How Partnership Marketing Can Boost Your Business

One of the biggest problems for startup businesses or SMEs is audience growth. How can your brand attract new visitors, followers and customers? It’s a task which takes money, time and hard work, often yielding poor results. Thankfully, there are a few simple initiatives you can implement to boost this exponentially. Partnership Marketing is one of these. Innovate UK have put together a few tips to help you on your way to a successful collaboration strategy.

Target Established Businesses 

“Look outside your industry for examples of successful partnerships you can replicate” – Ryan Leighton, CEO of Leightons Group.

To make the most of partnership marketing, you need to target businesses that already have access to your target audience. You should never approach a competitive company but instead a complimentary one who your consumers already buy from. For example, think of a tailor and shoe maker working together, it’s a mutually beneficial partnership. 

So what are the benefits of this?
•It allows both brands to reach a greater audience
•It adds value to your current consumers
•It enhances brand perception – lets you tap into the values/voice/style of the other brand
•It boosts brand trust and reputation

Collaborations like this aren’t just applicable to startups or SMEs. Even global companies like to get involved. A recent high profile example of this saw GoPro and Red Bull team up. Red Bull are world-renowned for their involvement in the extreme sports market. GoPro are famous for their POV image technology. Neither offer competitive products. It’s a perfect match.   

Research Your Target Market 

“If you are operating on a limited budget, partnerships should be the first thing on your marketing to-do list” – Xaver Matt, MD of Netleadz and Angel Investor.

You need to pick the right brand. Don’t skim over this process. If the brand’s not right, you’ll waste a lot of time, effort and potentially money. When you think you’ve found the right company to pair up with, ask yourself these simple questions: 

•Are their products/services relevant to your target audience?
•Are their values/ethics comparable to your own? Are you willing to put your name behind their brand?
•What can you offer them? 
•What can they offer you?

Once you’ve made a decision about which brand you’d like to work with, it’s time to plan your approach. Don’t just send an email, it’s likely to be ignored. Start off on social media. Follow the brand, like their posts and share their content. Do this for long enough that they’ll see you regularly appearing on their social feed. Now it’s time to approach, send a direct message and get the ball rolling. 

Start Your Collaboration Simple
“Simple APIs are a great way to hook new partners and gain instant access to their audiences” – Nick Lyons, CEO of Kaptur Software.

Now you’re ready to begin discussing how you’ll collaborate together. It’s always important to start things simple. There’s no logic in going straight for a big-money strategy. Working together on social media and content promotion is a great place to begin. This will allow you to gauge how successful a campaign will actually be. Think outside the box, how about a Twitter competition or blog exchange? 

When you get to the stage of discussing the partnership, be clear about your objectives. There’s no shame in wanting to tap into the other brand’s younger audience or edgier vibe. If you’re both honest, you can tailor your approach to help each other. 

Use Data and Insights to Maximise Benefits
“Partnering with Zoopla increased our audiences tenfold overnight, gaining us vital user data to refine our proposition” – Barry Bridges, CEO of Property Detective.

This point can’t be overlooked. You need to analyse the data. The more you understand about a campaign’s performance, the easier it is to see where things can be improved. To do this, you first need to understand your brand will define as success. This could be anything from traffic to conversions or even social media engagement. 

When you’ve understood which metrics are most important to you, you can begin to analyse how successful the partnership is compared to solo campaigns. If your expectations aren’t met, you can use the data to ask why. This will be vital for future marketing activities. 

Follow these simple tips and your partnership will be successful. If you’re interested in finding more startup and SME business tips like this, you can subscribe to Innovate UK’s YouTube channel here. 

Additionally, you can follow @InnovateUK on Twitter here.