Partner Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for 2021
Are you wondering if you need to try a different business technique or tactic?
Or maybe you want to dust off and remove some of the old marketing approaches, to bring in a fresh, new approach?
Mmm… something to think about right!
Take a guess how many B2B marketing strategies exist today? There are a lot. Some strategies, such as affiliate, content and word of mouth marketing are often utilized by businesses. However, partnership marketing is one that often goes unnoticed.
Maybe partnership marketing is something you haven’t tried before or you already have partners and are looking to improve your existing partner relationships.
Well, wherever you may or may not be, you may just be in the right place at the right time!
For this guide, we worked with the partnership marketing experts at PartnerCentric. Drawing on their extensive experience developing and implementing successful partnership marketing campaigns, we will take you through all you need to understand about this unique and very effective way of marketing.
If you want to find the perfect partner and plan to build a strong partner relationship, then keep reading!
What is Partnership Marketing?
Partnership marketing is a collaborative relationship that is established between two or more firms, allowing each firm to reach its respective business objectives.
Such partnerships can be set up over specific marketing campaigns over different periods.
On the other hand, a partnership can be developed over a longer period. It all depends on the type of partnership and the unique marketing goals of each firm.
The Main Types of Partner Marketing
There are a range of different types of partnership marketing approaches to choose from, however, there are some main types worth giving a bash!
Affiliate marketing is a mutually-beneficial strategy which involves collaboration with a publisher, such as a brand, blogger or website.
In this instance, the publisher will advertise and promote your product or service to their respective audience. This can also be seen as a commission-based marketing approach.
In this strategy, the publisher (i.e. partner) will receive a commission, either through the acquired revenue or leads made or the clicks performed. This is a wonderful win-win partnership marketing approach, as both parties benefit through this tactic.
Distribution partnership marketing is when a certain brand will bundle up another brands products or services among their own products or services. And in some cases, a brand will also cross-market both products or services to their own customer base.
The main advantage of this business technique, is that it builds customer trust. A customer who uses a certain brand’s products, will be more open to trying another brands’ products, if they see them advertised together.
This type of strategy can be beneficial for both business parties, trying to increase their customer loyalty and reach.
Cross-promotion is a type of partnership marketing strategy, where business partners will promote each other to their particular audiences. Or where each of the partners will perform joint-marketing tasks.
You can both send a newsletter to each of your audiences, introducing them to the new partnership and then promoting each other’s tools and services. This way you will both be advertising to a similar audience and not competing against each other.
How to Choose the Right Partner
When you decide to give partnership marketing a go, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind that this is not a fast process.
Finding the ideal marketing partner can take some time, so don’t try to rush into anything quickly.
It can also be a very productive exercise for your business, as it will present opportunities to meet other businesses and to expand your existing network.
Now let’s take you through some of the key steps of selecting the right marketing partner.
Define Your Marketing Objectives
Before you start searching for a partner, make sure that you have clearly articulated what your brand wants to achieve through your potential business partnership.
This will help inform your search. Once you have set up your partnership, you can also go back a reassess whether the relationship is meeting these objectives.
Find a Company With Common Ground
This common ground must include a very similar audience to your company. This is very important, as this could lead to future problems if this is not clearly defined from the beginning. In essence, their target audience must be in the same sector and industry as your target audience.
Additional common ground includes having similar values to your company. This will ensure that you both can build on a similar foundation.
It is also worth offering products or services that are complementary to one another.
Research, Research and More Research
And, you guessed it, more research! When it comes to finding a great partner, this is when research counts a great deal. Whatever a potential partner does in the future, will reflect either positively on negatively on your brand, so this is an important decision for you to make.
Start by reading up on all the reviews you can find of the companies that spark your interest. Then be sure to ask for references. Try to get an opinion from an outside third party on what they think of the partner you are planning to approach.
And finally, ask to see their buyer persona. It will also be an advantage if you have your own to provide to potential partners.
Identify Any Potential Conflicts of Interest
Once you have found a company with more common ground than other companies, it is good to start identifying if there are any potential conflicts that may arise. For starters, avoid a brand that will result in direct competition to your brand.
You will also need to determine who would own particular leads? And how would the profits be shared? Make sure that all these matters are ironed out early on.
Define Fair Expectations and an Even Workload Spread
Make sure that you both clearly articulate the responsibilities for each partner and what the expected outcomes are for each of those responsibilities.
It’s no good being ‘wishy-washy’ when it comes to responsibilities, and each partner must receive an equal share. This means that both parties must input the same amount of time and resources to get their jobs done.
