the partner is trustworthy in terms of brand, or if there's a PR crisis or something related to their image, then your brand is tarnished because you have that link with them,” explains Pauline. And, of course, you’re taking a leap of faith by sharing customer data and trade secrets, even with watertight event partnership agreements.

What are the different types of partnership marketing?

Different types of partnership marketing can achieve different goals and target different audiences. For example, cross-promotion helps combine existing customer bases, while affiliate marketing is good for reaching new customers.

Here are some B2B partnership marketing types:

1 - Co-hosted events
2 - Affiliate marketing
3 - Distribution partnership
4 - Joint products
5 - Licensing partnerships
6 - Product placement
7 - Content marketing
8 - Sponsorship

We’ll cover each of these in detail.

1. Co-hosted events

Co-hosted events are when two or more companies come together to host a shared event like product launches, networking events, or conferences. Leveraging each others’ databases and teaming up on social media event promotion can double attendance and engagement without doubling costs.

partnership marketing

To co-host virtual events, you need online meeting software like Livestorm to engage your attendees with live chats, polls, and Q&A. With Livestorm's automatic recording feature, you can convert your co-hosted event into an on-demand video and share snippets of the event with your website visitors.

Pro tip: Add your social media handles to your Livestorm webinar landing pages to spread the word. You can customize your event landing pages and email campaigns to reflect yours and your partner’s branding.

2. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is when a company partners with an individual or organization (the "affiliate") to promote its products or services. Here's how it works: if you're the affiliate, your partner company will give you a unique link or code to add to your site, social media posts, and email marketing campaigns. Every time a customer clicks the link or uses your code, you earn a commission.

It’s like having a squad of mini-mes out there promoting your brand. But you’ve to pick the right squad members who align with your company's values and target market.

3. Distribution partnership

Distribution partnership often takes the form of bundling – uniting your products or services and promoting them on each other’s platforms – and relies heavily on established customer trust. This can include discounts, free trial codes or coupons, or freebies.

Distribution partnership

It works best when the products are complementary and different enough to provide added value – for example, pairing e-learning software with webinar hosting software or educational content with B2B video marketing strategies. Distribution partnership is ideal for small and medium-sized businesses as they may not have the resources or networks to distribute their own products widely.

4. Joint products

With joint product partnerships, two brands create a product, such as an ebook or whitepaper, or design a customized solution for mutual customers with joint branding.

For example, if you sold virtual event software and partnered with a communications agency, you could bundle a package of promotional materials like email templates and social media posts to help customers maximize their event ROI.

When choosing a joint product partner, ensure the products or services are complementary and that their customer base is similar to yours. KPIs (such as units sold, revenue generated, brand awareness, and customer satisfaction) should be agreed upon beforehand. This can fuel considerable growth by opening new markets and creating new revenue streams.

5. Licensing partnerships

Licensing partnerships are when a company (the licensor) allows another company (the licensee) to use its products, services, trademarks, or other intellectual property for a royalty payment. This can include everything from digital technology to designs, brand image, logos, values, and mission statements.

Two licensing partners having a conversation

Imagine software company A licenses its technology to company B, which wants to create its own product. This allows company B to use the technology without developing it themselves, and company A earns a percentage of the revenue from the product sales.

Licensing is essentially buying an established brand and selling it as your own, but with more room for collaboration.

6. Product placement

Product placement is a form of advertising where a product is placed in a TV show, movie, or social media platform subtly and organically. Think of it as an understated way to advertise.

For example, an influencer or celebrity might post a picture of themselves drinking your brand's coffee, wearing your brand’s latest item of clothing, or using your product. This builds brand recognition, increases credibility and trust, and leverages the influencer or celebrity's existing fan base to drive sales.

First, you need to identify influencers that have an audience who’s likely to purchase your product or service. Create a plan of action that includes objectives, tactics, reach, goals, budget, and schedule. Once you make a placement, monitor it to track its effectiveness and use the data to inform future partnerships.

7. Content Marketing

Content marketing is when two companies team up to produce content that resonates with the target audience. For example, Livestorm recently partnered with Mention, a cloud-based tool for monitoring audience insights and analyzing your marketing strategies across social media. We collaborated to create the "Marketing Manager Mindset Report 2022" that shares insights on strategy, content marketing, and video marketing.

Marketing Manager Mindset Report 2022 by Livestorm and Mention
Marketing Manager Mindset Report 2022
Marketing Manager Mindset Report 2022 by Livestorm and Mention
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Marketing Manager Mindset Report 2022

Benchmark your marketing strategy against 850+ marketing decision-makers and discover their goals, challenges and priorities.

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The benefit of content partnerships is that it allows you to tap into each other’s existing audiences and create valuable content that educates, entertains, or inspires. These can include guest blogging, collaborating on lead magnets, or one partner producing co-promoted content that links to the other.

