Partnership Marketing

Your Perfect Brand Match: Find Your Ideal Partnership

Discover the easy way to find your perfect brand partner – leverage these simple tips to establish a strong foundation for enduring business success!

Looking for a cost-effective business growth hack? Enter Partnership Marketing!

This isn't just another marketing buzzword. It's a fresh approach that focuses on shared growth, strengthening brand narratives, and multiplied outcomes - all while keeping costs in check. 

Don't take our word for it. Consider these benefits of partnership marketing: 

  1. Financial efficiency: Stretch your marketing dollar further when you share a common goal with another brand.
  2. Heightened ROI: Turn a business partnership into shared success.
  3. Pinpoint targeting: Reach your ideal audience more effectively by bundling with complementary products.
  4. Brand credibility: Build faster trust via established partnerships with influencers and others.
  5. Risk diversification: Simple – don’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket.
  6. Creative campaigns: Stand out with unique Collabs!

Ready to Collab? Read on for best practices and get ready to revamp your marketing strategy!

What is partnership marketing?

Partnership marketing is a mutually beneficial strategic collaboration between two or more parties to reach specific goals. That could be winning new customers, reaching a new target audience, brand awareness growth in a particular demographic, cutting marketing costs, and more.

Digital advertising declines have made collaborative marketing an increasingly necessary avenue of business growth. Several studies show the right partner brands can transform a business's revenues. Consider the following:

  • 54% of companies gain more than 20% of their revenue through partnership marketing alone.
  • 68% of consumers say they can make buying decisions before speaking to sales reps after seeing co-marketed campaigns.

Conceptually, partner marketing is simple. But the biggest challenge is facilitating the partnership or finding potential partners. Many solopreneurs and small businesses need help knowing where to start or what characteristics to look for in a partnership marketing partner.

They don't know you can use a platform like Subkit to find and connect with potential partners. This challenge causes many to avoid partnership marketing altogether.

Best way to find the right partner brand

You can spend hours reaching out to potential partners only to find out that supposedly ideal partners aren’t interested. Some people even make the mistake of only seeking out big or global brands, though they have low market share and minimal marketing budget.

Instead of all that, seek out equitable partnerships for better results. Collaborations are best when the ideal partner is attainable. Both parties should have a similar reach and a brand association that makes sense. However, having a similar reach isn't necessary if the benefit to the partner is great.

Your ideal partner should be adjacent to your industry. That way, both brands will have different unique value propositions, preventing a conflict of interest. For example, an athletic shoe brand and a sports drink company would make good partners.

A best practice is to begin your partner search with realistic expectations. Focus on the qualities desired in a marketing partnership, and be thoughtful. Go beyond reach and even consider potential partners with unrealized growth. This is the best way to find the right partner for your business.

Once you have a list of potential partners, start your outreach process. The businesses that are interested in working with you will respond. Then schedule your first meeting and take things from there.

Ensure you already have a partnership marketing strategy or plan that lists all the possible marketing activities. Some examples of marketing activities for solopreneurs and small businesses include the following.

  • Collaborating on a limited-time product or service offer.
  • Collaborating on speaking engagements and conferences.
  • Running co-promoted webinars.
  • Collaborating on content creation and promotion, such as original research publications.
  • Paying to have your product promoted on someone else’s email list.
  • Branding collaborations, such as promoting certain products on each party’s website or joint email marketing campaigns.

In addition, when you find the right partner, try to provide additional value. Even if the partnership centers on money exchange, offer something beyond monetary gains. For example, you can mention them in your blog posts now and then if the context fits.

Types of partnership marketing

Deciding on the kind of partner marketing campaigns you want to run is crucial, and brand partnerships take various forms. Some are public-facing, others work directly with customers, and some are primarily behind the scenes.

But regardless of the form, collaborative partnerships can be one of the most accessible paths to high growth, though you need the right tools. For example, Subkit members can bundle subscription products (physical, digital, or sessions) with other small businesses already on Subkit or invite preferred partners.

From there, they can cross-promote and share revenue and leverage all the tools available on the Subkit platform, including a high SEO-hosted business page.

The most common forms of partnership marketing are as follows.

1. Referral partnerships

Every solopreneur and small business owner knows the value of referrals. Customers who learn about products through others have a higher customer retention rate. They are also four times more likely to refer others to the business.

In a referral partnership, one business usually agrees to recommend the other to its customers. But sometimes, both companies will recommend each other when there's value to it. This team effort creates a robust referral pipeline.

Loyal customers of one company become patrons of the other, and vice versa in a two-way referral partnership. And unlike affiliate marketing programs (more on this shortly), the relationship between referral partners isn’t always strictly transactional.