Play to Your Specific Strengths
While it is good to have an equal share of responsibilities, it is not necessary to split them right down the middle.
Simply make sure that each partner is able to use their particular expertise or strengths in the relationship. Both of you will be specialists in certain areas, so make sure you focus on those strengths unique to you.
Develop a Feedback Loop
It’s important that a space is created where feedback can be provided. So ensure that you and your various stakeholders gather together on a regular basis to talk over how things are going.
It will also be good to give each stakeholder a turn to chair the meeting. Basically everyone needs to feel heard.
Create that Personal Touch
While it is about business, it’s also about a personal relationship. Take the time to get to know your partners – who are they, what are their likes and dislikes? What’s their pet’s name?
This might sound odd, but it’s always worth having that personal connection when it comes to business. This might just be the glue that holds it all together!
7 Benefits of Partner Marketing
There are many significant benefits to partnership marketing and here are some of them:
1. Branching into New Markets
Partnering with another brand will enable you to reach a new market, that you wouldn’t have been able to reach before.
This opens up new opportunities for growth and greater productivity for your brand.
You can also sit back and enjoy the benefits of a customer base that will more easily trust your brand, due to the trust they already have for your partner.
You will also be marketing to an audience that will already be interested in your type of brand. This can maximize your marketing efforts, with the least amount of input.
2. Providing Fresh Perspectives
By working with a marketing partner, you will be exposing yourself and your team to some different and new outlooks on marketing.
Perhaps there are a few gaps that you might have missed that need improvement? Or maybe there’s something completely out of the ordinary that you hadn’t thought of before?
The great advantage of partner marketing is that each partner can use it as an opportunity to learn from each other and to gather wisdom from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
3. More Cost-effective than Traditional Marketing Channels
It’s worth keeping in mind that the industry is moving closer to a pay-per-performance model, and away from a pay-per-ad and impression model.
So in the case of partnership marketing, it will now be easier to measure your ROI based on how a particular post performs, as opposed to measuring social media metrics, such as likes, shares and comments etc. This will be more relevant to the affiliate partnership marketing strategy.
For some partner strategies a swap can also be included, which can save costs and benefit both partners.
Partnership marketing also requires less financial risk on your part, as only a small fee or commission will be required. This will be more relevant to the affiliate type of partnership marketing.
4. Provides You with a Support System
It is comforting from time to time to know that you are not alone in the marketing game!
When you succeed, your partner succeeds with you and this just highlights how mutually beneficial this type of marketing relationship is.
The true benefit comes when you find a partner who is open and communicates clearly with you from the start.
5. Targeting Customers at the Ideal Time
Through cross-promotion, you are more likely to be noticed when a customer makes a purchase from your partner and stumbles across your brand at the same time.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!
For example, when driving with Uber you can tune into Spotify and listen to songs through them while driving. And when booking flights, you might also notice a hotel ad popping up and recommendation a stay with them near your destination.
The opportunities are endless.
6. Delivering Added Value to Your Brand
When partnering with a trusted brand, you will be adding greater value to your existing brand.
Whether it’s through developing new content, making necessary improvements or doing a content swap, customers are more likely to take notice and to become more attracted to your brand.
It can only be beneficial when you open up new avenues of interest and strive to enrich your brand even more than before.
7. Building Your Brand Identity
Partnerships open up the opportunity of brand association.
For smaller brands, partnering with a larger brand means they will be able to reach a much wider audience. On the flip side, a larger brand can benefit by reaching a more specific, niche audience, by partnering with a smaller brand.
It’s through these types of partnerships, that customers might begin to associate better with your brand, if they see you partnering with a unique or more popular brand.
Examples of Successful Partner Marketing
Wondering what successful other examples are out there when it comes to partner marketing? Well check these well-known partnerships to get some inspiration…
BMW and Louis Vuitton
The partnership between BMW and Louis Vuitton is a great example of big giants coming together for a joint purpose. Both of their types of customers strive for luxury and comfort, so what better way to target their audience than co-branding their retail products.
These two created a four-piece luggage collection, retailing for $20 000, which was designed to fit perfectly into the trunk of the BMW i8. Now that’s what I call luxury!
AirBnb And Flipboard
I bet most of you have heard of Airbnb, but not as many will know about the social network aggregator, Flipboard. In this partnership marketing example, these two got together to create new content and in turn promoted each other to each of their audiences.
Thanks to Airbnb, Flipboard was able to greatly increase their number of users.
H&M and Balmain
Over the years the Swedish retailer H&M have been known to collaborate with a number of different luxury fashion designers. Perhaps the best example is when they partnered with the Balmain clothing collection in 2015.
