Partner marketing is a growth strategy that involves collaborating with other companies, affiliates, influencers, and publishers to get more exposure for your products and services.
This marketing tactic has been around for more than 100 years, but it has grown rapidly in recent years as brands and marketers have learned how to leverage social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The most prominent example of partner marketing today is when an advertiser pays for product placement within a television show or movie.
One such example is the Super Bowl commercials, which cost about $5.5 million per commercial spot on average. Brands like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Doritos have been investing heavily in creating ads for this spot over the past decade.
But this isn’t the only form of partner marketing.
Daniel Wellington’s influencer collaborations and co-branding partnerships between brands like Apple and Nike are both examples of partner marketing. And agencies like Grovia are changing the game in partner recruitment with software designed to help companies find the right partners.
Want to learn more about partner marketing? Keep reading to find out what it is, why you should consider using it, and how to do that effectively.
Table of Contents
What is Partner Marketing?
Partner marketing, also referred to as partnership marketing, is the process when you work with someone else to promote your product or service in exchange for you doing the same for them or offering them another benefit.
Partnering with businesses of all sizes can be a great way to reach new customers, increase sales, and get more exposure for your brand. Other than businesses, you can also partner with affiliates, influencers, and publishers to promote your products and services further.
Partner marketing doesn't have to be that costly though. There are plenty of ways you can form partnerships without heavy monetary compensation.
Why Should You Leverage Partner Marketing?
Partner marketing offers a number of significant benefits to businesses. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Makes It Easier to Reach New Markets
Strategic partnerships can help you get access to the audience of another company, affiliate, or influencer. When you partner with businesses and people who have the audience you want to target, you can easily reach and engage a new market.
This can help you save a lot of time and effort which you would otherwise waste on generating brand awareness.
Helps Increase Your Brand Recognition
If you partner with a brand that already has a loyal customer base, it can help you instantly gain recognition in the market. The same holds true for affiliate, influencer, and publisher partnerships.
The customer base or fan base of your partners will more easily trust your brand because they already trust your partner and their recommendations. The right partner marketing campaigns can help you increase your brand recognition manifold with minimal effort.
Leads to Fresh Ideas
When you partner with other brands, affiliates, or social media influencers, they are likely to bring their own marketing ideas and strategies to the table. You can get ideas that you’d probably never think of on your own.
Partner marketing gives you an opportunity to learn from each other and make the most out of each other’s strengths.
Helps You Deliver More Value to Your Consumers
When you choose the right partners for your brand, you’ll be able to improve user experience and deliver additional value to your existing and potential customers.
Home furnishing store, Pottery Barn, partnered with paint company, Sherwin-Williams, to help their customers pick paint colors that perfectly complemented their furniture choices.
As part of the collaboration, they also offered a $15 off coupon on purchases of $75 or above using a custom coupon code.
Along with getting discounts, customers also got access to easy design tips to change the look and feel of their homes, which generated positive results for both brands.
More Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy
Another major advantage of taking partner marketing initiatives is that it is more cost effective than most other forms of marketing.
Let me tell you how partnering with another brand can help you save money.
When you form a partnership, you can use each other’s talent pool, which means if one brand works on the promotional graphics, the other one can create a video. This will help you reduce the need to outsource work or hire more people.
You can also reduce the cost of running ads and other marketing campaigns to build awareness about your products and services.
Moreover, partner marketing mostly follows a performance-based payment model instead of a pay-per-ad or pay-per-impression model. So, you’ll only pay for actual results, which can help you improve the ROI of your campaigns and reduce costs.
What are the Different Types of Partner Marketing?
There are different types of partnership marketing approaches to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
Affiliate marketing involves collaborating with a publisher, blogger, or social media influencer. The publisher or influencer will promote your product or service to their audiences through an ad.
Usually, affiliate promotions involve a commission-based marketing promotion where you only pay when an affiliate drives actual traffic, qualified leads, or sales for your business.
This is a win-win marketing tactic for both partners and helps you make the most out of your marketing budget.
Credit card service providers, SaaS companies, beauty brands, subscription economy boxes providers, and many other businesses often run affiliate partner programs to win more business with minimal marketing effort and investment. Having a good affiliate manager is key to the success of this channel.
Amazon runs one of the largest affiliate programs, which allows businesses, publishers, and influencers to promote products that fit their niche and earn commissions. This helps retailers who sell on Amazon reach new target audiences and increase sales.
Many Amazon sellers have good words to say about the Amazon Associates Program.
Channel Partner Marketing
Channel partner marketing is a strategy where third-party businesses, publishers, or individuals help you market your products or services to new audiences.