As such, it sometimes requires more nurturing, such as contacting partners occasionally to provide value or adding links to partners in your email campaigns or website.

Referral partnerships can bring sustainable growth to your business. It’s like having an army of marketing managers or additional marketing departments that send you leads and customers daily.

Subkit comes with total referral support for solopreneurs and small businesses. You can launch and manage referral programs, coupons, email campaigns, blog content, and more. Request your invite.

2. Affiliate marketing partnerships

Affiliate marketing is when companies partner with content creators, such as publishers, bloggers, or YouTubers, to promote products in exchange for a commission.

Managing an affiliate marketing program can be a great way to generate buzz and gain new customers without the typical overhead of marketing campaigns. Experts expect the affiliate marketing industry to reach $14.3 Billion this year and $15.7 Billion by 2024 globally. Plus, interest in affiliate marketing increased by over 264% between 2020 and 2022.

Affiliate marketers typically send traffic to their referral links through email campaigns, landing pages, blog posts, or how-to videos. For example, a YouTuber reviews a brand’s headphones and includes an affiliate or referral link in the video description. When viewers purchase through that link, the YouTuber earns a small percentage of the sale.

Affiliate marketing can work for most businesses, even those with longer sales cycles.

3. Distribution partnerships

A distribution partnership is when one company gives the other authority to market, distribute, or resell its products. This can be an excellent way for new businesses to get their products in front of more customers or penetrate a marketplace.

In general, you can set up distribution partnerships in the following ways.

  • Direct: The distributor can sell the products directly to consumers.
  • Indirect: The distributor uses other channels to sell the product, though some agreements allow distributors to sell directly and indirectly.
  • Exclusive: The distributor only sells to exclusive audiences, such as one brand.
  • Intensive: The distributor can leverage as many sales outlets as possible.
  • Selective: The distributor can only sell to certain selected outlets based on goals. This is a middle ground between exclusive and intensive distribution methods.
  • Dual: The distributor combines both direct and selective methods to push products.
  • Reverse: The distributor collects products from the customer and returns them to the manufacturer or merchant. For example, a distributor may be responsible for returning unused pharmaceuticals to the manufacturer.

4. Influencer marketing partnerships

Similar to affiliate marketing, these programs take advantage of the influence and strengths of other businesses or solopreneurs. Except, influencer marketing programs are more exclusive partner relationships.

They put a company's product and message in the hands of influential people. The influencer typically shares the brand’s target audience, has a sizable following, and promotes the partner’s offers through effective content creation.

Attainable goals in an influencer marketing partnership include improving sales, brand awareness or recognition, and bolstering reputation. For instance, a small business could partner with a well-known YouTuber to create tutorial content around their product.

Additionally, unlike affiliates, influencers typically receive their payment upfront. That may be hourly fees, one-time payments, or free products. This can be cost-effective and a great way to penetrate new markets or for new companies to grow quickly.

5. Loyalty programs

Loyalty or rewards programs are partnerships between businesses and their customers. Such partnerships incentivize customers to keep patronizing the brand. It’s also a great way for businesses to build stronger relationships with their customer base.

Loyalty programs can work well for B2C and B2B companies to increase customer retention. For example, an online coach can offer redeemable points to students every time they complete a section of their course. Students can then redeem their points once they reach a certain amount.

A well-designed loyalty program turns one-time customers into repeat advocates that bring in more sales than any digital advertising could.

6. Sponsorships

This is a sponsor-partner relationship, typically an agreement between a brand and event organizers, celebrities, influencers, or other businesses. Usually, the brand adds its branding or messaging to content or events created by the partner.

For example, sports stadiums often have logos that belong to sponsors. Such events offer a massive opportunity to tap into a curated audience and reach people in mass. Similarly, a company that sponsors a local sports team may place its logo on the back of players' shirts.

However, you don’t have to sponsor something big. Many small businesses can sponsor smaller events or influencers to help reach their target audience.

7. Licensing

A licensing partnership is another investment that can benefit solopreneurs and small businesses. In this kind of partnership, one brand allows another to use their intellectual property, such as branding, content, patents, etc. Usually, the intellectual property owner charges a license fee or royalty.

Licensing partnerships can be a good way to extend potential with a small investment. Your business can access more products and improve brand recognition if the licensor is well-known or an established brand.

8. Channel partnerships

You can avoid some typical hurdles of building a company through channel partnerships. This is when one company partners with another to market or sell their products.

The partnership between farmers and grocery stores is a good example of channel partners. The farmer leverages the grocery store traffic instead of building a B2C brand from scratch. And the grocery store buys their product at a significant discount so they can make a sizable gross profit.

