Partnership Marketing

E-commerce Future Belongs to Partnership Marketing

Partnership marketing is ushering in a new era of collaboration and innovation for e-commerce brands seeking exponential growth.

Curious to learn how Collabs can transform your business?

Collabs are well known in the fashion industry.  For example, Nike collabing with a designer to create a unique product. Partnership marketing is similar and a beneficial and long-term strategy for businesses of all sizes. By collaborating with like-minded businesses and influencers, you can reach new audiences and grow your business exponentially.

According to a survey:

55% of businesses said that partnerships are an important growth channel

• 50% of companies said that collaborations are critical for increasing brand awareness

• 42% of brands said that partner marketing improves customer retention

When executed properly, partnership marketing significantly expands your audience and grows sales in a meaningful way. Read on for a rundown of the basics of co-marketing, the benefits of collabs, and the 6 best techniques for partnership marketing audience growth you can use to reach new audiences right now.

What is Partnership Marketing?

Partnership marketing, also known as partner marketing, collaborative marketing, co-marketing, or simply Collabs as we like to say here at Subkit, is a strategic collaboration between two entities (mostly businesses) to achieve individual and mutual marketing objectives.

Marketing partnerships help you achieve goals, and even exceed them exponentially when you multiply your impact with the right partners.

For example, reaching new audiences in a new target market to grow your customer base is quite a challenging task for any business. But if you collab with the right partner who has access to the same audience already, you can reach new audiences more quickly and easily – and with instant credibility from your partner.

Types of Partnership Marketing

Collaborative marketing includes the following main types:

  1. Affiliate marketing: Your partner businesses sell your products to their audience for a fixed commission per sale or lead
  2. Cross-selling and cross-promotion: Both partners promote partner products to their customers
  3. Co-branding: Two companies collaborate to create a new product
  4. Product bundling: Products from different companies are bundled together and sold to the end users
  5. Product placement: One company pays another company for placing a product in front of the audience
  6. Licensing: A company gives a license to another company for product manufacturing and selling for a free
  7. Referral partnerships: One brand recommends another company to its customers and vice versa
  8. Influencer marketing: A brand collaborates and partners with influencers for marketing
  9. Sponsorships: Brand partnerships where a business sponsors another entity
  10. Loyalty programs: A business awards its customers for sending referral customers
  11. Joint ventures: Strategic partnerships where two businesses join hands to create a new brand or product in a new market

Co-Marketing Benefits

The primary benefits of partnership marketing are:

How to Grow Audience with Partnership Marketing

Here are the best ways to reach new audiences with co-marketing and Collabs:

1. Use a Collab Platform

The easiest and most effective way to grow your audience with partnership marketing is to become part of a collaboration network like Subkit.

Subkit’s Collab Network makes it easy for small businesses to find collab and partnership opportunities.

It’s a network of businesses where you can partner with other brands and cross-promote products, so you don’t have to spend endless time (and resources) on finding the right partner for your business.

Subkit works to help you grow your business by reaching new customers with collaborative marketing, specifically through cross-promo, bundled products, referrals, and more. It offers you the best way to grow your audience, acquire new customers, increase your customer base, grow your list, and make money – without costing a lot of money to get started.

Click here to get your invite-only link.

2. Choose the Right Partners

If your primary goal is to reach new audiences with a marketing partnership, choose your marketing partner smartly and work with a brand that targets people who aren’t your customers already.

The target audience of your partner should be your potential customers and the type of people you want to reach. This means you should avoid partnering with your competitors, and any business that targets the same or similar audience as your company.

The first (and most important) step is to ensure the type of audience you want to reach with your marketing efforts via your partner. Even better if you can create an ideal buyer persona to share with your partner.

For example, Steller Snacks partnered with JetBlue and offered free snacks inflight. JetBlue announced the partnership on Twitter:

Steller Snacks, being a new and unknown brand, reached its target audience with free samples. It reaches people who travel by air – they need snacks during the flight, the perfect audience.

And JetBlue reached an entirely new target market as Steller Snacks promoted this partnership to its customer base.

Follow these best practices to ensure you end up selecting the right marketing partner:

  • Create a buyer persona that you want to reach via your partner
  • Avoid direct competitors, business partners, and suppliers as they target a similar audience and won’t be useful in reaching a new audience
  • The philosophy and objectives of your ideal partner should align with yours
  • Share your partnership marketing goal with your partner

3. Run an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Partnering with an influencer for an audience and customer base growth is a great way to target customers in a new market. Influencer marketing is extremely effective as 50% of millennials and 33% of Gen Z reported that they purchased a product on the recommendation of an influencer they follow:

This is a reason why 93% of marketers have used influencer marketing and only 7% of marketers never used it:

When you partner with the right influencer, you can easily reach a new audience in a new target market.

