“ …During challenging economic periods, the power of marketing partnerships brings expanded credibility and a cost-efficient means to gain distribution.” – Gregory Pollack, PBM Marketing Solutions

Marketing partnerships evolved from a need to accomplish business goals outside of a single entity’s capacity. They allow businesses to leverage complementary strengths and customer bases.

Below is a brief overview of various types of marketing partnerships. See which is right for your business, and happy reading!

Looking for tips on how to promote your partnership? Visit our guide on how to market your partnership.

Distribution Marketing Partnership

One of the biggest differences between a traditional distribution partnership and a distribution marketing partnership is that with a distribution marketing partnership partners work together in a greater, more integrated capacity with efforts focusing on the transaction and beyond, while traditional distribution relationships focus only on the transaction itself.

Examples of distribution marketing partnerships:

  • Utilizing co-marketing and co-advertising across various channels in an effort to increase sales and brand recognition
  • Using added value propositions to support and supplement core offerings via unique offers to the partners’ customers
  • Each partner leverages the others’ brand assets and core competencies to drive innovation that benefits target customers
  • Developing new products and their subsequent launches
  • Collaborating on new market research

Added Value Marketing Partnership

Added value marketing partnerships are very similar to distribution marketing partnerships. The main difference, however, between the two partnership types is that distribution marketing partnerships do not provide the end customer with a free, added-value offering from a partner brand.

While distribution marketing partnerships generally have a re-sale or customer acquisition function, added value marketing partnerships solely add value to an existing offering in order to enhance the offer. The promotional tactics and strategies behind distribution marketing partnerships and added value partnerships may end up being very similar, but the end offer to the customer will be different.

Sponsorship Marketing Partnership

Sponsorships are one of the most common ways partnering businesses drive dual brand recognition. In a typical sponsorship, one partner pays to place its brand on the materials of a partner company or gives an in-kind donation of some sort. This is especially useful if one of the brands is more well-known than their partner. The lesser-known partner benefits by leaning on the credibility and the audience of the larger brand. In return, the larger brand is receiving some form of compensation, usually monetary.

While this may seem like an ideal situation, especially for the smaller brand, both partners would do well to conduct proper due diligence to make sure that there is a parallel between their brands so that customers do not feel alienated by the new, incoming brand.

Affinity Marketing Partnership

This can be very similar to a distribution marketing partnership. Here, businesses send their partners’ audiences highly targeted, unique offers. These offers generally contain products and/or services that align with the consumers’ purchasing habits and/or preferences.

An easy example of this is when a university and a credit card company work together. The credit card company is looking to establish a new user base: namely, new college students who have never had a credit card before. So they partner with a university to offer their special product, such as a credit card developed especially for university students, to all incoming freshmen. The card would most likely be branded with the university’s logo, and special incentives are offered to students when they use their credit card to pay for goods at certain places like the campus bookstore, neighborhood restaurants, etc.

Affinity marketing partnerships allow the partner brands to join together to offer unique discounts, services and/or products to highly targeted, segmented audiences relevant to the partners’ brands, as such an audience will have a high propensity for purchasing the offering.

Affiliate Marketing Partnership

Chances are you’re already familiar with affiliate programs – you just might not recognize it as such. Each time you see a person or business offering a promotion from a company that is not their own through a blog, Instagram, Twitter, etc., chances are it’s part of an affiliate program. These are programs offered via intermediaries between two partners with the intent of helping one company spread its messaging through another entity.

Typically the company that wishes to promote its products is an e-commerce or online seller (or at least has an arm that does that). Through the affiliate program, they use their partner’s network of thousands (and sometimes millions) to reach an extended audience.

Companies that offer affiliate programs allow these e-commerce or online sellers to tap into their partner network of thousands of websites where the transactional relationship consists of one company offering a commission or referral fee to another when a user does a given action on the first company’s site.

For example: Company X has a blog about sports, and Company Y sells sports gear. Via an affiliate program, Company Y finds Company X and joins them as an affiliate. In this scenario, for every client who visits Company Y’s site and makes a purchase as a result of Company X’s referral, Company X will receive a commission.

Many websites offer affiliate programs; three of the most well-known are Commission Junction, LinkShare and ShareASale.