Channel partners can be great if you prefer creating products instead of marketing. You can sell products to many consumers without any direct marketing investment and with some degree of anonymity.

9. Reselling partnership

This is an agreement between two companies where one can sell the other's products and services directly to their customers. But unlike with affiliate marketing and channel partnerships, the reseller partner owns the customer relationship and must have the funds to buy products outright.

In contrast, a channel partner or affiliate marketer must primarily convince potential customers to buy the product using suitable sales and marketing activities. Further, in some cases, the reseller partner can modify the product or make minor changes.

10. Co-branding or brand partnerships

A brand partnership is when two companies collaborate on a new product, also called co-branding. It’s usually an agreement to combine resources to market a product or several, placing both brand logos side-by-side.

This strategic alliance can improve both companies' brand awareness, recognition, and new customer acquisition. It can also help companies reach a new target market segment.

For example, consider the partnership between GoPro and Red Bull for the “Stratus” co-branding campaign. GoPro equipped athletes and adventurers with the tools and funding required to capture things from their perspective (during stunts, races, etc.). Then Red Bull uses its reputation and experience to run and sponsor each event.

Customers get to enjoy the experience while recognizing the brands that made it possible. GoPro showcases the power of its technologies or products, and Red Bull benefits from brand awareness. It’s a win-win for customers and the brands involved.

One study found that 71% of consumers enjoy co-branding partnerships and encourage more businesses to market together.

11. Affinity partners

This kind of partnership is an agreement between companies where one provides products or services in exchange for access to a new market. For example, some grocery stores partner with banks to offer shoppers credit card opportunities in-store.

The benefit for the bank may be that it can increase its target market share via solid product placement or brand awareness. On the other hand, the grocery store's objective may be to increase customer loyalty and sales through a credit card reward program.

While affinity marketing is similar to brand partnerships, they are different. The main objective of an affinity partnership is to win over a new market that has an affinity for both brands. The business that's offering the services or goods benefits by gaining new customers and capturing a larger audience. The other typically benefit from the improved customer experience.

12. Joint ventures

A Joint venture is when two businesses form a partnership, sharing their skills and resources to create mutually beneficial projects or enter new markets. Companies typically share the gross profit based on their ownership and responsibilities in the business.

For example, Amazon partnered with EV maker Rivian to create electric vehicles for its delivery fleet. Similarly, BMW partnered with Brilliance Auto Group (a Chinese Automobile manufacturer) to produce and sell BMW cars in China. The venture is called BMW Brilliance.

In addition, joint ventures can help companies reach customers in new localities. For instance, a coffee shop looking to open more locations can partner with relevant local businesses to create and host coffee-related events. The brand recognition they gain should help them acquire new customers faster once the shop opens.

A best practice is to partner with companies that are well-known in the space and have similar business goals. Your partner should also bring a unique benefit, such as technology innovation.

13. Product placement

Product placement is when one company pays another to feature them in something, such as video games, TV shows, films, etc. It’s a subtle but highly effective way of advertising that can naturally build brand recognition and popularity.

For example, the filmmaker, Michael Bay, partnered with GM to feature their new generation of Camaro in his first Transformers movie. The product placement increased sales for GM when their Generation 5 Camaro became available to the public.

But product placement doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. For instance, a boutique eCommerce brand can pay content creators to place their products in videos. Over time, viewers will begin to recognize the brand and may research them or ask the creator questions about it.

14. Non-profit partnerships

For-profit companies can form partnerships with non-profit organizations if they share similar business goals or fit together in other ways.

This type of partnership is especially great for small businesses because it usually doesn’t require money or donations. Often, they are based on things like fund-raising assistance, resource provision, and other non-monetary benefits.

For example, an educator might partner with a charity to help raise money. This move helps improve the educator's brand image, recognition, and trust. Similarly, a small accounting firm looking to strengthen its brand image can partner with a local non-profit to help them with accounting for free.

Non-profit partnerships are a great way to affordably generate good publicity (or manage public relations) by demonstrating brand social responsibility and community engagement.

Seize the Moment: Discover Your Ideal Brand Partner Today

Who says you have to do it all alone? By teaming up with like-minded businesses, you'll reap some fantastic perks:

  • Make your brand stand out in the crowd
  • Draw in plenty of new leads
  • Watch your sales go through the roof
  • Spend less on marketing

With Subkit, it's easy to get started. We're creating the go-to spot for small businesses and solopreneurs seeking steady growth through Collab Marketing. 

Whether you're looking to join forces with others through Collab Marketing or want to turn what you know best into a steady revenue stream, Subkit is here for you. Get started on your journey to a rewarding partnership today!

Request your Invite to Subkit.

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