The Dos and Don’ts of Partnership Marketing

by Burke Dorman
3 mins read
Hands holding puzzle pieces

With so much exposure to new information online and with so many ways to access it, businesses today are forced to compete with millions of other companies to grasp the attention of their target audience. So how do you get your business to stand out amongst the noise and also resonate with your consumers? One solution is to partner with another business that shares your company mission and to undertake a joint marketing campaign.

As a small business, you may be struggling to dedicate the time and money necessary for your marketing efforts to successfully grow your business. Partnership marketing is a great alternative to taking on this endeavour alone, as it means working alongside another business and combining your resources to create a mutually beneficial strategy.

While this type of marketing can create success for your small business, there are many things to keep in mind when partnering up with another company. Elite Digital has compiled the top dos and don’ts of partnership marketing to help bring success to your small business.

The Dos of Partnership Marketing

Target market

DO Determine Your Target Clients

The first step to collaborating with a partner is determining who that partner is; what business or company are you trying to connect with in order to collaboratively generate a successful marketing strategy? Think about who you’re trying to attract in terms of the type of organization, industry, size and customer base. What company would be most beneficial to helping increase your brand awareness and customer acquisition? 

Once you’ve defined your target clients, determine the kind of offer you plan to present that’s most likely to interest them. A partnership marketing strategy needs to be mutually beneficial for all parties involved; think about the potential struggles your target clients currently face or could improve and identify how affiliating with your brand could help to fill the gaps in their business strategy. How would partnering with your brand bring success to their company? 

People shaking hands

DO Leverage Industry Relationships

One of the greatest benefits of partnership marketing is being better able to reach your desired customer base. While you’re searching for appropriate clients to partner with, conduct thorough research to find the businesses that not only share your company mission but also have pre-existing relationships with the customers you’re trying to reach. 

Think about the products and services that are often purchased in conjunction with your own and would be an appropriate pairing for a similar target market. For example, if your company sells home furniture, it may be beneficial to pair up with an interior design service since you will be targeting the same customer base. In order to leverage these industry relationships and build your customer reach, ensure you’ve properly defined your audience and share this target group with your partner(s).  

Group huddle

DO Share the Workload

Once you’ve found an appropriate brand to partner with and have determined your shared objectives, it’s important to thoroughly outline the terms of the coming workload. A partnership is bound to be unsuccessful if there’s an imbalanced relationship and one company is doing more than another. 

Of course, flexibility is a necessity when it comes to co-branding, since every company will have a different way of doing things. That being said, things are bound to flow a lot more smoothly if everyone involved has the same workload expectations from the get-go. Keep in mind your joint objectives, budget, target market and timeline to create a fair and realistic workload division before you get to work.

Hourglass next to calendar

DO Be Patient

Partnership marketing is an excellent and innovative strategy to growing your company and building your client base; but don’t assume that it’s going to be immediately transformative or the answer to all your problems. Successful partnership marketing takes time and it’s worth constructing a quality co-branded campaign rather than rushing to broadcast your name beside that of your partner. 

What’s more, it’s equally crucial to be patient when finding clients to partner with and pitching your campaign ideas. It may take time to find a company that shares your brand values and goals but it’s a necessary step to creating a successful campaign.

The Don’ts of Partnership Marketing

Person carrying an apple and an orange

DON’T Force a Partnership

While successful partnership marketing can be extremely beneficial for some businesses, co-branding for the sake of co-branding can be dangerous. Any forced relationship in business is likely to be destructive and end badly for both parties, and the same rule applies for partnership marketing. 

Make sure the company you’ve chosen to pair up with is relevant to your brand and that consumers will recognize the affiliation — did you choose to partner with the company because they have a recognizable brand name or because they have a product or service that correlates with your own?

Two people using building blocks

DON’T Rely On Solely On Your Partner 

The key thing to remember about partnership marketing is that co-branding is a team effort and requires the collaboration of everyone involved. 

That being said, it can be dangerous to assume that your partners will adhere to your expectations of an equally divided workload. Don’t rely on your partner brands to complete the work and instead, focus on the success of your company and the tasks at hand that will help you get there. As previously mentioned, try to avoid this situation by determining shared objectives and marketing expectations prior to your partnership. However, don’t assume this pre-partnership meeting will ensure a fair workload division.

Businesspeople playing tug of war

DON’T Team Up With Similar Brands

While it’s important that you and your partners have similar business objectives, strive to team up with brands that aren’t exactly the same as your own. 

One of the benefits of partnership marketing is being able to fill in each other’s business gaps and pairing with a brand that’s too similar to your own can seriously hinder this ability. Instead of filling in these gaps, you’re more likely to share the same weaknesses and have little insight on how to improve them. 

As well, partnering with a brand that offers the same value to customers as your own can result in creating more competition for your company. While partnership marketing has the ability to increase your customer acquisition, pairing up with too similar a brand may instead force you to share and therefore decrease your customer base.

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