Tips & Guides — 15 Jun 2022
Guide to Collaboration Marketing
Business has always been competitive, it’s in its very nature. In recent times, ecommerce has seen competitiveness raised to new levels with over 2 billion people buying goods online in 2020 and a global market worth almost $5 trillion.
What that means for businesses is that they’re constantly striving to find new ways to stay ahead of the pack; better marketing campaigns, more efficient initiatives, increased brand awareness, any idea that will lead to an increase in new customers and higher revenue.
One marketing strategy that is increasing in popularity is collaborative marketing.
Just what is collaborative marketing? How can it benefit your business and how do you go about implementing it into your current strategies? We look at how you can use it to see tangible results and improvements to the metrics that matter to you most.
As the name suggests, this is a type of strategic marketing with collaboration at its heart. It involves collaborating with companies and brands that have similar aims and interests as you. The idea is to maximize exposure and increase sales and revenue while minimizing your costs and advertising spending.
Who can you collaborate with? The answer is almost anyone. While direct competitors are usually excluded from this strategy, the field is open where you can identify a business that has a similar audience, who offers complementary products, or whose brand you feel you can use with your own products. Think of the following:
By analyzing stats and metrics, you can identify businesses with similar or lookalike audiences. These are potential customers who share many traits and/or interests with your existing customer base. Any collaboration should make sense to the potential customers you’re aiming at with your messaging, even if not at first glance.
A good example would be looking at brands that appeal to particular demographics such as age groups. If there are products, even very different ones, that are “cool” and appeal to the under-25s, then those products and brands may well benefit from a collaborative partnership. Even brands that produce very different products may pair well together if they sell to the same group(s) of people.
In a similar way, gender-based purchasing trends are another demographic-rich area to discover. Through researching purchasing patterns of different gender types, you could strike marketing gold with a mutually successful campaign bringing together opposing or neighboring genders.
Let’s say for example that you produce sports equipment; everything from footballs to exercise equipment. By finding a company that produces sportswear, you can build a complementary relationship. But collaborative partnerships may not only be about a “marriage” between existing products, it can also involve the creation of new products that use the best of both brands.
A great example of this is the partnership between Netflix and Baskin Robbins. it’s a natural and obvious partnership; after all, who doesn’t love ice cream when watching their favorite Fillmore series? Both Baskin-Robbins and the chosen Netflix series – Stranger Things – trade heavily on nostalgia so the partnership not only made sense, it was a huge success.
Finding the right branding or licensing partner brand could be a potential gold mine for your company. Imagine (pre ecommerce) that first clothing brand that signed a licensing agreement to make Star Wars clothing; they probably didn’t expect the success that was to come. Licensing can cover a number of sectors, from entertainment to sport.
This type of collaborative partnership can catapult small businesses or startups into the spotlight. Of course, it takes astute judgment on both sides. From your side, it will take recognizing the potential opportunity presented by getting a licensing deal. From your partner’s side, they need to be sure that your brand will offer quality and value.
Of course, the primary benefit you’re looking for is an increase in your sales and revenue figures. Those are end benefits, however, and you should be considering what the pathway to those end benefits consists of.
You may already be reaching a substantial audience through your website and through various social media marketing channels or influencer marketing. By partnering with the right company for collaborative marketing, you not only see an increase in hype and your reach but you know that the audience will be relevant to your brand.
While it’s likely that you may share many customers already, there will also be people who are currently exclusive to both brands. By each partner offering access to their own customer bases, you’re immediately seeing an increase in reach. it’s now the job of any campaign, and your own efforts to turn that increase into solid sales figures. One or both of you may also have referral partners, and this is another factor that can increase your reach.
Let’s assume that you’re an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) operating a healthcare contact center. You have fairly decent brand awareness but perhaps not on a global scale. You then partner with a large health insurance company that has a global presence. Your association can enhance your brand and see increased awareness.
Beyond mere awareness, you can also see an increase in how trusted your brand is. This is what is known as the halo effect; people’s perception of your brand can be enhanced as a result of you partnering with a brand they already respect and trust.
While there are many “common” rules in the world of marketing, some companies stand out through innovative ideas, better workflow, implementation of new tech and automation, and the occasional maverick use of marketing tactics. You can share ideas, processes, and tools such as bigcommerce inventory management with any collaborative partner, something that can help both parties.
Even similar businesses may have distinct differences. Those differences can encompass everything from location to history to personnel. By combining all the different factors that make each partner unique, you have the ability to produce campaigns with better content marketing that are bigger and better, but less expensive, than those you have previously been involved in.
Partnerships can generate added interest that extends beyond individual marketing campaigns. If Partner “A” generates interest with a value of five and Partner “B” generates the same, you would assume combined interest would be ten. The reality is that combining marketing can mean a great interest value that benefits all partners.
When partnering with other brands, you get better cost-effectiveness when it comes to collaborative campaigns. There will likely be no need to outsource any work as you have access to the combined skills and experience of a joint talent pool. For example, your partner’s marketing team may be great at creating infographics, something you’d previously paid to outsource.
There’s also the cost of advertising to consider. Simple math dictates that if you previously spent $1000 on an advert for a product and you now have a collaborative partnership promoting the same product (as well as your partner’s product), then your advertising spend will be halved.
So, let’s assume you’ve found what you think could be the ideal partner for collaborative marketing. What next? What sort of tactics can you use to build a sound strategy?
