Business partnerships are everywhere. The supermarket branded credit card or perhaps the great insurance deal being offered with your new car. These days companies often find it challenging to stand out in an increasingly crowded and sophisticated global marketplace.
Fortunately, an innovative and engaging partnership can really help elevate your business online and offline. Not just for big brands, collaborating with non-competitive but like-minded companies can be incredibly effective for small businesses too. Whatever your model, a successful partnership supported by good marketing can really boost your business. Not only can it add all important revenue to your bottom line, if you get it right you will be pleasing your customers at the same time.
So what is a business partnership?
In the case of B2B operations, partnerships can be as simple as shouting about each other’s successes in order to reinforce the benefits of each respective business. Let’s look at how Amazon showcases its business customers as an example. By featuring case studies of its Webstore customers it not only explains how the eCommerce platform works, but also says ‘hey, our service is so good that these big brands trust us to host their online stores, and you should too.’ Amazon’s highlighted clients also benefit from this relationship, as they gain exposure for their brands within Amazon’s extensive customer base.
When it comes to consumer products, partnerships can be used to enhance or extend the use of existing product lines such as getting a free bottle of strawberry sauce from one brand when you buy a tub of ice cream from a partner brand. Alternatively, it can go as far as two different but complementary companies sharing resources and expertise in order to develop an entirely new product; for example, Adidas teamed up with technology company Polar Electro to create ‘intelligent’ sports clothing. In doing so, the partners opened up new revenue opportunities and boosted brand messages centered around innovation and quality.
Working in with another business is not about losing individual identity, it is about doubling your efforts to grow your market and give each partner more credibility.
Marketing your partnership
There are a variety of ways to market business partnerships, and some of the decisions you make will rest on the kind of partnership you have chosen. However, there are a few essentials that no partnership marketing should be without.
1. Co-branding – Support the campaign with jointly branded materials from the get-go or its impact will be lost. This could be as basic as running partnership messages across all online channels, or as complex as producing a dedicated product label, website, point of sale and advertising campaign. You may even want to develop a series of exclusive events to introduce and reinforce your partnership.
2. Maximizing social media – Make sure to use all of the social media channels at your disposal. Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs and more can all be used to great effect. For example, Bigstock began using Google Drive and blogged about it. The blog became a platform for marketing the partnership, and as such Bigstock was able to take control of the information flow and present accurate and timely material to subscribers, and encourage sharing. Once you have launched, add new posts about partnership developments, industry reaction and other related content to keep customers engaged.
3. Content marketing – If you have the resources, support your social media activity with videos, interactive guides, whitepapers, case studies, etc. to generate credibility and authority around your partnership.
4. Email marketing and loyalty schemes – It may sound obvious, but if you already send out a weekly newsletter or communicate with loyalty card holders, then now is the time to use these resources to launch your partnership and explain the benefits to existing customers or prospects. Add a call to action and tracking codes, so you can also measure responses.
5. PR – Work with your partners to develop a tailored PR strategy or press release that will maximize the exposure from launch as the relationship progresses. For smaller businesses, get your heads together and come up with ways to announce the partnership and invite local media to cover it. Don’t forget to notify other key influencers such as bloggers and social influencers.
6. Sell, sell, sell! – Utilizing your existing sales teams when marketing the benefits of your new partnership is a fast and effective way to reap rewards. Not only can they explain the finer details of a partnership directly to your customers, they can also work to distribute marketing and promotional materials to anyone they make contact with, extending the reach of your message.
7. Build around your brand – When working in partnership with other businesses, it’s important to maintain your brand identity. This is particularly important if you are looking to break into a new market or are rebranding. Tagging on to an innovative or aspirational partner will show customers where you want to go next. A good partner should reflect your own company goals and will support the execution of a marketing plan that gives equal exposure to all parties.
No matter what kind of business partnership you form, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a joint venture like any other, and as such, any responsibility for building and marketing the partnership should be shared. There is no free ride, and partners who expect to sit back and let you do all the work are best avoided. A poor partnership can quickly damage your reputation, but choose wisely and you can expect to see real benefits both in terms of brand building and long term profitability.
image credit: ebay.com
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Rob Toledo is Outreach Coordinator at Distilled, aka marketing coordinator with experience heavily focused online. Technologically driven, with a love for SEO, outreach, link building, content creation, conversion rate optimization, advertising, copywriting, graphic design, SEO, SEM, CRO, Google Analytics, social media, creative content…you get the picture. He blogs at stenton toledo