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An Introduction to Partnership Marketing

There’s one constant in marketing, everything changes.

Just think about how many kinds of B2B marketing strategies exist today:

  • Affiliate
  • Agile
  • Behavioral
  • Content
  • Direct
  • Drip
  • Inbound
  • Local
  • Mobile
  • Multichannel
  • Word-of-mouth

The list is seemingly endless and trying to keep up with the growing list of techniques can be challenging. Hone in on the types of marketing that will be most beneficial for your firm and the goals you’re trying to reach. One lead generation idea that’s often overlooked by professional services firms is partnership marketing.

Partnership Marketing Defined

Partnership marketing is a strategic collaboration between two or more firms that helps each firm reach their respective business goals. Goals could include:

  1. Increasing brand awareness and reach.
  2. Generating more website and social media traffic.
  3. Growing your number of conversions.
  4. Customer acquisition and retention.

The Search for Partnership Perfection

Before you begin your search for potential partners to collaborate with, nail down the goals you want to achieve from these relationships. This will help inform your search.

Look for firms with similar target audiences and ones that offer complementary products or services. It is crucial that there are no conflicts of interest by working with these firms. 

It’s also a good idea to find firms that have a similar set of values—this will make the actual partnership much more enjoyable for both parties.

Then, look for mutually beneficial partnership opportunities. Some possibilities include:

  • Hosting a joint webinar.
  • Exchanging content with your respective audiences.
  • Conducting a research study together or sharing research findings.
  • Producing a premium piece of content together, like an eBook.
  • Referring prospects to one another when appropriate.

Don’t expect there to be a one-size-fits-all partnership template because the right opportunities can vary drastically from partner to partner.

Building the Relationship

Upon identification of potential partners, take the leap and reach out.

If email is your initial approach, keep it short and concise. Make the intention of the email and the value of a partnership clear. Show that you’ve done your research. As you begin piquing interest and getting responses, focus on building relationships. Partnerships are a big investment for all parties—don’t rush into it.

Initial discussions should be focused on getting to know one another and assessing fit. If circumstances allow, phone calls or video conference calls are preferable to email chains. These interactions are more personal and will better indicate what it’d be like to work together.

Keep in mind that not everyone you speak with will make a good strategic marketing partner. Fear not. At the very least, you’ve made a connection and opportunities to collaborate may arise down the road.

Setting Proper Expectations

Not all partnerships will look alike—so, identify the specific collaboration opportunities that all firms are comfortable with and begin planning. With multiple parties involved, it’s essential to begin the planning process well in advance of an actual event. Be sure discuss all potential snafus upfront and set proper expectations.

Let’s illustrate with an example. If you’re conducting a joint webinar, here are some details to iron out before committing:

  • Who are the presenters and who are the main points of contact at each firm?
  • Which firm will host the webinar and set up the registration page?
  • Who will be creating the presentation slides and what will the editing process look like?
  • How will each firm promote the webinar, and when?
  • What are the deadlines to keep things on track?
  • Will the list of registrants be shared?
  • Are there any follow-up activities that each firm will conduct?

Determining all the details from the get-go will make the partnership process smooth and help ensure a positive experience for all parties involved. Meaningful strategic partnerships are all about expectations and planning. Set out with a firm grasp on your goals. Build trusting relationships with firms that can help you reach those goals, while you help them reach theirs as well — and elevate your marketing to the next level.

 

Additional Resources

To learn how to integrate partnership marketing into your content strategy, download our Content Marketing Guide for Professional Services.

Rachna Raniga

Author: Rachna J. Raniga Rachna brings exceptional business instincts and a wealth of experience to her role as account director. Relentlessly helpful, she has an exceptional ability to establish and nurture relationships with her clients and teams. Creative and quick on her feet, no challenge is too big or small.

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