Partnership marketing is reaping great rewards for the businesses that embrace it. The right alliance can help differentiate your brand, add value to your customer relationships and create new revenue streams.
Increasingly, businesses are also discovering that partnership marketing is an extremely effective way to deepen customer loyalty. Developing a successful partnership calls for creative thinking, careful planning and close cooperation. Get it right and a partnership can deliver significant business benefits.
There are five key steps to partnership success:
1. Finding the right fit
A good brand match is the key - your ideal partner should share your brand values.
The right partner should also have a shared audience with similar profiles to your own and be able to offer new channels to reach those customers. Look for partners with good market share and high levels of customer service.
Above all, a successful partnership must enhance the reputation of both brands.
2. Setting objectives
Successful partnerships are founded on specific goals and parameters. Be very clear about what you are bringing to the table and what you want in return.
You'll need buy-in from a wide range of stakeholders, including those at the top levels of the businesses, so the shared benefits must be compelling.
Spell out those benefits - they could include increasing brand exposure, deepening customer loyalty, winning new business, opening up new channels of communication, capturing customer data and developing new ideas.
Think long term. Partnership marketing can take your brand to new places - where do you want to be?
3. Managing the campaign
Partnership marketing is about balancing the big picture with the detail. The right idea is important but execution is everything.
Agreement on logistics is vital. Who is doing what, and when? How will you monitor progress and measure success?
One of the big benefits of partnership marketing is the mutual sharing of resources. You can get more out of your marketing budget when you work with a partner. Money doesn't always have to change hands. However, it is important to ensure that the benefits of the partnership outweigh the time and effort involved and both parties elicit real value.
4. Creating experiences
There are many types of partnerships - from partner discounts to value-added extras that can boost customer loyalty in the long term.
It pays to devise a strategy with staying power by creating partnerships that tell a great story over many platforms. Experiences that money can't buy, for instance, lend themselves to interesting content that will be shared and talked about.
5. Integrating your strategy
It is vital that both parties integrate partnership activity with all aspects of your marketing and loyalty strategy. Partnership marketing works best when your great ideas are supported with PR and events. It's also important to get the buy-in of any third parties, such as retailers, that are essential to the success of your campaign.
Nike and Apple: the perfect match
The Nike+iPod Sport Kit was born out of an innovative partnership between Nike and Apple. Complementary brand values and a shared focus on performance brought these iconic names together. Now they have created a new world of opportunities - where sport and music meet.
The Nike+iPod wireless system allows Nike footwear users to communicate with their iPod giving them information on time and distance, the pace they've set and the number of calories they have burned. It was launched in 2006 and was an instant hit - over one million runners use it today.
The arrangement saw Nike paying for the marketing, while both companies shared the distribution costs. Now the Nike FuelBand - which works with an iPhone app - has strengthened the association even further.
The partnership is delivering far more than just a mutual brand endorsement. For both companies, it has opened up new channels to market and introduced new revenue streams.
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