What to Look for and What to Avoid in Marketing Partnerships

Growing a business through effective marketing is the goal but not every form of marketing gives the same bang for your buck. One marketing strategy that really delivers is partner marketing.

Partner marketing involves sharing the existing trusted relationships and customer networks between two organizations for mutual benefit. It is used by large multinational organizations like Salesforce and HubSpot as well as startups and businesses seeking to scale.

For example, an article in Entrepreneur magazine highlights how a brick and mortar retailer partnered with online platforms to extend the reach of both. Choosing partner companies where there are clear synergy and mutual benefit is key. But, what are the elements of a partner marketing plan that contribute to business success and what are the pitfalls to avoid?

What to Include in a Partner Marketing Plan

Creating a functional partner marketing plan requires ensuring that both parties benefit from the plan without hindering each other’s proprietary information.

Working together on email and content exchanges, among other things is a good way to begin your partner marketing strategy. Try these essential strategy steps.

Email Marketing Exchanges

Drafting an engaging email copy for distribution to a partner’s contact list is called an email marketing exchange. It is a great way to get any business in front of new potential customers.

Advise a business to target their content at the niche customer interests and needs. Have a clear call to action and create links to the business website using email opt-ins. As a result, new customers will be brought into their network for future marketing information.

Blog Exchanges

Writing a guest blog for a partner exposes the voice of a business to an audience that is already listening. It gives them an opportunity to present themselves as a thought leader in their field. In other words, a guest blog takes advantage of the credibility of an existing trusted platform.

Adding free white papers and resources to the blog for readers builds up their level of trust with the new business they are being exposed to. Most importantly, always collect contact information for downloadable content to ensure the business network keeps growing.

Participate in Webinars

Speaking on webinars or at an annual conference for a marketing partner gives a business access to a new network. These speaking engagements benefit the customer base by providing a broader range of topics that offer value to their companies. At the same time, both marketing partners benefit from the increase in diversity and extra interest generated by combining resources.

Cross-Site Advertising

Cross-site advertising is a clear and easy partner marketing win. Choosing the right partner ensures a match between customer needs and products and services offer. Businesses can, therefore, make their adverts compelling based on a knowledge of the partner’s business.

For instance, they can sell the specific benefit they bring to their partner’s customer base. Offering a promotion is one way to draw attention to a cross-site advert.

What to Avoid in Your Partner Marketing Plan

Working on a partner marketing plan isn’t all about the options you have in terms of sharing benefits. It will also have to include rules you should stick to in order to minimize different risks.

Sharing Customer Contact Information

Email marketing exchanges shouldn’t be confused with exchanging email addresses. This is where partners exchange their contacts for the distribution of marketing emails with other organizations. This is not a good idea. Always stress the importance of exchanging email copy, not the contact lists. This can be detrimental to the existing customer base.

No matter how successful the partner marketing plan seems to be, ideally, any email addresses you receive through signup forms like newsletters, account activations, payments etc. should be kept in the strictest of confidences.

Apply this same logic to phone numbers and addresses you receive as well.

Eroding the trust customers have placed in you by exposing customers to spam and other unsolicited marketing can have long-term negative effects including the loss of their business.

Partnering with Identical Competitors

When building your plan, make sure you’re not partnering with a company that sells the exact same services. You should each have differences that add value to each other’s clientele. Identical competitors increase the risk of losing your customers to their platforms when partnering together.

The Most Common Partner Marketing Mistakes

Partner marketing is a learning experience for first-timers. Even with an actionable plan that details what to include and avoid in your partnership, there are still common mistakes that are made. These are the ones you should avoid.

Not Ensuring Your Partner is Benefiting Too

You’re going to have to learn that your needs cannot be the most important, regardless of how big or small your partner is. When your plan isn’t 50/50, on occasion, make sure you’re willing to give a little more to your partner to ensure they’re also seeing the return in your partnership.

A way to do this is to include them in your public communications. Name them in your press releases and on your website. Also, include them in some newsletters and social media posts to increase their presence.

Not Enough Strategic Planning

Arguably, one of the biggest mistakes in partner marketing is not enough strategic planning. This goes hand-in-hand with not enough communication.

Before starting your marketing partnership, you should have a meeting with your partner to discuss resources and roles. To minimize costs, there may be some resources you can share like graphic design talent for certain projects.

Decide what each business will be responsible for. This will allow you to evenly distribute the work to your team. These discussions should be recorded on paper and shared with all members of the partnership teams.

After your marketing partnership is established, you should schedule regular communications with your partner. Discuss your ongoing needs and note any changes that should be made to the plan so everyone has an even chance for success.

Creating Short-Term Marketing Partnerships

Marketing partnerships revolve a lot around different forms of content. When it comes to content, most benefits are seen over a longer period of time. This includes link building campaigns, social media exposure and more.

It’s a mistake to create partner marketing plans that are meant for short-term goals, as any work done on them won’t necessarily see an immediate return. The shortest plan you should set is for six to nine months.

Ideally, partnerships should last between one and five years.

Neglecting Content Meant for Your Partner

The content you share with your partner should be created to the highest standard. Treat it as you would your own content. Remember, those viewing your content on their web properties are going to make determinations on your impressions based on the content they see. There will be no benefit if the content you’re sharing is not up to par.

Work with your partner to change or amend content to ensure it meets their standards. And extend the same courtesy to them when they’d like something they’ve shared with you updated. Also, be sure to let them know when their content needs to be revised before publishing.

Partner Marketing Case Studies

Several case studies conducted by detailed the successes partner marketing plans have had with several brands. One notable example was BarkBox and their partner marketing plan with several animal shelters.

The study found that managing communications with many partners at once was very difficult. But through the plan, BarkBox’s revenue increased by 32% on National Dog Day through its partnership with over 400 shelters. This proved a rigorous plan can see an immense benefit on just one strategic day, even more, when the goals are spread out.

Shipt, a subscription-based grocery delivery service saw a 65% QoQ revenue increased using a partner marketing plan they built from the ground up.

“They drastically reduced cost per acquisition by paying partners for the true value they generated, rather than just for the initial action. They began paying out a small amount for free trial signups, with a larger payout if the same customer ended up purchasing a subscription.”

Overall, well-planned marketing partnerships have a very good chance of success. They are versatile and can offer each partner strategic marketing advantages tailored to their needs.

Wrap Up

Partner marketing is an important element of marketing for any business whether at an enterprise level or startup. Both partners benefit from the expanded network of trusted relationships — helping each other to grow their customer bases.

At the same time, customers benefit from access to new products and services that genuinely improve their businesses. Following some good practical tips for implementing a partner marketing strategy could be the key to helping businesses in your network grow.

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