Partner co-marketing is an excellent opportunity to grow your channel sales, build your audience, and generate qualified leads. In a recent survey, 54% of senior businesses leaders said partnerships drive over 20% of total company revenue. And after seeing co-marketing campaigns, 68% of consumers can make purchasing decisions before they even speak to sales.
By promoting a shared offer that benefits both you and your partner, you’ll see big results with less work as you share the load. But how do you plan and execute a successful co-marketing partnership?
Here are 7 steps to a successful co-marketing campaign to get you off to a flying start:
- Find your perfect partner
- Define success
- Create your ideal persona
- Decide your messaging and content
- Make a plan - and be ready to adapt
- Measure, measure, measure
- Learn and improve
1. Find your perfect partner
The right partnership can reap huge results. Just ask Kanye West.
When the superstar rap god partnered with Adidas to develop Yeezy, a high-end footwear line, the combination of Kanye’s brand and Adidas’ athletic apparel proved very profitable. It made Kanye a billionaire and caused Adidas’ net income to grow by 19.5%.
Co-branding partnerships can also give businesses a competitive edge. MasterCard, for example, teamed up with Apple to become the first credit card company to let people store credit and debit cards on Apple Pay, positioning them as leaders in contactless payments.
But not every collaboration is a sure-fire match made in heaven. Your partner must be a good fit and you need to ensure the partnership is mutually beneficial.
Here are the three most important things to think about when choosing your partner:
- Brand values – How closely do they align with yours? This will determine how seamless your co-marketing efforts are.
- Size – If your partner is a lesser-known brand with a small customer base and limited brand awareness, it may not be worth the effort. However, pitching to more established businesses takes more work and is a harder sell.
- Sharing knowledge and expertise – The more you can learn from your partnership, the better. What expertise do they have that you don’t?
2. Define success
Now you’re arm in arm with your new partner, it’s time to talk about what you want to achieve and establish clear objectives. Are you looking to drive up sales? Increase customer loyalty? Reach a new audience?
Start by agreeing on:
- How many leads you need to generate
- The quality and qualification of those leads
- Your ideal reach or traffic volumes
Once you know what success looks like, work out which areas you and your partner excel at. Then you can set tasks that play to the strengths of each business.
3. Create your ideal persona
To ensure real benefits and ROI, you need to know your audience. If you try to reach everyone, you’ll alienate the customers who matter.
Define a persona – your ‘ideal buyer’ – and create a campaign that speaks to them. Which features of your co-branded offer are most important to this persona? Highlight those features in a way that makes you and your partner stand out from your competitors.
4. Choose the right topic and content
Generating leads isn’t just about pushing products. You need clear, enticing campaign messages centred around the needs of your audience.
When it comes to creating campaign assets for your campaign, don’t be tempted by the easy route of recycling content. Start from scratch and build tailor-made assets. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some assets that often work well in co-marketing campaigns:
- eBooks – A common co-marketing content asset, eBooks are great because you can divide up the workload easily between the content and design departments.
- Blogs – These are relatively quick to produce and take less time to research than eBooks. And you can write guests posts for each other’s blogs.
- Webinars – With your new partnership, you have access to fresh expertise. Perfect for some insightful, educational co-hosted webinars.
- Videos – Get your brand and messaging out to more people by creating a video with your partner.
- Events – You and your partner can co-host events, online or in-person. Co-brand the entire event to get both your brand's messaging in front of everyone who attends.
Whichever content you choose, it should be valuable, relevant, and highly targeted to your persona's pain points. And don’t forget to ensure that all assets are co-branded.
5. Make a plan – and be ready to adapt
Now it’s time to create a timeline. Decide who will be responsible for creating and promoting each asset, and when. This gets everyone onto the same page – and gets the work completed to schedule.
Get everyone together to discuss which tactics you'll use for promotion. You have many inbound marketing channels at your disposal. For example, you could use blogs to drive traffic to your content and offers. Or you could promote your content on social media, using hashtags to drive awareness of your campaign. Ensure all the people involved know the timeframes for promotion at least two or three weeks before the launch date.
There’ll always be a small, shared level of risk when you’re working with a partner on a marketing campaign. Create a clear back-out plan to follow in case either of you gets into a tight spot – a negative PR situation, say. It will give both parties peace of mind.
Once your plan and timeline are in place, be patient. Your campaign is unlikely to generate headline results from day one. Look at the insights you gather as you go and use them to change your approach if you need to. And if, worst-case scenario, your campaign fails, have pre-agreed signals you can use to flag the warning signs.
6. Measure, measure, measure
Your campaign is live – but is it working? The only way to know is to track your progress every step of the way, so you can measure and share the results.
Use in-depth analytics and campaign data reporting to track conversions and where they originate from. You can also use lead-scoring to establish the quality of each lead generated from your campaign and give it a rating.
Before launching the campaign, you’ll need to agree with your partner on the criteria you want to use to score leads, such as visits, pages viewed, and form submissions. With the right technology, you can use predictive lead scoring to detect how ready a prospect is to convert at each stage of the purchase journey.
7. Learn and improve
There is no perfect co-marketing campaign. There’ll always be something you can learn from the partnership that will inform and improve your next one.
When the project ends, ask yourself:
- What worked, and what didn’t?
- How did your partner contribute to your success?
- How easy (or difficult) was it to work with them?
- What did they bring to the campaign that you couldn’t have brought yourself?
Start reaping the rewards of successful
A successful co-marketing campaign can be hugely beneficial for both you and your partner.
You’ll be able to:
- Reach bigger and more diverse audiences
- Generate higher-quality leads
- Share the effort and resources
- Measure and repeat your success
With the right partnership, tools, and approach, you can gain far bigger rewards together than on your own.