Usually, product manufacturers use this marketing partnership approach to build their presence in different local markets and increase their sales and revenue.
Channel partners may include distributors, wholesalers, retailers, resellers, brokers, and affiliates that can introduce your brand to wider audiences and new geographical areas.
Strategic Partnership Marketing
Strategic partner marketing is when two companies with similar values carefully make strategic decisions to form a mutually beneficial partnership. This type of partner marketing can also be referred to as co-marketing or co-branding.
The partners pool their resources, marketing ideas, and strengths to reach new audiences, increase brand recognition, and accomplish a mutual business goal.
Popular brands like Uber and Spotify, GoPro and Red Bull, and Starbucks and Target, often form strategic alliances that offer clear benefits to both brands.
Uber and Spotify’s partnership allowed Uber riders to stream their Spotify playlists when they took a ride. While Uber was able to deliver personalized experiences to their riders, the program also encouraged users to switch to Spotify Premium.
Not all Uber riders use Spotify. Similarly, not all Spotify users take a ride with Uber. So, the strategic partnership between both brands helped them build brand awareness, expand their reach, and gain new users.
Brand Ambassadorship Programs
Brand ambassadorship programs are also one of the many forms of partner marketing. While an ambassador helps a business increase brand awareness, becoming the face of a brand also helps boost the personal brand value of the ambassador.
Through a brand ambassadorship program, you can form long-term partner relationships with trusted authorities, publishers, and social media influencers in your niche.
Your brand ambassador will promote your products and services to their target audience and show how your product or service fits in their daily lives. They are likely to run both online and offline promotions using social media posts, blog posts, video content, interview mentions, and word-of-mouth marketing tactics.
Influencer marketing is one of the most popular forms of partner marketing.
As a brand, you find and pay influencers like bloggers and social media personalities who are recognized and trusted by your target audience. In return, the influencers speak highly of your brand, products, and services to their audiences and get people to buy from you.
One brand that has made it big with influencer marketing is Daniel Wellington. The famous watch company regularly partners with numerous influencers of all sizes to get them to promote their new watch collections and offer discounts.
You can find over 2 million posts when you search for “#danielwellington” on Instagram. Many of these posts are from influencers who have partnered with the brand to increase its exposure and sales.
Cross Promotion Marketing
A cross-promotion marketing strategy is when two companies promote each other’s products and services to their respective audiences. In some cases, many partners come together to run joint-marketing campaigns.
You can announce your partnership with each other through a newsletter and promote each other’s products and services through social media, websites, and newsletters. This will help you cross-promote your brands to similar audiences and increase your customer base.
The two iconic brands, Apple and Nike, cross-promoted their products to bring sports and music together and amaze all fitness enthusiasts worldwide.
Nike+iPod delivered a better running experience to users and helped increase the overall value, recognition, and customer base of both brands. It is a perfect example of a win-win partnership between two companies.
Distribution Partnership Marketing
Distribution partnership marketing is when a brand bundles up the products or services of a partner brand among their own products or services.
When the products of two brands are advertised together, it helps the partnering brands leverage the trust that customers have in one brand to encourage them to try the products from the other brand.
There are various ways to perform distribution partnership marketing. Many brands use in-store coupons, email vouchers, and QR codes to cross-promote each other’s products and services.
With this strategy, both brands can increase their reach and customer loyalty, which will help them get more customers and revenue.
How to Make the Most of Partner Marketing
Now that we’ve reviewed the main types of partner marketing, let’s take a look at a few crucial steps that can help you run successful partner marketing campaigns for your business.
These steps will help you regardless of the type of marketing partnership you decide to form.
1. Set Measurable Goals for Your Marketing Partnerships
The most crucial step of creating a robust partner marketing strategy is to define what you want to achieve from your partnership marketing campaign.
To gauge the success of your partner marketing program, you need to make sure that the goals you define are specific and measurable. It’s best to align each goal with trackable key performance metrics (KPIs).
Here are a few examples of goals that you can aim to accomplish through your marketing partnerships:
- Increase leads from a specific marketing channel or audience demographic by 30% in 6 months.
- Acquire 200 new customers in a period of 6 months.
- Increase website visitors by 200% in 6 months.
- Generate $40K sales through holiday season affiliate marketing campaigns.
- Increase social media followers by 20% in 3 months.
Having clear goals will help you understand what kind of partners you should look for and figure out the best partnership marketing strategies to achieve those goals.
2. Select the Right Partners for Your Brand
You need to make sure that the partnerships you form make sense to both businesses involved. It should also be relevant to the audiences of both sides.