Consider two key things when choosing an influencer:

  1. The audience you want to reach (based on your target persona) should be following the influencer
  2. Your existing customers should not be following the influencer – if they do, you’ll end up connecting with your existing customers

It’s also important to look at the influencer engagement numbers – look for high engagement per post instead of the number of followers, which can be more easily faked.

Follow these steps to run an influencer marketing campaign to reach a wider audience:

  • Define the type of campaign. Do you want to run an affiliate marketing campaign or a simple brand awareness campaign to reach a new target market? You can do a sponsored post, sponsored content, brand endorsement, brand collaboration, giveaway campaign, etc. with your selected influencer.
  • Finalize campaign assets. Prepare brand assets and guidelines for the influencer. If you want to provide content and assets, have them ready.
  • Finalize terms and contracts with the selected influencer. Share all the details with the influencer as to what type of content you need, campaign type, cost, and finalize your contract.
  • Monitor progress and track the campaign. Once your campaign goes live and the influencer published the post, start tracking its performance. Use relevant metrics and KPIs to measure performance.

Here’s an example of an influencer marketing campaign from Nike where it partnered with athletes and ran a giveaway campaign:

The way how your campaign is crafted is crucial and you need to prepare clear guidelines for the influencer. Make sure you see and approve content before it goes live to ensure everything is as expected.

You must work closely with the influencers and consider them your brand partners.

4. Run Content Partnership Campaign

Content partnerships are essential and effective marketing campaigns for your business. You can reach new customers by producing content jointly with the right brand partnerships.

Brands that partner with publishers for content distribution see a 50% higher brand lift than companies that publish content on their own.

For example, VICE and Vans produce content together on a dedicated page on Vice called Boardly. The content marketing includes videos of women skateboarders. The collaboration helps both brands to reach and connect with a female target audience of the other brand.

When you create joint content with clearly defined goals, it helps both partners reach new audiences on a regular basis.

The content partnership shouldn’t be one-time – it should be recurring to get the best out of it.

Over time, as you keep on generating new Collabs, resources multiply and both partners can continue to promote content that helps them acquire new customers.

Producing content jointly is a great way for small businesses to grow their brand.

Small businesses usually struggle as they have limited reach. When two businesses join together for a strategic partnership, they can reach a wider audience that benefits both exponentially.

Collab on a wide range of content types such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Interviews
  • Social posts

Follow these best practices to run a content partnership campaign successfully:

  • Create clear content goals
  • Choose a content format that works for both partners
  • Publish content that’s useful for both partners – not just one
  • Combine and share resources
  • The partners should promote content based on a marketing plan
  • Curate and syndicate content to boost reach

5. Create Brand Ambassador Program

A brand ambassador program is a type of partnership marketing where you partner with your existing loyal customers to achieve specific marketing goals (e.g., wide reach). The brand ambassadors act as your brand advocates and work closely with your marketing team.

You can shape your ambassador program in different ways. The two major types of ambassador programs include:

  1. Customer ambassador programs where you choose customers as ambassadors
  2. Employees make a good ambassador program which is known as employee advocacy.

Xbox has an ambassador program for its users. They have a dedicated page with all the details about the program and how to join it:

An ambassador is different than an influencer. Ambassador programs are long-term and your ambassadors are your customers who have used your product and know your brand and product inside out. While influencers promote your product for a short time based on a contract, ambassadors work with your brand as long-term partners even without any cash incentives.

Follow these steps to create your ambassador program to grow your brand’s reach:

  • Set goals for your ambassador program. In this case, your goal is to reach new audiences and grow your business. You can also use an ambassador program to achieve other goals such as sales, engagement, brand awareness, etc.
  • Define program guidelines. You need to define ambassador criteria and program guidelines that will be shared with the ambassadors. Set clear criteria for the selection of ambassadors.
  • Set incentive. Ambassadors don’t always need monetary incentives, but there has to be some incentive to keep ambassadors motivated. You can offer discount coupons, thank you notes, cash incentives, a shoutout, or others.
  • Choose brand ambassadors. Ideally, you should select ambassadors from your loyal customers. People who have used your product and love it make an ideal ambassador.
  • Outreach. Contact the selected brand ambassadors via email or phone and ask them to join your program. Share all the details including perks.
  • Create an ambassador page on your website. A dedicated landing page on your website will help you recruit ambassadors for your program quite easily.
  • Analyze performance. Track the performance of the ambassador program and see how effective it is in terms of increasing brand reach.

