Partnership marketing can be extremely effective, but it’s not an easy process by any means. You have to be open-minded and willing to give up some control in order to see the benefits of this marketing strategy, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into before jumping into the partnership waters. Whether you want to partner with companies that make similar products or want to team up with completely unrelated brands and businesses, these 10 ways will help you approach partnership marketing the right way from the start.
Establish your brand image before you start
Whether you’re launching a business or are already established, there’s always room for improvement. This means re-examining your brand image and ensuring that it projects your business accurately to current and potential customers. For beginners, developing your brand can be difficult—especially in partnership marketing—so make sure that you take a step back and evaluate it from an outside perspective before you get started. Once you have an idea of what kind of image works best with your industry, work on establishing yourself accordingly.
Understand what partnership marketing is
Online business marketing is much different than traditional offline marketing in one key way: you’re in charge of every aspect of your campaign. You can design your own creative, connect with prospective partners and choose how you want your message to be shared. But if you’re looking for outside help and resources, partnership marketing may be right for you. Partnering with other businesses—not competitors—means more people will hear about what you do and check out your website, product or service.
Partnerships are not something you sign away on a contract and move on with your life. It’s an ongoing process that requires careful negotiation, collaboration, and communication. One of your first orders of business should be to set clear expectations with each partner—both partners need to know what they’re getting into, so there aren’t any surprises down the road.
Educate yourself about partnerships
A successful partnership marketing campaign requires that you do your homework. That means educating yourself about partnerships and making sure you’re clear on what your partnership entails before agreeing to it. Partnering with a business outside of your niche or niche-adjacent may have some appeal in terms of increasing exposure, but partnering with someone who sells directly competitive products or services isn’t likely going to be worthwhile.
Become visible in the community
One of the biggest concerns most small businesses have about using social media is that it won’t be able to help them reach a large enough audience. In reality, your social media network is likely much larger than you think. Here are some tips on how to become visible in your community
Send thoughtful thank you notes
Thank you notes are a great way to create long-term relationships with your partners. Not only does it show that you’re appreciative of their support, but it also helps keep you top of mind and gives them something to discuss with you in person later. You should be sending thank you notes within 24 hours of receiving your materials from any partner, whether or not they have advertised or done business with your company yet.
Develop a relationship with influencers
No matter what field you’re in, business partnerships and influencers can be a great way to connect with customers. However, it’s important that you don’t compromise your integrity when working with influencers; work only with people who have good reputations and relevant industry knowledge. This is because even though they might have more followers than you do, their followers will just as easily take their recommendations from another source if your content isn’t up to par.
Set clear goals and measure results
Before you start partnering with anyone, decide exactly what it is you’re looking for. Is it exposure? More clients? And have a clear idea of how you plan on measuring results at each step. Do you want 100 new email subscribers from your next marketing campaign or more than 5,000 unique visitors to your website in 30 days? Do you want a certain number of sales within those first 30 days?
Get support from your partner organization
If you’re worried about reaching out to potential partners without having a track record of partnership success, then reach out first and ask if they have time to connect. Sometimes your efforts will be rebuffed, but even a no is progress in that it can give you an idea of whether or not your offer would appeal. Most of all, though, a simple connection can build relationships that can lead to other opportunities later down the road.
Share positive stories and media. Happy customers, employees and partners can help paint a glowing picture of your business that will attract more positive attention. Nothing is as contagious as positivity; if you want to change what others are saying about your business, then start spreading some cheer. Keep it up, and soon enough others will follow suit with their own stories. Before you know it, you’ll be known as a company everyone loves working with—and partnering with—thanks in part to your viral good vibes!