Marketing Partnerships: 6 Crucial Elements

marketing partnerships

“In today’s competitive world of brand marketing, using the power of marketing partnerships to gain exposure and utilize new distribution channels is not only smart but also an essential marketing tool for businesses who want to remain competitive in today’s constantly changing marketplace.

Partnership brand marketing programs provide a way to grow your business, acquire new customers and reach new market segments.” –Empire Creative Marketing

It is no secret that strategic partnerships are a crucial part of business development and growth. By providing vehicles for tapping into new customer segments, markets and even new product lines, strategic marketing partnerships bring businesses more and more ways to grow – especially when they incorporate strategic marketing plans.

Ultimately, long-lasting partnerships evolve with consistent nurturing and diligence on the part of many teams. When it comes to increasing customer awareness, driving brand development and gaining new sales, the marketing teams involved are an important factor. Marketing continues to play an ever-growing role in marketing partnerships and alliances, and there are many tactics and activities that marketers employ to help derive the highest value possible from every partnership.

Below are a selection of elements and marketing strategy examples that, when combined, can help drive successful marketing partnerships or strategic alliances.

Marketing Partnership Strategies

In order to derive long-term success from marketing partnerships, businesses need to carefully define their goals before entering into one. As the partnership goes on, businesses must monitor results and make meaningful adjustments. Here are six ways businesses are finding success through strategic marketing partnerships.

1. Finding the Right Marketing Partnerships

Gaining a clear understanding of a potential partner’s resources and goals is essential before creating a formal partnership, as these will form the base of any goals for a future alliance. Additionally, identifying the synergies between partners will help determine the marketing activities both sides are capable of and how to set execute upon goals.

2. Establishing a Marketing Plan

Establishing a partnership’s marketing goals – then breaking them down into manageable activities and deliverables from the start – is an important first step after entering into a partnership.

It is important to strive for the inherent value built into marketing partnerships, which should be experienced by all partners. The benefits derived by member businesses must be lucrative enough to drive a continuous stream of marketing activities, which in turn allows the strategic alliance to rise to its full potential.

These benefits might include:

  • Financial: For instance in the form of a commission, revenue sharing or even multiple revenue streams
  • Enhanced brand awareness and promotion: Such as via co-branded marketing materials and events
  • Increased customer base: Cross promotion and co-branded marketing can help drive customers from one partner to another. Since the pooled customer base is already aligned with at least one of the partners, they are predisposed to find value in businesses that are strategic aligned with the original one. This is a great outcome for businesses in strategic partnerships because an increased customer base usually results in increased sales and enhanced revenue.

What is important to keep in mind when scheduling marketing activities for a strategic alliance is to develop programs that create value for each partner.

3. Leveraging a Partner’s Audience and Reach

Alliance marketing brings businesses access to new customers in segments they previously did not compete in. These new opportunities can increase potential marketing reach and ultimately lead to a gain in customers. In fact many alliances create a flow of loyal customers between alliance members, increasing overall business for the members of the alliance. When each business markets its new alliance to its customers, those customers are more likely to heed referrals for the partner company’s products and services.

A hypothetical example of this type of audience leveraging would be for a local caterer to develop an exclusive relationship with a specialized bakery. In their alliance, the caterer and bakery would agree to collaboratively promote each other’s business. Over time the partners might move past merely promoting each others’ goods and services and add in referral fees or and discount deals for each other’s services to their marketing and promotions mix.

4. Short- vs Long-Term Goals and Gains

Overall, it’s important to remember that strategic alliances take time to develop. Short-term gains generally do not justify the costs and risks associated with setting up a full-fledged partnership; rather, a partnership will bring payback in value and revenue over a longer period of time. Though partners should not expect to see all of their goals fulfilled early on, they must still must hold each other accountable for deliverables and sticking to deadlines.

A marketing roadmap, complete with goals and deadlines, will help make developing these goals and activities much more manageable. I’m a huge fan of putting together an activities sheet complete with individual points and corresponding deadlines as well as the person responsible for executing each activity. These kind of charts easily help me to identify who may have too much or too little work and helps to keep each of the activities moving along smoothly.

5. Measuring and Reporting Results

Measuring and reporting results is quite possibly the most important part of the marketing process. Without timely and accurate reporting, businesses will not be able to measure successful outcomes of any of their marketing initiatives. It is therefore essential to map out the “how” and “where” of reporting, and each partner should create a timeline for reporting their results.

As any good marketer knows, data is one of the most important deciding factors in pursuing, continuing or dropping a particular activity or set of activities.

6. Customizing Activities

Each partnership should be approached with an eye to customized detail. This way all parties involved will reap benefits, value and new customers. Customization of the marketing activities are crucial for long-term iterations and overall success rates realized by all partners.

The Recipe for Marketing Partnerships

These six points are just a few suggestions for strategic marketing partnerships. With the right partner, comprehensive planning and a strong collaboration between the marketing teams involved, strategic alliances can take businesses to the next level of sales and growth.

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Featured image by Giuseppe Milo