8. Sponsorship

Sponsorship is when a company pays to be associated with an event, cause, or organization. This can include sponsoring charity runs, hosting industry events and concerts, or sponsoring teams or athletes and other such initiatives.

For example, Nike is the official sponsor of many professional sports teams around the world, and they’re known to be one of the most successful sponsorship brands out there. Sponsorship can create brand awareness, help boost sales and generate buzz. It also nurtures loyalty among customers, who know you’re committed to the brands and causes they care about.

What are good co-branding partnership examples?

Here are a few of our favorite examples of good co-branding strategies.

Co-hosted events

In 2022, with Guru, we co-hosted Internal Communication Strategies for a Hybrid Work Environment to discuss the best internal communication strategies for mixed teams to ensure employee engagement, inclusivity, and cross-team collaboration, among other topics.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is hugely popular in tech. A good example is the Semrush affiliate program, where publishers get paid commissions for trials, sign-ups, or sales.

Distribution

Distribution is also popular with SaaS vendors. Like Microsoft’s partnership with OSIsoft data management systems to offer both companies’ products behind a single interface.

Joint products

Marketing platform HubSpot has integrated services with FreshBooks accounting software to allow brands to serve their clients across both platforms at different stages of the sales cycle.

Licensing

If you’ve ever needed high-quality images for marketing campaigns, you’ll have come across the Getty Images platform, which enables professional photographers to sell photos in exchange for royalties.

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Gather more leads with event partnerships on Livestorm

How to build a successful partnership marketing strategy

From setting clear goals to choosing the right partners, here are some tips on how to build a successful partnership marketing strategy:

1 - Establish your goals
2 - Choose the right partnership type
3 - Identify the right partner
4 - Jointly develop strategy, value, and messages
5 - Decide on responsibilities
6 - Determine how to track results
7 - Put it in writing
8 - Choose your tools and tech stack

1. Establish your goals

Start by establishing specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART) goals that directly tie into your business needs. Is your goal to increase brand recognition? Generate leads? Drive more sales?

Establish your comarketing goals

Ask questions like:

  • What kind of ROI do you want to see?
  • How much money are you willing to spend?
  • What kind of partners are you looking for?
  • How can the partners help you reach your goals?

2. Choose the right partnership type

Not all marketing partnerships are suitable for every business, so it’s important to pick the right one. Consider factors such as compatibility, audience overlap, and brand alignment. For example, if you’re looking to increase sales or customers, affiliate marketing could be the way to go. If you want to host events or create content together, look for an influencer or media partner. Similarly, sponsorship is a good fit for events or charities.

3. Identify the right partner

Once you know what kind of partnerships you’re looking for, it’s time to start reaching out to potential partners. Pauline adds, “you need to think about what types of brands you go after and your criteria, like company size. You want to be approximately aligned in terms of lead gen, and the audience will be the biggest focus. Do you have overlapping audiences? Can you find a topic that works and brings value to both of you? Is it going to be a win-win situation?”

Select the right partner for co-marketing

4. Jointly develop strategy, value, and messages

Start by setting mutual objectives and a shared vision. This will make the collaboration more effective, and alignment will shine through in your messaging.

Think about:

  • How you’ll target your audiences
  • Your “better together” story: What unique, added value does your joint offering bring?
  • Which promotion methods and channels to use

5. Decide on responsibilities

Establish deliverables, responsibilities, and timelines, and what resources each will contribute. Who will handle branding, and what are the assets and deliverables you need in terms of promotion? You also need to figure out lead sharing. So, who will follow up with new sign-ups or inbound leads to make sure a) that they don’t go cold or b) you duplicate communications and risk overwhelming or annoying them?

Split responsabilities with the partner

6. Determine how to track results

Establish which metrics you need to track to measure campaign performance, know whether you’re hitting targets and how each partner is performing. Remember, you’ll need to know which leads or revenue are attributable to which partner, channel, or co-branded campaigns, for profit sharing or paying commissions. This is especially important in distribution partnerships.

7. Put it in writing

Agree on terms and conditions, including data sharing, budget, payment terms, and more Stipulate what happens if there are missed deadlines, delays, compliance failures, or disputes over profit-sharing. Transparent rules help establish trust later.

Sign a co-marketing agreement

8. Choose tools and tech stack

Smooth collaboration with your co-branding partner requires a solid tech stack.

For example:

  • An all-in-one video engagement solution like Livestorm to co-host events
  • A customer relationship management platform, like Salesforce
  • Document and asset sharing solutions like Google Docs
  • Collaboration and communications tools like Slack, MailChimp, etc.
  • Dedicated partner management software like PartnerStack that generates custom tracking URLs
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How to find and keep a strategic marketing partner?

Mutual understanding of objectives and trust is key when it comes to forming a successful partnership marketing event strategy.

