A Complete Guide to Partnership Marketing

partner marketing guide partnership advertising joint venture business branding

Partner marketing is a fairly underutilized technique.

Many business owners are only waking up to its potential. They’re starting to realize self-sufficiency isn’t always a way to go, not in a market rife with competition.

Indeed, businesses of all shapes and sizes stand to benefit from partnering up. Unlike the traditional approach, the tactic of partnership marketing maximizes both the marketing results and cost-effectiveness. It’s possible to target a larger audience and spread brand awareness far and wide.

There are other amazing selling points on partner marketing we’re going to cover. So, without further ado, here is what you need to know about a collaborative approach to marketing.


Unlocking Synergy

We know it can seem that way, but it’s not all dog eat dog out there.

Partner marketing is the best proof there is. It thrives on the stage set by modern communication technology. We have a chance to undergo digital transformation and take advantage of various collaboration opportunities.

Besides, the basic idea behind partnership marketing is simple.

Two businesses aim to combine the powers of their marketing engines. The ultimate result should be a vehicle that is more than the sum of its parts.

To be more specific, partnered businesses often decide to develop a marketing strategy together. They also agree to share resources and help each other achieve brand objectives.  Resource pooling allows them to (in theory) double their budgets and human capital.

The recent business practice has generated a large body of evidence in favor of this approach. Many startups have managed to work miracles in terms of getting initial traction.


Taking Your Aim

Alas, making partnership marketing work in practice is no cakewalk.

Two parties need to have common aims and aligned visions. The strategy yields the best results when they are complementary organizations, not competitors. Ideally, their executives are like-minded individuals.

With that in mind, some of the most common partner candidates include:

  • Deal aggregators (such as limited-time offers)
  • Influencers
  • Coupon and discount aggregators
  • Community managers
  • Content providers
  • Loyalty and reward programs

The list goes on and features some less-popular avenues. You’re free to explore them further on your own.


Weighing the Options

Notice such strategic partnerships encompass various core business areas, from packaging to advertising.

This is to say there are many different types of partnership marketing.  Some of the most common options are:

  • Content marketing
  • Sales
  • Affiliation
  • Join distribution
  • Partnered event marketing strategies
  • Loyalty campaigns
  • Licensing
  • Sponsorship
  • Product placement
  • Joint Products

These forms of partnership marketing gravitate toward different business goals.

In the case of affiliate collaboration, for example, you as an advertiser reach out to publishers. These parties can be other blogs, websites, and brands. They’re supposed to promote your businesses for monetary compensation.

Usually, these affiliate campaigns operate in the digital realm. One gains exposure via links, banner ads, promotional pages, and similar assets.

On the other hand, a distribution partnership relies on cross-marketing and bundling of products/services. Concrete tactics involve in-store coupons, email vouchers, and QR codes.

The goal is to nurture the trust and loyalty of more customers. Some of them may have heard of you. Others probably encounter your brand for the first time.


Laying the Groundwork

To figure out the right modes of partnership, you have to do some spadework.

First off, set measurable, time-framed, and realistic goals. Select the key performance indicators (KPIs) for tracking them. Outline the plan for testing and benchmarking, as well as assessing revenue drivers.

Next off, identify areas where you’re lacking necessary resources or expertise. You want to avoid starting from scratch or having to go out of your way to attain set objectives.

For instance, let’s say you’re adept at producing quality articles, but lack optimization know-how. It makes a lot of sense to partner with someone with a lot of SEO experience. After all, organic visibility can make or break a brand in digital times we live in.

Moving on, you should know how the cooperation benefits you, but also what you have to offer to the other party. Look for points of overlap, such as mutual target audience and geographical proximity.

You can open an offline shared store or launch a joint online loyalty program. The opportunities abound and the basic rule stays the same: understand what motivates potential partners and devise suitable ways to engage them.


Maximizing the Strategy

Partnership marketing is a low-risk strategy.

The amount of the initial investment is minimal. It’s doesn’t take forever to plan and execute the program. However, there are some pitfalls you want to avoid.

For example, be careful not to dilute your brand identity or compromise marketing consistency. People want to buy from businesses that come across as authentic.

Thus, partnerships should feel organic, not forced. To make it happen, look beyond factors like following and engagement potential. Take into account how compatible your business cultures and value propositions are.

Try to capitalize on brand leverage, which offers a boost to your public reputation.  

You can draw valuable lessons from some of the most successful brand combos, such as Red Bull & GoPro or Spotify & Uber. These business champions have shown us how partnerships are done.

Finally, put a system in place for ongoing program evaluation and optimization. Make sure to evolve and grow together over time. Get in front of the customers and keep them coming back for more.


Reaching the Next Level with Partner Marketing

Done right, partner marketing is a clear win-win.

It’s one of the fastest-growing strategies in the business landscape. Traditional marketing simply fails to provide the same kinds of benefits.

But, the problem is there’s quite a bit of ground to cover. You want to come up with a rock-solid plan and get your priorities straight. Understand why you need a partner in the first place.

Take your time finding the right business entity, which shares similar business DNA. Align your organizations to ensure mutually-beneficial collaboration. Business partners should play to their strengths and overcome the weaknesses.

You should be able to grow your business faster and more cost-effectively with partner marketing.  

Check out the rest of our marketing section to arm yourself with actionable tips on partner marketing. It’s time to launch stand-out campaigns, gain more exposure, and scale sales. Visit the Digital Marketing and Sales section of the Bootstrap Business Blog for more articles on partnership marketing, affiliate sales, joint ventures, and other helpful biz topics.

Bootstrap Business Blog Newest Posts From Mike Schiemer, Partners, & Blog Outreach Services