The five steps to a successful brand partnership


Looking for creative, cost-effective ways to boost your marketing efforts? Find out why a brand partnership can help – and the five steps to planning a successful one.

When it comes to marketing your business, there are a dizzying array of different options to explore. Find out why one of the favourites of Joanne Gray from The Progress Lab is a brand partnership.

The benefits of a brand partnership

A brand partnership is, quite simply, connecting with a like-minded brand and exploiting each other’s audience, reputation, marketing capability and activity to amplify your brand messages.

One of the great things about a brand partnership is that they don’t need to cost you any extra money. They’re usually based on mutual good will, with no money exchanging hands. Instead, it’s more a case of good old fashioned ‘you scrub my back, I’ll scrub yours’.

And given the increasing demands to create engaging content to fuel social media marketing plans, I believe that brand partnerships are even more important these days than when I was first doing them almost 20 years ago. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy when partnering with another brand:

  • You can both reach a bigger and broader audience, which alone you might not be able to access.
  • You’ll add value to your consumer proposition, providing something above and beyond what your brand can offer.
  • You’ll enhance your brand perception, particularly if you are associating yourself with aspirational brands that have already established strong brand values and have a solid loyal consumer base.

Five steps to a successful brand partnership

So how can you build and benefit from a brand partnership? Here are five steps to building a mutually profitable connection.

1) Pick the right brand

It’s important to connect with the right brand. There are two key considerations to bear in mind when choosing a brand to approach about a partnership:

  1. Are they consumer relevant? Don’t just pick a brand because you know someone who works for the company. Make sure that the brand is relevant to the people you want to attract – otherwise you may risk alienating them.
  2. Are they aligned? By associating yourself with another brand you are endorsing one another, so make sure you are very clear on what the partner brand stands for in terms of their values and ethics. You should be able to quickly identify these by looking at their website and can then validate further in a face to face meeting.

2) Work out what you want

Once, you have identified some brands to approach, do a little bit more work before making contact and get a rough idea of what you want.

Think about which marketing tactics you are already employing that you could allow another brand to be involved with. And have an understanding of the types of activities they are already doing, and where you see your brand fitting in.

Once you have a meeting to discuss joint opportunities then other ideas will no doubt come out, but it’s a good idea to have some thoughts for starters before you begin the conversation.

3) Approach the right person

If you are cold calling a brand owner or marketing manager to discuss partnership opportunities, there are a number of techniques to get noticed and to avoid you spending too much time chasing your tail. Bigger brands are likely to have a PR agency, and I would normally recommend making contact with them first.

PR managers are usually very reliable at passing on ideas to their clients – not only does it make them look good, but it might be something the PR agency would actually follow through with, so it’s in their interests to pursue it.

If the company you want to make contact with don’t have a PR agency, I’d always suggest picking up the phone. But if they are difficult to reach or you can’t find a phone number then try locating the Marketing Director or Marketing Manager on LinkedIn. Briefly explain your idea in the contact request and provide your email and phone number for them to follow up.

4) Be clear on each others’ objectives

When discussing opportunities with new brand partners, make sure you’re clear on each others’ objectives. Once you’ve determined the detail of the agreed activity, ensure each party is clear on their responsibilities and associated deadlines.

If it’s a big piece of activity, then it would make sense to have something in written and signed – there may not be any money involved in the actual partnership, but there may well be associated production costs So it’s important to agree upfront how these are paid for,put a value against each others’ activity and strive to create fair deal.

The only way for brand affinity partnerships to work in the long term is to create a win: win situation for both parties. The last thing you want is for one side of your partnership to just take, take, take because eventually the relationship will become toxic and fall apart.

5) Evaluate the campaign’s success

As with any marketing activity, it’s important to evaluate your brand partnership’s success during and after the campaign. So make sure you agree the metrics upfront and share the results with your brand partner.

If your objectives weren’t met, try to understand why and assess whether there is an opportunity to do something differently next time around based on the key learnings.

Examples of successful brand partnerships

To give you an idea of the types of brand connections and mechanics that make sense and have worked, here are a few of the successful partnerships I have facilitated over the years:

  • Centrum Multivitamins and Fitness First Gyms – free gym pass printed inside every packet of vitamins.
  • McVitie’s biscuits and PG Tips – competitions to win a year’s supply of tea & biccies
  • Disney Princess Potties and Huggies Pull-Ups – potty giveaway competition in the Huggies potty training newsletter.
  • Baby monitors and SMA baby milk – monthly monitor giveaway competition in the SMA Baby Club.
  • TOMY games and Ramada Family Hotel Chain – games to hire when families were checking in to the hotel with children.

If you need some help in devising a brand partnership or are looking for someone to connect your brand with other suitable partner brands, then contact us to discuss how we might be able to help you.

Want more cost-effective marketing tips? Read 10 free marketing ideas for small businesses

Joanne Gray is Founder and Chief Progressivist at The Progress Lab, a progressive thinking marketing consultancy aimed at helping ambitious people and businesses unleash their potential. 

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