Brands have to fight to stand out among their competitors online, today more than ever. In such a competitive and constantly evolving marketing environment, there is still pressure to keep costs down. By partnering with a local retailer, another brand, or a nonprofit, you can boost brand awareness and sales while also using your marketing budget efficiently.
What is partner marketing?
Partner marketing, also called partnership marketing or co-marketing, involves building a marketing strategy with one or more parties, usually another business or company. Partnership marketing is mutually beneficial and helps those involved meet their marketing goals.
Here’s a real life example of partner marketing done well. A few years ago, rideshare app Uber teamed up with music giant Spotify to allow Uber users to customize their ride with their own music choices. Spotify Premium users could connect their account to their Uber app and then request a Spotify-enabled Uber ride.
While it sounds similar, co-marketing is not the same as co-branding. Co-branding involves two companies partnering to create a new and unique product, like Betty Crocker and Hershey releasing a line of new co-branded baking products. Co-marketing means both parties share resources and cross-promote each other’s products or services.
The benefits of partner marketing
A successful partner marketing strategy takes work and collaboration, but the benefits are well worth it.
Reach new audiences
When you partner with another company, you gain access to a larger swath of your target audience, which you may not have been able to reach before.
For example, if you’re a bicycle brand hoping to break into specific local markets in the United States, you can partner with local retailers that carry your products. You might strike up a partnership with a bike shop in South Florida that caters to an active, retired audience. Or you may partner with a shop in California that often sells to outdoorsy, eco-friendly customers.
A successful partnership helps your brand reach people who are already interested or may be interested in your product so you can expand your customer base.
Share new content
Content has to stay fresh in order to keep gaining audience engagement. Partner marketing allows you to pool resources with another company. You gain access to a larger library of content without spending more money on creating it. It’s cost-effective for everyone involved.
Look at how GoPro and Red Bull joined forces in 2016 to “cross-promote and innovate,” as well as share content rights and content distribution. Under the partnership, both companies can distribute their content across their respective networks and media channels.
Whether your marketing partner influences their audience to buy your product or simply introduces your brand to someone new, that exposure increases brand reach and will eventually boost your future sales. In turn, you’ll help your partner do the same.
How to Develop a Partner Marketing Plan
Choose the right partner
To increase brand awareness, scale sales, and take advantage of high-quality content, you need to choose the right partner first. You and your partner should both add value to each other’s marketing efforts.
The right partner for you should not be a direct competitor, but rather an organization or company that complements your business. Your partnership should elevate both parties, not drag one or both of you down. Consider your brand’s goals when finding a partner. How can a partner help you reach your goals?
For example, if you’re a furniture brand hoping to build excitement and get pre-orders for a new product line, you could team up with a local franchise in your target market. You would cross-promote, create fresh co-marketing content on blogs and social media, and allow retailers to carry your new line, similar to what West Elm and Casper did in 2016.
Pick a type of partnership
Your partner marketing plan should help both parties reach their goals, but how you go about it is up to the two of you. There are many types of partner marketing strategies to choose from.
Here are a few examples of types of partner marketing plans you may use:
- Content marketing partnerships let both parties develop and share content with one another’s audiences. Content can include blogs, whitepapers, thought leadership articles, social media posts, podcasts, vlogs, webinars, or eBooks.
- Distribution partnerships allow one partner to bundle and sell the other partner’s products or services with their own. This is a great option that can help boost sales and build customer loyalty for both parties.
- Affiliate marketing partnerships let one party promote the other’s products or services in exchange for a portion of each sale. For example, a jewelry brand may partner with influencers or local jewelry stores to promote their products. In turn, the influencers and stores are paid when their promotions succeed.
Nurture your partnership
Once you’ve chosen your partner and developed a marketing strategy that’s right for both of you, work to keep your partnership strong and healthy. One way is to keep communication lines open from the beginning. Establish clear goals and objectives for both parties. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Open communication builds trust.
You should also consistently measure the results of your co-marketing efforts. If you don’t measure your progress, neither one of you will know whether your partnership is beneficial or detrimental.
Brands can evaluate their marketing strategy’s performance by looking at social media analytics, search rankings, and site analytics. Have leads and sales increased? Has engagement on social media platforms increased? Local retailers, on the other hand, can evaluate their website traffic and foot traffic, as well as sales in a specific time period.
Learn more about partner marketing
Forging a new marketing partnership can be tough if you don’t have the resources or time to find the right partner or make a convincing pitch for partnership. That doesn’t mean you can’t strike up a partnership for your brand, though.
Use ThumbStopper to amplify your brand’s marketing efforts. We’ll help your brand partner with local retailers that carry your products and share your same target audience. With our solutions, you and your partner can automatically post high-quality content at the local level.
ThumbStopper does the heavy lifting of partner marketing for you. Learn more about ThumbStopper’s brand solutions today.