Whether purchasing a new laser or computer, buyers believe the products they purchase are only as good as the components engineered into them. Just consider your perception of a PC branded with Intel Inside® compared with one that’s not. Intel is a classic co-marketing example. When done well, co-marketing can be among the most effective tactics in a marketer’s toolbox to quickly shift buyers’ perceptions.
No company is all things to all people. Forming co-marketing partnerships allows companies with complementary offerings to align their interests, resources and marketing muscle to reach new markets and close more deals than they could alone. Such partnerships offer customers more comprehensive solutions and better services, and they forge lasting relationships between partner companies and customers.
This article explains how to start a co-marketing partnership, as well as possible elements to include in it.
How to start a co-marketing initiative
So you have some ideas for the activities you could execute in a co-marketing program; now you have to find the right partners to make them a reality. As you search for the right partner company, reflect on what would make a company a good fit for your program. What products are your customers already buying that fit into the same ecosystem as yours, but are not directly competitive? Are there any brands offering complementary products to yours? Do those companies already have partnerships with competitive offerings? If not, start a conversation. But first, tap your internal teams.
- Get your legal team on board to recommend and/or evaluate the contractual arrangements associated with partnerships. These colleagues can help evaluate opportunities and potential red flags.
- Get your marketing team involved right away. They can help outline the objectives and strategies from which your marketing partnership will evolve.
Designing your co-marketing partnership
First, establish the initial guidelines and expectations for the program. Include big-picture thinking about what you want your partnership to look like. How will co-marketing be used for mutual benefit? What are the minimal expectations? What would you like your partners to do and not do? Are there any restrictions, such as brand guidelines and trademarks?
Once the groundwork is laid, you can generate ideas and tools to bring your co-marketing plan to life. The tools used can include:
- Messaging: Establish common messaging for you and partner participants. Be sure messages are mutually beneficial to both companies’ audiences, not one-sided.
- Advertising: If lead generation is a marketing objective, create joint advertisements, which can appear in a variety of print and digital formats. These can be used to increase awareness and leads for both companies.
- Logos: Develop examples of ways to apply logo treatments to achieve a cohesive look.
- Joint Case Studies: Stories that show how your partnership has solved a customer challenge are effective credibility-builders. Customer stories are the best endorsements you can get.
- Social Media: Connect with your partner’s social media accounts to share up-to-date industry trends, events and company news. Be sure to share any news releases and media coverage mentioning your partnership on your company’s social media channels.
- Events: There are several co-marketing opportunities associated with events, including combined event promotions, shared booth space and joint presentations to elevate your presence.
- Contributed Articles: Place noncommercial editorial articles in publications that highlight your co-marketing partnership and advantages of your paired technologies.
- Media Interviews: Participation in interviews with editors and business reporters is a credible way to get the word out about your co-marketing partnership and complementary products.
The goal of co-marketing is not to force partners to look like you or one another. Rather, it’s an opportunity to expand the brand presence of each company. Tactics developed should be relevant for all entities, allowing partners to remain true to their own brands while promoting the partnership.
Things to avoid in a co-marketing partnership
When designing a co-marketing partnership,avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy. Provide options for the tools developed, and consider that not every partner can adopt them the same way. Creating options gives the program flexibility so that each brand can remain independent.
Additionally, be sure you respect the trademarks and proprietary information between partner companies. The marketing and legal teams should work together to understand what is and what isn’t marketable to avoid misrepresenting the relationship or brands.
Finally, when entering into co-marketing partnerships, commit to longevity and sustainability of the program. Successful partnerships are built over time. To ensure your partnerships last, refine them along the way to stay fresh and relevant within your industry. When executed properly, you will be rewarded with new partner and customer relationships.
*Image from Pinterest.com