This clothing collection was launched onto the H&M website and their brick and mortar stores had queues that could be seen far and wide.
Every year H&M collaborates with these types of designer brands, allowing their customers to pay for designer clothing items at a fraction of the price. Now that’s a win win partnership!
Red Bull and GoPro
Back in 2012, when GoPro was a really big deal, they partnered with Red Bull to support Australian skydiving legend, Felix Baumgartner. Here the two brands collaborated to capture his record-breaking jump from a 24 mile high balloon.
This turned out to be quite the enthralling take, captured on GoPro, and both brands received a great deal of exposure through this partnership.
3 Partner Marketing Software
Partner management software provides businesses with a set of tools to help them manage their various business responsibilities. These tools enable them to track sales and affiliates, as well as streamline communication between partners.
Lets take you through some of the best partner marketing software available for you to use!
Tapfiliate is a customizable, cloud-based Affiliate Tracking Software that allows you to develop and track your affiliate marketing campaigns. You can successfully automate a number of tasks, such as tracking, managing commissions and marketing across different levels.
You will also be happy to know that Tapfiliate can be integrated with over 30 different e-commerce and digital marketing platforms. It is also very easy to implement for those who are not familiar with management software.
- Simple to set up and manage
- Very responsive customer service
- Can be easily integrated with different platforms
- 14 day free trial available
- Can only support a limited number of languages
- A bit pricey
- A free version of the software is not available
Pricing: Starting at 69$/month up to 499$/month
Post Affiliate Pro is one of the pioneers in affiliate software, used by many e-commerce websites and online stores. This great software allows you to easily manage and engage with your affiliate partners. You can also monitor a number of tasks, such as commission payouts, affiliate automation and different online payment options.
In addition, you will have access to over 170 major Content Management Systems (CMS), such as Stripe and PayPal, with WordPress and Shopify also included.
- Provides a great affiliate tracking system
- User-friendly for managing affiliates
- Flexible and customizable user interface
- Allows for detailed reports and data analysis
- Responsive and engaging customer service
- Supports a number of different languages
- A bit on the pricey side
Pricing: Starting at 97$/month up to 477$/month
LeadDyno is a user-friendly affiliate management platform that provides great support for running successful affiliate marketing campaigns. The system is easily integrated with third-party websites and platforms, which is a huge plus when needing a smooth workflow.
Other huge attractions include email automation, conversion tracking, payout management and detailed reporting functions.
- Provides a long 30 day trial for users
- Very simple to sign up and use features
- Easy for influencers to use
- Easy to integrate with social media platforms and e-commerce stores
- Unfortunately provides poor customer service
Pricing: Starting at 49$/month up to 79$/month
So, Where to From Here?
Choosing a brand partner can be a wonderful venture for your business. But as we have stated before, it does involve some big, critical decisions.
It can either take your brand to greater, new heights or in some rare cases, it could open up some difficult challenges for your brand. That’s why you will need to do your ‘homework’ thoroughly and take all the necessary steps to find the perfect partner.
Start by finding a partner with the same brand positioning – such as having a similar type of audience and then check whether their values match up to yours.
Then reach out and start the conversation with brands that stand out to you the most. If nothing comes of it today or tomorrow, either way, you would have met some other brands in a similar industry, and you would have made some great, new connections.
This could even turn into some wonderful, meaningful partnerships in the future.
So don’t stop knocking on those doors!
Who knows where those ideal partners could be waiting for you?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is partnership marketing?
Partnership marketing is a collaborative relationship that is formed between two or more firms, in which they help each other to reach their unique business objectives. Take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to set up a successful partnership marketing strategy for your business.
What are the main partnership marketing types?
There are many types of partnership marketing strategies, but the main types include affiliate marketing, distribution partnership and cross promotion. For a complete understanding on how each of these function, go and check out our full partnership marketing article.
What are the best tools for partner marketing?
The best tools to help manage and monitor a partner marketing program, are Tapfiliate, Post Affiliate Pro and LeadDyno. If you're interested in seeing what makes these so great and how to effectively use them, go and see our complete partnership marketing article.
What is partnership marketing: https://streamline-marketing.com/what-is-partnership-marketing/
Partnership marketing types and benefits: https://www.bluleadz.com/blog/partnership-marketing
Main types of partnership marketing: https://www.business2community.com/marketing/10-types-of-partnership-marketing-that-drive-sales-02327730
How to choose the right partner: https://www.cobloom.com/blog/how-to-choose-the-right-saas-co-marketing-partner#
Great examples of co-marketing: https://www.bluleadz.com/blog/10-great-examples-of-co-marketing-partnerships-that-work