An ambassador program helps you develop long-term partnerships with your customers for exponential business growth. Use it smartly to reach new audiences by streamlining your recruitment process.

For example, you can decide to work with customers who are active on a certain social media platform or who own a blog, or who live in a specific country or state, etc. This makes it easy to narrow down and reach a new audience based on your preferences and requirements.

Additionally, you can tweak program requirements whenever you need.

6. Sponsorships

This is the easiest way to grow your audience and customer base. It is a direct way to partner with another business or individual as a sponsor.

You can sponsor events, local community-based programs, individuals, influencers and thought leaders, other businesses, and pretty much anything where you can reach your target audience and achieve your marketing goals.

For example, the Fixed Income Leaders Summit has a list of sponsors available on its official website:

And here is an example of sponsorship types from GitHub Universe:

You can sponsor videos, podcasts, and individuals too. For example, apparel businesses sponsor outfits (and send PR packages) of celebrities and influencers and ask them to post about it on their social account:

Sponsorships, however, are a short-term partnership marketing technique where you can run multiple campaigns with different entities simultaneously.

It's relatively easy to reach new audiences with sponsorships, and you can target people and events in new countries to expand your reach. If you own a small local business and want to target people in a neighboring city, you can consider sponsoring a local event in your target city for instant massive reach.

The downside of sponsorship marketing is that it often gets too expensive and measuring performance is challenging.

By contrast, content partnerships with another brand – for example, trading Instagram Reels or blog posts – doesn’t cost much money up front and sometimes can be completely free. In these partnerships, you only have to share your resources to produce and promote content for a mutually beneficial outcome.

This isn’t the case with sponsorships. It doesn’t work with resource sharing, you need to spend money to partner with another entity, and your immediate benefit won't be as clear.

The outcome of a sponsorship is usually word-of-mouth marketing, which can’t be measured. Your brand’s reach will increase, and your brand awareness will likely improve, but it can be difficult to prove ROI.

Nevertheless, sponsorships are one of the easiest partnership marketing techniques to quickly reach a wider audience and achieve business goals.

Follow these best practices for sponsor partnership campaigns:

  • Start with an online sponsorship partnership with an influencer, micro-celebrity, or thought leader. It's usually cheaper and more trackable than working with a mega-brand.
  • Event sponsorship can be the best way to reach a specific target audience. You need to find the right event that your potential customers attend.
  • Make sure the entity you are sponsoring aligns with your business goals and philosophy. Whether it is an event, an individual, or a business, your brand image and reputation will be linked with theirs.
  • Focus on long-term sponsorship partners. A one-time collaboration usually doesn’t deliver optimal results, but consistency and deliver a big impact over time.
  • Measure the reach of your partner. If it's an influencer, look at recent post engagement more than follower numbers. If it's an event, check the number of attendees.

Use Subkit to Reach New Audiences Free of Cost

Partnership marketing is a game-changer, offering a ton of benefits:

  • Find your fit: Look for potential partners who complement your business and share your vision. It's about building relationships that push you in the right direction.
  • Boost your reach: With the right partners, you can reach more people and increase your market share. It's all about expanding your audience.
  • Mix up your marketing: Try different strategies like joint email campaigns or collaborating with content creators. Keep it fresh and engaging.
  • Expand your playground: Distribution partnerships are a big deal. They get your products and services out there, in places you wouldn't reach on your own. Think of affiliate partners as your brand's ambassadors.
  • Shared goals, mutual benefits: Open communication and common goals are key. Everyone wins in a successful campaign.

Remember, partnership marketing isn't just about doing business. It's about building lasting, beneficial relationships. And with the right approach, it's a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Growing your audience with partnership marketing gets even easier whe you have clear goals. You should know what type of audience you want to reach and what is the worth of it for your business. This means you have to have a clearly defined buyer persona that you want to reach with collab marketing.

Subkit offers a complete suite of partnership marketing for DTC brands that is ideal for reaching new audiences, growing customer base, and acquiring new customers at a low cost. It provides you with the tools and resources to connect with other businesses via product bundling, meaning you can also generate sales and passive income with other brands doing their share of the heavy lifting.

Subkit makes collaborative marketing easier because it is specifically designed for brands and focuses on co-marketing. Our platform allows you to try it risk-free and provides instant access to partnership opportunities!

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