Partnerships are gaining recognition and value in the world of marketing but only 35% of companies cite recruiting partners as one of their top three capabilities, which is a worrying figure.
To run rewarding partnership marketing campaigns, you need to find and recruit the right partners for your brand. It doesn’t have to be that difficult though.
When looking for a potential partner, you should keep the following points in mind:
- You should choose a partner who has an audience similar to yours but they shouldn’t be your direct competitors.
- Your partnering brand, affiliate, or influencer should create content that your target audience will likely be interested in.
- You should not partner with a company that is completely unrelated to your business line.
- You should partner with a brand or individual whose brand identity, image, and values are in harmony with that of your brand. There shouldn’t be any image or value clashes between partners.
- Each partner should be able to help the other brand or individual achieve at least one business goal that they can’t accomplish on their own.
Recruiting partners, affiliates, and influencers who are a good fit for your brand can be made easy by leveraging a reliable partner recruitment platform such as Grovia.
This platform helps you find partners with ready-to-buy audiences and nurture partner relationships from first contact to revenue activation through the partner portal.
3. Define Fair Expectations with Mutual Benefits
You should consider what value each partner will bring to the partnership. Clearly define the expectations you have from your partners and what you’ll offer them in return to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Figure out if a partner will help you:
- Increase brand awareness?
- Grow your customer base?
- Increase your social media followers?
- Reach a new target audience demographic?
At the same time, you should take the time to define what you will offer your partner. Will you:
- Give commissions to your affiliate partners?
- Expose your partner brand to a new audience and help them increase sales (just like they would do for you)?
- Send free products to your brand ambassadors and give a commission on the sales they generate?
Defining clear goals and fair expectations from your partners will help you avoid conflicts and ensure the retention of the interests of both parties involved.
4. Pick the Best Marketing Channels
You should take advantage of all major marketing channels and strategies, which include but are not limited to:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Paid advertising
- Event promotions
- Other digital marketing strategies
Pick channels that are most relevant to both of your target audiences to make the most of your partnerships.
5. Set Up a Rewards Program to Incentivize Your Top-Performing Partners
Offering rewards and incentives is a great way to keep your partners motivated. It can help you encourage them to maximize their marketing efforts and drive more valuable exposure, leads, and sales for your business.
The type of reward you can offer will vary depending on what form of partner marketing campaign you choose to run.
If you’re running an affiliate marketing program, you may offer a 20% additional commission to affiliates who generate more than $100K sales for you.
Whereas, you can offer discounts, rebates, and bonuses to channel partners who successfully promote your products and services within a given period of time. You can define rewards for meeting different sales targets to encourage your partners to give their best.
Many companies offer travel packages to their high-value brand ambassadors. The ambassadors then promote the brand more during their sponsored travel excursion as well.
Some other rewards that can make your ambassadors and marketing partners happy include:
- New/exclusive products
- Monetary incentives and bonuses
- Entertainment tickets
- Gift cards
- Invitation to a company event
- Leisurely staycation
- Recognition awards such as trophies and certificates
1. What is a partner in advertising?
The person or brand that helps you promote your product or service as a marketing partner is referred to as a partner in the advertising world.
2. What is partner marketing?
Partner marketing is a form of marketing where two or more companies help each other promote each other’s products and services. Partnerships between a brand and its affiliates, influencers, channel partners, and publishers also fall under the category of partner marketing.
For example, Google-sponsored wi-fi at Starbucks is an example of partnership marketing.
3. What are the best tools for partner marketing?
Grovia is one of the best tools that can help you find, recruit, engage, and activate revenue-generating partners for your business.
4. Is partnership a marketing strategy?
Partnership marketing or partner marketing is one of the fastest-growing marketing strategies today. If you find the right partners for your business, you can see a significant increase in your brand awareness, leads, and sales with minimal effort.
5. What are the main types of partnership marketing?
The main types of partnership marketing include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Channel partner marketing
- Strategic partnership marketing
- Brand ambassadorship programs
- Influencer marketing
- Cross promotions
- Distribution partnerships
Are You Ready to Ace the Game of Partner Marketing?
Choosing a partner for your brand involves critical decisions because the partner you pick can either take your brand to greater heights or lead you down a challenging path. Therefore, you should do your homework thoroughly before building partnership relationships.
If you’re looking for experts to help you with partner marketing, you should consider using Grovia’s partner recruitment platform or services.
You can also reach out to my team for results-driven branding and marketing services. Share your thoughts about partner marketing in the comments below to start a conversation with us.