Here are some tips on how to find and keep the right partner:

1 - Define your target audience
2 - Identify your ideal partner
3 - Make a candidate list
4 - Check partners out
5 - Keep a partner

1. Define your target audience

Find out through research what your audience values. Then, figure out how your partnership will impact the buyer experience and deliver value. The best partners share your target audience but don’t compete with your products or services or have client lists that overlap too much.

2. Identify your ideal partner

To avoid channel conflicts, remember each deal can only be closed once. So think about how to avoid conflicts between partners and between partners and direct sales. Look for companies offering complementary products or operating in parallel clusters. So, if you sell software, team up with a company selling hardware. Think about the partner maturity stage, too, to avoid issues caused by the level of executive buy-in and unequal resources and commitment.

3. Make a candidate list

Ensure that the partners you’re considering have a suitable marketing budget and are willing to commit it to your joint project.

To do this:

  • Make a wish list of brands you and your colleagues admire.
  • Scour Google, social media, forums, and industry news to find top companies in your space or parallel spaces.
  • Join affiliate marketing networks.
  • Participate in networking events.

4. Check partners out

When researching potential marketing partners, ask yourself:

Do you have a similar audience? Check out their websites, etc. to find overlap with your buyer personas.

Do they have good brand reputation? Use Google News and ask around to make sure they don’t have any negative press.

Do your products compete? If so, while you may share the same audience, it makes no sense to generate leads for a competitor. Remember, the partnership won’t last forever.

Are you aligned? Do you share values and goals? Do they align with your strategy, and sell products appropriate for your target market? The partnership has to make sense to customers, as well as you. If it’s a stretch to find synchronicity, you’re probably not right for each other.

Do they have strong outreach? Subscribe to their blog, mailing list, and social media. Do they communicate regularly? What are their follower numbers? How engaged is their audience? Use a tool like similarweb.com to check out their traffic.

5. Keep a partner

Once you start working together, it’s important to

  • Set clear expectations, especially around dates
  • Communicate clearly and often
  • Have regular check-ins
  • Be transparent about what’s working and what’s not, and open to jointly finding solutions
  • Treat them as you want to be treated
  • Build connections and a relationship
  • Reward partners in line with your agreement and on time
  • Provide any support they need, and access to shared resources and materials
  • Update them about changes or developments, like new strategies, assets, etc.

Sealing the deal

Partnership marketing is a great way to build your brand and reach new markets. By pooling ideas, skills, and resources, brands can grow their reputation and reach more effectively than flying solo. Set clear goals, establish your strategy, choose the right partnership type and find partners that are an ideal match for you.

But you also need a solid tech stack that facilitates collaboration and engagement. And with Livestorm, you can engage new audiences worldwide through high-quality, on-brand virtual events. Whether you're hosting a 3000 people event or just a small webinar, Livestorm is the perfect platform for you and your partners to create impactful experiences that drive conversations and results.

Frequently asked questions about partnership marketing

Are partnerships part of marketing?

Partnerships are a type of event strategy where two or more companies or organizations come together to achieve a common goal, like increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting sales. Partnerships can take many forms, such as co-branding, affiliate marketing, product placement, sponsorship, and licensing.

Why does partnership marketing pay off?

Partnership marketing pays off because it allows two companies to pool resources, skills, and ideas to extend their reach and open new markets. It can help companies mitigate risks and increase their resilience in the face of market challenges.

How do you promote a partnership?

You can promote a partnership through social media blasts, building follow-links on relevant blog posts, or email swaps promoting your respective products. Other methods include co-hosting events, or jointly publishing and promoting resources.

How to find marketing partnership opportunities?

You can find partnership marketing opportunities by looking for a partner whose audience overlaps with yours but whose products don’t directly compete. You can find them by networking at industry events and conferences, using social media platforms and online partnering platforms, and implementing referral marketing.

How do you establish a marketing partnership?

You can establish a marketing partnership by seeking the right partner to help achieve your goals, and who is aligned with your strategy and values. Then, establish your shared vision, divide responsibilities, and draw up an agreement.

What is an example of partner marketing?

Some examples of partner marketing include:

  • Co-hosted events
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Distribution partnerships
  • Joint products
  • Licensing partnerships
  • Product placement
  • Content marketing
  • Sponsorship

What type of marketing are partnerships?

Partnerships are collaborative marketing strategies between two or more companies to promote and sell their products or services together. They create joint marketing campaigns, share resources, and customers, and often cross-promote each other's products or services.

What is the difference between partnerships and sponsorship?

The difference between partnerships and sponsorship is that in a partnership, companies work together to achieve a common goal like the promotion and sale of each other's products or services. Sponsorship, on the other hand, is a form of advertising where a company provides financial support to an event in exchange for public exposure or recognition. While partnerships are often long-term, sponsorships can be a one-time or short-term commitment.

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