by Kelsi Trinidad, Contributor
Partnership marketing can take on many shapes. Through a spectrum of different types of partnership marketing, any brand - whether they be small or large - can customize their strategy to connect with other brands and simultaneously grow their own audience. Every corner you turn, every website you visit, every video you see - they’re packed with partnerships, but it may not be obvious at first.
Each type of partnership is a unique approach, and partnerships can be mixed and matched to drive your brand towards its goal. This guide to popular types of partnership marketing will clarify which partnership is right for your company’s growth.
Also known as “branded content,” this is a strategy where brands work with publications to create content that caters to the publication’s audience. This allows for a cohesive and succinct way for brands to create content that doesn’t feel as direct to the reader as an advertisement. Buzzfeed is a great example of a publication that is known to collaborate with brands to create content (copy, video, etc.) featuring their products.
Many publications have departments dedicated to working with brands to create sponsored content, and working together offers your brand more control over the content created. An added advantage to this strategy is that there is an established readership that will be reading the content you created with the publication.
Also known in hipper arenas as a “collab,” this strategy involves two brands collaborating to make a product or line of products together. By creating a product integrating the style and sensibility of both brands, the products automatically earn the interest of both brands’ customer bases.
The most successful brand that thrives on this strategy is the sportswear brand Supreme. They have a long list of “collabs” that include Nike, The North Face, Louis Vuitton, Champion, and many others. Digital apps also take advantage of this tactic, like in the case of Snapchat and Amazon’s new tool to allow Snapchat users to purchase items through Amazon by taking a picture of the item on Snapchat. It’s likely that in the case of Snapchat and Amazon, there may also be an affiliate partnership (see below) strategy at play, wherein Snapchat receives a percentage of the sales made through this tool.
Dedicated marketing is a more direct form of partnership marketing where one brand takes over another brand’s content. This strategy allows for one brand to promote their products to another brand’s audience, usually through email or on social media. This allows you to introduce your brand directly to potential customers as well as gain the advantage of brand association with a partner that has a strong following.
A form of content marketing, content swaps are based on two brands exchanging content. This can take the form of featuring each other’s links or mentioning each other’s platforms. A popular way to use this strategy is posting (or re-posting) one another’s blog posts or social media posts. It’s a great way to tout your product in a way that is relatable and conversational. Content can be original to each brand or created in collaboration.
A huge benefit of this strategy is gaining SEO power for your website. With websites driving the digital marketplace, a high SEO ranking can make a huge difference when driving traffic, and ultimately sales, to your site.
Cross promotion is a type of partnership marketing between brands that have a similar customer base, allowing one of the brands (or both) to create a promotion for the other brand’s customers to use. An example of this would be a partnership between a cycling studio and a juice bar where the cycling studio offers a promotion code for the juice bar. This is also widely seen on airline booking sites that offer customers promotions for car rentals and hotels.
This partnership marketing strategy consists of a few brands that work together to promote their products to a collective audience. This strategy allows all of the partners to share their products with the other partners’ audiences. A sweepstakes is also a fun way for customers to be introduced to your brand and to feel like they’ve discovered something new. Set various parameters (tag a friend, share with your family, etc.) to increase a customer’s chances and let them help you spread the word!
Shameless plug: if you haven't already heard, DojoMojo has a set of tools that make it easy to run any sweepstakes.
Affiliate marketing is a type of partnership marketing where businesses reward partners (aka 'affiliates') with a commission for marketing or selling their products. Sometimes affiliates can even earn money by just facilitating certain actions like an email registration. An affiliate partner can be an individual, publisher, or anyone who drives traffic to a website. Most businesses use a third party to track and manage their affiliates and the rewards associated with their efforts.
This strategy is best seen in action with the popular shopping listacles and roundups that circulate social media news feeds. A number of large publications have even created specific verticals to reap the benefits of affiliate marketing including New York Magazine’s The Strategist and Hearst’s Best Products.
Subscription Boxes and Insert Swaps
This is another strategy increasing in popularity with the rise of subscription boxes. Brands can pay to have their products included in subscription services or have ads included in product deliveries of another brand. This allows for brands to introduce their products to a new and possibly untapped audience. Subscription boxes like Birchbox have created a dedicated pool of subscribers through distributing a revolving batch of products gained through brand partnerships.
Box-insert swaps are also a great way to introduce customers to your brand as seen with the product samples customers receive when ordering from companies like Amazon Fresh or Boxed. This is a direct way for potential customers to try your product or be incentivized to make a purchase.
Sponsoring is an easy way to get quick recognition with a specific audience through being associated with an event or a show. Visibility with a guaranteed crowd is the key benefit to this strategy. Brands who sponsor an event or show are usually included on pamphlets and on signage, allowing for brand visibility where there is sure to be a crowd. A few downsides to this strategy are that it can require a substantial monetary contribution, and it can be very difficult to measure the return on your investment, or ROI.
Well, there you have it! The wide spectrum of partnership marketing strategies is a testament to how flexible strategies can be to fit every type of business. Get creative and create a customized strategy to achieve your brand’s goals!