15 Best Practices To Ensure A Successful Partner Marketing Initiative

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15 Best Practices To Ensure A Successful Partner Marketing Initiative

Partnering with another business in a related vertical to collaborate on your marketing efforts is a potentially lucrative strategy that can help you gain new customers. By sharing costs and leveraging insights into the needs, desires and pain points that are relevant to each other’s audience, your outreach to connect with new prospects becomes both more economical and effective.

Forbes Agency Council

When executed well, your partnership can supplement the work of your in-house or agency marketing team and help you grow your audience and your business. Without an effective plan, though, it could become a frustrating and ultimately futile experience. Here, members of Forbes Agency Council each share one best practice to ensure your efforts result in a powerful success for both brands.

1. Do Your Homework On Potential Partners

Before partnering with anyone, do your homework! It’s like dating: Ask questions, get to know who this potential partner is, ask about prior experiences and then see if you can do a trial period. Networking, partnering and taking risks is how companies grow and succeed, but it is key to always be smart about your decisions and know when to not partner up. – Zack Teperman, ZTPR

2. Ensure Your Combined Skills Deliver More Value

The success of a powerful partnership always starts with aligned goals and values. It’s not about simply liking a brand or having overlapping customers, but rather whether the partnership would have a meaningful impact. In other words, do your combined skills make you stronger together in delivering value to customers? From there, you can then pick the right projects to partner on. – Sue Manber, Publicis Health

3. Set Goals And Make Ownership Decisions As A Team

Clear communication is always the key to a successful partner marketing campaign. Set your goals in writing as a team, establish an approach and decide who owns what when it comes to execution. The clearer the goals, roles and expectations, the higher the likelihood of finding success. – Corbett Drummey, Popular Pays

4. Partner With Complementary Brands On Product Collaborations

Direct-to-consumer and e-commerce companies can extend their reach by identifying complementary brands to partner with on product collaborations. Partners benefit when they both bring a healthy audience to the relationship and have a plan to build excitement around the product. To build excitement, create limited-release collaborations and give your customers an opportunity to buy something unique. – Benjamin Collins, Laughing Samurai

5. Determine Business Objectives Up Front

If you share the same audience, then partnerships can be a great way to extend your reach. Determine business objectives up front to ensure mutual success. Hold regular status calls and work from one project plan to stay on track during the planning and execution phases. To be a true partner, it helps if everyone contributes similarly and meets their deadlines. – Gina Michnowicz, The Craftsman Agency

6. Set The Tone For A Healthy Working Relationship During Onboarding

Best practices for partner marketing depend on which phase of the process you are in. I believe teams can set themselves up for success during the onboarding phase by identifying who is responsible for what and deciding on the best methods of communication between teams to set the tone of a healthy working relationship to deal with conflict if and when it arises. – Jonathan Hanson, Unconquered

7. Ensure The Mutual Audience Can See Both Brands’ Benefits

Partnerships can be incredibly successful, provided that the mutual audience is able to see the benefits provided by both brands. This means that the brands not only need to attract a similar audience, but also ensure a similar reach and visibility for both partners to see the most effective return. – David Harrison, EVINS

8. Create An Efficient Communication Channel

Make sure both partners stay involved by creating an efficient communication channel. Schedule regular meetings where you provide each other with updates. For it to be a success, it is crucial to ensure that you are sharing relevant data, such as sales, to measure the performance KPIs of the partnership. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency

9. Ensure Full Data Transparency

Data transparency is key to partner marketing success. Data must be shared between partners to understand the impact that each brand’s efforts have on the other’s success. An updated customer relationship management system and an integrated measurement strategy are vital to understanding the full user journey across all brand touch points, from first exposure to final purchase. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

10. Try Co-Producing A Webinar Together

This can work out really well if your and your partner’s services or offerings complement each other. For example, if they are marketing gurus and you are unsurpassable in sales, you can co-host an extremely valuable learning experience for both audiences. And if you co-promote it through your respective channels, you’ll reach twice as many people. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

11. Make Sure There Is Alignment Between The Brands

For successful partner marketing, there needs to be an alignment between the brands from the start. If the two companies in question have very little in common and very little that they can offer audiences together, then it will be ultimately futile. A good example of this working is the partnership between Adidas and Peloton, two sports brands that can offer both of their audiences something they want. – Lisa Montenegro, Digital Marketing Experts – DMX

12. Test The Waters Before Jumping Into A Partnership

It’s vital that you test the waters before you jump into a full-on partnership. We first try to do a simple content swap. We note how responsive they are, if they actually follow through and so on. Then, if that’s a positive experience, we’ll start working on something much larger: a webinar, a co-branded funnel or a referral sequence, for example. This ensures that neither brand’s time is wasted if it doesn’t come to fruition. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH

13. Create An In-Depth Partnership Calendar

In addition to having a solid plan, there should be a clear line in the sand as to where one team’s initiatives end and the other team’s begin. Yes, you’re partnering together, but you don’t want to make more work for each other or step on toes. Create an in-depth partnership calendar that outlines who is doing what and when. Having a solid plan to help reduce friction can be invaluable. – Bernard May, National Positions

14. Plan To Give More Value Than The Other Partner

Marketers typically approach these things worried that the deal will be uneven. If you’re concerned that the other partner will get more out of the deal or invest less—so they “win” and you lose—who cares? Set your own goals, but also try to give more than you take. Everything will go more smoothly, and that is a win in and of itself. – Michael Parise, DENT Agency LLC

15. Develop An Agreement At The Partnership’s Inception

To ensure a successful partner marketing campaign, both parties should be present at the inception meeting and agree on the goals and key outcomes for the campaign. If an agreement to ensure success hasn’t been determined from the beginning, it will be hard to cross the finish line successfully. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

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