A good collaboration marketing strategy is about more than your relationship with any partner (or partners; there’s no set limit on how many businesses you can work with). A big part of your strategy should focus on people power, or to be more exact, consumer power. Combined reach means more reach means larger target markets for any campaign.
In the digital era, you should be looking at reaching out to new audiences as well as existing or loyal customers using the various tech solutions available. This covers everything from social media platforms to omnichannel support to automated processes such as email marketing or retargeting. You should be looking to involve your consumers more closely in everything you do.
It’s all very well you saying you have a great product, but if that product doesn’t have many peer reviews, then there’s a good chance they’ll look elsewhere. People increasingly look to reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations to influence purchasing decisions and demographic groups under the age of 44 expect especially high numbers of reviews.
Utilize that consumer power by establishing and reinforcing the relationships you have with your customers. Use reviews and other user-generated content (for example, videos of customers using products) to underpin your marketing efforts (it also saves costs, so, win-win). Also, think of collaboration as extending beyond business partners and including your customers.
One big advantage of collaborative marketing is that it can help cover any weaknesses you have. For example, perhaps you’ve had a weak game when it came to incorporating user-generated content but this is an area your new partner is very good at. Working together can turn your weakness into a strength.
When working together, you need to align what your marketing goals are (beyond simply increasing sales and revenue). Do you want this new partnership to significantly expand both partners’ reach? Identifying what your common sets of goals are is the first step you need to take. Once you have goals in place, then you need to establish how you will work together to attain them.
If you’re going to collaborate, then you need systems in place that help foster and encourage collaboration. That covers both martech (marketing technology) and communications systems. You want the teams working together on any collaborative marketing campaigns to be “speaking the same language” and to be able to work together with ease.
Ensuring your teams have the same tools, or at least tools that can work together, is an essential foundation to successful collaborative marketing. Perhaps the most important tool your teams need is a digital asset management (DAM) system that will allow them to share files, images, and videos that you plan to use in your campaign.
Of course, you want partners that align with your business model and goals. there’s little point in a business that sells kitchenware partnering with a lingerie company. Visualize your business and that of potential partners in a Venn diagram. Where are there crossovers and similarities between both of you?
Products or services should complement each other or have similarities. You want any marketing materials and adverts to increase the brand awareness of all involved partners. So, not only pick your partners wisely but also the products that you’ll jointly promote. Combining marketing skills and experience in the right way not only expands reach but reduces spending.
Some partnerships can be imaginative and unusual. A good example of thinking outside the box is the 2015 collaboration between Lucas Film and CoverGirl makeup. This was a partnership that gave CoverGirl wide exposure thanks to a multi-billion dollar film series. While this may be the “top of the tree” when it comes to partners, it does illustrate creative thinking.
As with other activities within your business, any collaborative marketing strategy should be carefully planned out. The first step is to choose partners wisely. This stage of your planning should involve detailed research to identify companies you feel would be a good fit with your brand. As with the CoverGirl/Lucas Film example, that can sometimes include thinking outside the box.
Once you’ve identified potential partners, the next step is to meet with them and see if interests and goals truly align and tentatively explore how you can work together. You’ll set out guidelines as to how you and your team members will work together and what any stated goals of a particular campaign are. You can then move to drafting and finalizing a partnership agreement.
Once an agreement is reached and a partnership established, you can move to planning campaigns. What products will you jointly promote?
Choosing the products to promote, the channels you’ll advertise on, the format of any adverts, and how you will measure the success of those campaigns are all crucial decisions in your planning process. You also need to analyze metrics, something that is easy with Affise, and regularly evaluate the campaign to see how it’s performing.
One factor that can be a major influence on the success of any collaborative marketing campaign is recognizing that all partners may have different organizational needs. It’s also important to recognize that those needs may change and evolve, even within the lifetime of any partnership. You also need a good way of sharing data between partners, something that is simple with Affise’s CPAPI platform.
Having regular audits of your relationship and of the performance of any campaign can help maintain a healthy partnership. These meetings can also help highlight whether there have been any dynamic changes to a partner’s needs, whether there have been changes to the digital marketing world you operate in, and whether there have been changes to tools and martech that may benefit the partnership.
Good communication is key to all aspects of your collaborative marketing partnerships, especially so when there are multiple partners. Having a robust IP telephony system means that communication is easy. You need to regularly assess and discuss any changes to needs within the relationship as well as any changes as to partners’ relationships with external organizations and markets.
From good communication comes efficient evaluation. The partnership has to continue to be viable and, above all else, it must continue to offer benefits to each of the partners. Any partnership campaign should be fluid and able to adapt to any changes so create shared templates for evaluation, both internally and of the partnership, that can help with success.
Successful marketing collaboration depends on many factors and can produce significant improvements in your most important metrics. You may already be involved in affiliate marketing so close marketing collaboration will be nothing new to you. If so, then you can apply some of the same principles, such as Affise’s business intelligence to any new partnership.
Any partnership you form may be short-term for the duration of one campaign, or it could lead to something more permanent. You may partner on affiliate marketing; despite what many people think, migrating to a new platform is a straightforward process and can offer benefits to all involved.
At the end of the day, any collaborative partnership will be as good as the efforts put in by all parties. A good partnership marketing platform can be the foundation of success in relationship marketing and, if considering a long-term relationship, common tools and platforms make sense for collaboration marketing too. Get things right and your collaborative partnership can reap real rewards.
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