Will Partnership Marketing Work for Your Business?

Partnership Marketing May 12, 2019

If you’re wondering whether partnership marketing will work for you, the answer is a resounding yes. Provided, that is, you find a good partner and structure the right kind of partnership. Your success isn’t determined by the size of your company or your industry vertical — it’s more about strategically connecting with other brands in authentic ways to grow your own audience.

As long as you have an asset you can barter with, you can form a successful partnership. Usually, that asset takes the form of one of three things: audience, relationships, or capital. Whatever you contribute, the most important thing is that all partners feel that the relationship is equitable — that each brand is carrying its own weight.

What do you bring to the table?

The assets you can barter will determine what kind of partnership will work for you because there are prerequisites for certain kinds of partnerships. For instance, you can’t run a giveaway unless you have some sort of built-in audience. Swapping subscription box inserts only works if you have a physical product you can ship. A sponsorship, on the other hand, just requires capital.

Don’t despair if you don’t have the money for paid advertising or the ready audience for a giveaway — there’s still a lot you can contribute. For example, you could be the one doing the logistical heavy lifting by bringing all the partners together for a giveaway (this is called “hosting” or “sponsoring”). Think creatively about what kind of asset you bring to the table and how it can be economically measured, whether it’s audience, product, brand association, actual dollars, or even simply having your logo appear next to another brand’s.

Creating an equitable partnership often means mixing and matching several assets. Let’s say you have an email list smaller than other partners on a giveaway; in that case, you may be the one contributing the most valuable prizing, or you have perhaps taken on the responsibility of hosting the campaign. Put together, these efforts can make your partners feel you are carrying your own weight, even if your actual reach is significantly smaller than theirs. As long as your asset complements your partner’s, you’re on your way to a win.

But what about ...

Here are some of the concerns we most commonly hear when someone isn’t sure whether they can — or should — spend time building marketing partnerships:

‘No one else has the same audience.’

It’s true that perfect audiences rarely exist, but that doesn’t mean nobody’s audience overlaps with yours. Focus on core demographic similarities (age, sex, geography) that represent your archetypal customer as opposed to extremely specific personas (a 36-year-old mother of two in New York or Los Angeles). You’ll still capture a fair portion of your perfect target persona within broader demographic ranges. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good: Find a partner with a solid audience alignment, even if it’s not an exact match.

‘Nike doesn’t want to partner with me.’

A partnership with Coke or Apple might sound like a fantastic idea, but realistically, what do you have to contribute? If your brand is just getting started, it’s better to find a partner roughly similar to you in size and scale. Even if they’re not household names, these partners can be perfect for those just getting started in building marketing partnerships. Everybody wants to work with an established brand like theSkimm — but theSkimm wants to work with other well-vetted brands that have big audiences of their own. Start small and have confidence that the flywheel will take over; in time, you’ll have enough pull and audience to attract those prestige brands.

‘I don’t have time to find a partner.’

Forming a partnership takes substantial work, but finding the right partner doesn’t have to be hard — especially if you take advantage of programs like DojoMojo or a great CRM. Being organized and thoughtful about your outreach is important, and leveraging the tools available to you will dramatically streamline the process. While there’s certainly a learning curve that might slow your roll at first, you’ll get it down to a science over time. As with any new skill, the first time out may be a slog. The second go-round will feel easier, and it’ll be a breeze by your fourth and fifth time.

Ultimately, any size business in any industry can reap the benefits of partnership marketing. You just need to find that sweet spot where every partner is happy with the others’ contributions. Finding those symbiotic collaborations is much easier with the tool that will help you identify which brands complement you best.

Interested in help finding the right partners? Click here to start your free trial and to get growing.