Building a business can be a lonely endeavour. But marketing one doesn’t have to be.
Co-marketing is about sharing audiences and resources between two complementary brands to execute a campaign that neither one could do as effectively alone.
These strategic partnerships can benefit big businesses and new startups alike, sharing what they have instead of building from scratch to get more exposure for each of their products or services.
The benefits of co-marketing include:
- Being more cost-effective by pooling together resources like marketing budgets and talent.
- Sharing audiences of similar people who are already qualified as potential customers.
- Creating and fostering a positive long-term relationship between brands as they help each other out.
- Delighting customers with free stuff, giveaways and co-branded products.
Co-marketing campaigns will take on different forms for B2B vs. B2C brands, for products vs. services, for new startups vs. established brands. However, with a little creativity, you can connect the dots between you and a partner brand to expand the impact of both of your marketing efforts.
But first, let’s talk about one of the core tenants of co-marketing: Reciprocity.
Always Ask: What’s In It For You Both?
A good co-marketing campaign benefits everyone involved: you, your partner and the customer.
Co-marketing is hard to pitch if the benefits are one-sided. Entering into the agreement has to make sense business-wise for both parties. Don’t only think about what’s in it for you.
Not only do the benefits have to go two-ways, but they should be proportionate—that is, one party shouldn’t reap a big reward while the other just gets the scraps.
Think about how bees and flowers help each other out.
The bees get the nectar they need to thrive from the flower and the flower gets to take advantage of the bee’s mobility to spread its pollen. There’s a fair balance when it comes to the benefits that exist in this relationship.
Now apply that analogy to two complementary brands and you’ll see how these non-competitive relationships can be useful for everyone involved.
The exchange can be anything from:
- Harnessing the reputation of another brand while giving them exposure to more potential customers.
- Sharing the emails you capture from a campaign that you both contribute resources to execute.
- Doing a guest appearance on each other’s blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, Snapchat accounts or email lists.
- Showcasing your partner’s brand in front of your audience in exchange for getting some time in front of theirs.
- Getting samples of your product into the hands of qualified customers in exchange for delighting another company’s customers with free stuff.
If the nature of the exchange is fair and the terms are explicit, co-marketing can be an effective way to tap into new audiences, and drive down the cost of marketing while improving its impact .
The hard part will be finding a like-minded partner you can work with.
How to Find and Create Strategic Partnerships
There are as many opportunities for co-marketing as you care to look for, but sourcing them all comes down to some old-fashioned networking and business development.
Ideally, you’ll be on the lookout for the following criteria in your partner:
- They aren’t a competitor—or better yet, they complement you.
- They have a sizeable audience (email list, social following, etc.)
- They are a similar-sized company and aren’t “too big to work with you”.
You’ll have an easier time if you have an existing relationship with someone there who can help implement the co-marketing campaign.
But if that’s not the case, which is likely if you’re a new company, you can still make it happen.
There are 3 free tools I’d recommend for this purpose:
- Clearbit Connect to help you find the email you need to reach out to the contacts you want.
- Streak to help you track when your emails are opened, build and manage contact lists, and save templates that you can re-use on an ongoing basis.
- SimilarWeb to help you evaluate a potential partner’s website as an opportunity by analyzing the amount of traffic, traffic sources and other signals that identify a good partnership.
But before you reach out to another company, make sure you have some ideas to pitch.
Without any marketing ideas, it’s unlikely you’ll get a reply, let alone a “Yes, let’s work together”. And like I said, you need to frame your pitch in a way where your partner benefits.
Here’s an email outreach template you can use to get started:
I’m the [JOB TITLE] at [COMPANY & LINK TO YOUR SITE], a [QUICK ELEVATOR PITCH].
I wanted to reach out to you about a partnership with [PARTNER COMPANY], because [SHOW YOU DID YOUR RESEARCH].
Here’s what I propose: [CO-MARKETING IDEA].
Since [EMPHASIZE THE BENEFIT TO THEM], I thought you might be interested in working together on a campaign.
Let me know if this sounds good to you or if you have any other ideas for working together.
Craft the perfect elevator pitch with these free templates!
Perfect your pitch to sell your idea better and improve your business development efforts.