How to Unlock the Potential of Partnership Marketing

Gaining traction as a startup can be a pretty long and tough process. You’ve got to invest time and money, often getting little return for your hard work. Audience building can be demoralising if you don’t have a structured plan or approach. Thankfully, we have a secret weapon up our sleeves that can seriously boost your efforts. Partnership marketing can open doors to thousands of new consumers in a short space of time. Here’s everything you need to know about this type of affiliate campaign.
How to Unlock the Potential of Partnership Marketing

What Actually Is Partnership Marketing?

It sounds complicated but actually the premise is really simple. Partnership marketing is the act of seeking out and working with likeminded businesses that target the same customer. Obviously you’re not looking for a brand that competes with your business. Instead, seek out a brand that you know your customer already buys from.

How Can Partnership Marketing Help My Brand?

There are plenty of reasons why partnership marketing is a successful strategy for businesses. This goes further than the just the obvious:
  • It opens the door to a wider audience
  • It adds validity and reputation to new brands
  • It adds value to customers
  • It allows you to tap into the values/message of your partner brand

Partnership Marketing in Practice

Ryan Leighton Quote - CEO Leightons Group - Partnership Marketing
There are plenty of great partnership marketing examples out there. Here are a few of our favourites:

Red Bull & GoPro

There’s a reason why we love this partnership so much. When Red Bull and GoPro teamed up, it proved that even global heavyweights can benefit from a collaborative campaign. Both brands are hugely successful and popular in the extreme sports sector. This agreement saw joint production of content, distribution, cross-promotion and product innovation. Red Bull received equity in GoPro while GoPro became Red Bull’s exclusive provider of POV image technology.

iSuperdrive & JetLogic

This is the perfect example of two complementary services teaming up to provide the ultimate experience. iSuperdrive offers luxury/supercar rentals while JetLogic supplies luxury aviation services. Both target the same audience of corporates, industry, governments and individuals. By partnering together they’re able to provide their customers with a seamless service which appeals to all aspects of their lifestyle.
Partnership Marketing iSuperdrive and Jetlogic

Uber & Spotify

This collaboration proves that often the best partnerships are not the most obvious. Putting user experience at the forefront of the campaign, these companies teamed up to allow Spotify premium users to stream music during an Uber ride. Announced shortly after both software companies received negative publicity for their business models, this development helps to change perception of both brands. “There’s a mutual win/win on this one”said Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick. 

Research, Research, Research

Xaver Matt - MD Netleadz - Partnership Marketing
If you’ve read any of our previous startup advice blogs, you’ll know we’re huge advocates for research. The truth is, anything you do in business needs to be justified by facts. You need to understand the market. This is especially important for partnership marketing.
Think outside the box when it comes to potential collaborations. If you’re struggling with this, look towards your target customers. What are their buying habits? Are there any complementary sectors you could leverage? Look towards where similar brands can be found. If you’re stuck, these are the channels you should be checking out:
  • Trade publications
  • Industry blogs
  • Industry associations
  • Trade shows and events
  • Social Media
  • Collaboration portals
Once you’ve found a potential partner study them. Consider their content production, products/services, target audience and overall message. Finally, before making any approach, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is their service/product relevant to your audience?
  • Do you agree with the brand’s values/message?
  • What can you bring to the table?

Time to Approach

So you’ve settled on the perfect brand, now you need to get them to notice you. Trust us, this isn’t simple. Social media is the best place to start. Most brands will have an active social media presence. Like and share their posts. Comment on the content they produce – get them to notice you. 
When you’ve courted them for a short period of time on social media, it’s time to open communications. Direct messaging can be a great informal way of getting in touch. Having said this, email is just as effective. If the brand’s marketing is managed by an agency, it’s worth finding out who this is and contacting them directly.

Start Simple

Nick Lyons Quote - CEO Kaptur Software - Partnership Marketing
There’s no point diving head first into any collaboration. Start simple until you can gauge the return on your investment. A social media competition or series of blogs is a perfect way to get started.
A great example of a company using collaborations on this small scale is the ecommerce brand Eatapas. The online retailer for authentic Spanish produce has a strong blog but wanted to become a genuine influencer in the Spanish food sector. To do this, they reached out to other key players in the field. This ranged from Spanish culture bloggers to food bloggers and even numerous Spanish restaurants in London. Throughout this period of outreach they opened the door to different levels of partnership:
  • They placed numerous blogs on leading sites
  • They welcomed key influencers to blog on their site
  • They created a recipe section for restaurants to publicise innovative dishes
  • They ran numerous collaborative social media competitions

Eatapas Partnership Marketing - Spain for Pleasure

This is an example of a brand using simple forms of partnership marketing to boost their own profile, gain a wider audience and become a well-known name in an industry.

Be Clear About Your Objectives

When it comes to discussing a potential campaign, it’s important to be up-front. Don’t be covert about your objectives. There’s no shame is saying you want to tap into a younger audience, edgier vibe or more approachable brand message. It’s important to have a list of clear objectives and to discuss how these will be fulfilled. If both brands are honest with each other, it’ll be easier to deliver a successful campaign.

Analyse the Data

Barry Bridges Quote - CEO Property Detective - Partnership Marketing
When undertaking any form of partnership marketing, you need to understand how it’s affecting your brand. If you have a firm understanding of the campaign’s performance, you’ll be able to adapt future marketing strategies. There are numerous ways a partnership could boost your brand, consider how the following have been affected:
  • Brand visibility
  • Audience size/reach
  • Credibility
  • Trust among consumers
  • Marketing costs
  • Data insights
  • Conversion rates
  • Brand relationships
The first step to analysing the data is settling on which metrics are important to you. It could be click-throughs from social media, it could be site traffic, maybe subscriptions or even conversions. Furthermore, you could be interested in a more abstract metric like credibility or trust. Once you’ve highlighted the metrics to analyse, you can compare the success of partnered campaigns in comparison to those you’ve done alone.
Understanding the data will allow you to decide whether the collaboration is working as you’d hoped. If this isn’t the case, it gives the opportunity to alter your approach. With the right processes in place partnership marketing will open doors and expand your brand’s reach. 
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If you need some direction with your partnership marketing campaign we can help. At Netleadz we offer the full spectrum of Digital Marketing services including content, paid media, social media and SEO. Find out more about how we can boost your brand’s online presence here.

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