Are you considering co-marketing to give your digital strategy a boost? In this article, I will give you some tips on how to set up a co-branding partnership.
Co-marketing can be useful in any brand wishing to expand its audience, increase brand awareness and offer a new type of content to its audience.
However, identifying a commonality of intent for a co-marketing agreement is less trivial than one might think, as different realities may have different marketing objectives, also in view of the business life cycle in which they find themselves: if a start-up will focus more on brand awareness, an established and already well-known brand will be more oriented towards capitalizing on the strength of its brand in lead generation and conversions.
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What is co-marketing?
Co-operative marketing, also known as co-marketing, is a collaboration between companies, preferably regulated by contract, in which they engage in the implementation of the same project to achieve common goals.
Generally speaking, it is used to increase the offer of products and/or services, satisfy more needs and thus offer more value to one’s target audience.
It may happen that partner companies collaborate on promotional initiatives for a co-branded offer. You will often have heard the two terms used indiscriminately, but what is the real difference between co-marketing and co-branding?
- creation of a new product (e.g. MCFlurry Oreo):
- the value of both brands (McDonald’s and Oreo) is unified and transferred into the same one.
One can therefore consider co-branding a more intense form of co-marketing, in existence when two brands are combined in the realization of a new product or service. However, the two terms are commonly used as synonyms even among insiders.
There are countless examples of co-marketing on the market, but we can distinguish four types of co-marketing on the basis of the famous ‘4 P’s of marketing (product/service, price, promotion, point of sale):
- Product or service co-marketing
- Price co-marketing
- Co-marketing promotion
- Distribution co-marketing
Here are some concrete examples.
Product or service co-marketing
Product or service co-marketing represents the most demanding co-marketing agreement between two partners and is, in essence, a form of co-branding, involving the creation of a new product or service through the collaboration of two different brands.
Besides the already mentioned partnership between McDonald’s and Oreo, another well-known example of co-branding, on the service side, is the co-marketing agreement between Mastercard and Apple, which allowed the former to virtualize its payment card data on the Cupertino giant’s mobile payment app: a synergetic effort that brought unquestionable added value for the target audience of both companies of the well-known brands.
It represents the case where two companies offer their respective products or services in combination to the consumer, offering the latter a price advantage. Known as bundling, it is often used in both the physical and online marketplaces: the offer of reciprocal discounts between airlines and online accommodation booking agencies is an example of this and underlies the partnership agreement between Booking and Easyjet.
It occurs when a partnership agreement between two companies establishes a mutual promotion through the shared display of their logos within promotional initiatives. In this way, partner companies can exploit the synergies created by the association of brands in the consumer’s mind at the display of an advertising message or event: this is the case of the collaboration between GoPro and RedBull, where the shared values related to eventful, daring and sometimes extreme lifestyles make them a good example of a marketing mix for co-branding campaigns.
It implies the distribution of products and/or services of one brand through the sales channels of another company, leading to a mutual benefit in terms of cost reduction for the former and expansion of the offer for the latter. Telephone top-ups, which can be purchased at the checkout of a supermarket, are an example of co-marketing distribution resulting from the agreement between some telephone companies and large supermarket brands.
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How does co-marketing work?
A co-marketing activity is a lever that can make all the difference within a digital strategy: the synergetic efforts of two partners allow for increased effectiveness and efficiency in achieving the goals in a co-marketing campaign, amplifying reach, word-of-mouth and generating more leads than would be produced through disjointed initiatives.
In a co-marketing agreement, both brands work on the same content, promote it to the same audience and share the results. Webinars, e-books, and videos are, in a digital strategy, content formats used to generate leads and acquire contact information: by sharing the data released in the contact form before downloading the offer, they obtain twice as many contacts as they would normally have.
In addition, the implementation of a co-branding initiative allows costs to be shared between the two partners. The key to the success of any co-marketing agreement is to ensure that the purpose and goal of the project are similar for both parties. In other words, to create a partnership in a digital strategy, both partners must look at the initiative as serving the same stage of the customer journey funnel: if one partner needs leads and the other needs conversions, it will be difficult to reconcile the two different needs within the same project. The identification of strategic partnerships is therefore indispensable for a successful co-branding project.
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How to create strategic partnerships
Knowing how to identify strategic partnerships is indispensable for a successful co-marketing project. Below, I will show you some best practices to consider, which can help you in identifying the right partner with whom to initiate a co-branding agreement for a digital strategy:
- Willingness to grow on the part of the potential partner: this is the pillar on which the entire activity rests: an unmotivated company, which takes the project sufficiently seriously, would already lead to the failure of the co-marketing initiative.
- Similar and wide audience: Is the other brand’s audience similar to yours? How many contacts could you get from a possible partnership? Communicating to different targets, as well as small audiences, could affect the results.
- Non-competitive, complementary brand: for obvious reasons, it is best to avoid proposing a co-branding collaboration with a competitor of yours; instead, a partnership with a brand with a complementary business to yours that can convey added value to your audience might make sense.
- Complementary experiences/expertise: this is the case with digital agencies, whose specific and individual expertise (e.g. SEO agency and inbound marketing agency) can be integrated into a co-marketing offer for the benefit of the target market
- Similar size: the company must be of comparable size and importance to yours for you to be considered as a potential partner.
- Brand reputation: assess well the reputation of the brand with which you want to enter into a partnership agreement before it is too late: it could save you future problems in terms of credibility and communication with your audience.
A detailed analysis of the partner company‘s target market, as well as of the company itself, is therefore the starting point for creating a partnership in a success-oriented digital strategy.
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Co-marketing agreement: peculiarities and planning
What are the peculiarities of a co-marketing agreement? A partnership agreement implies a contract that enshrines a mutual commitment between the two brands, temporally defined and limited to certain areas, as well as clauses on conditions to be fulfilled and possible termination of the relationship. The objectives pursued may be common or complementary, in any case, compatible with the same target group.
Even before the contract, however, you need to carefully plan the co-branding activity you are going to propose to the potential partner. Let’s find out together which four best practices you should keep in mind before embarking on a co-marketing agreement and how to create winning partnerships for your digital strategy.
Launch an idea
Be proactive, and come up with an idea: analyze your potential partner, their market, and their needs, emphasizing the value your initiative will bring them. If you are not the strongest brand, emphasize clearly what their benefits and missed opportunities will be if you reject your proposal.
Define your co-branding goals
Outline your co-branding goals and propose a coherent digital strategy to achieve them; however, it is crucial that your goals and those of your partner are aligned: different marketing goals (lead vs. conversion) can lead to failure.
The theme and topic of the content to be shared and promoted must be agreed upon: therefore propose a topic that will be mutually beneficial and attract both targets. Also, consider adopting a shared calendar: in a co-marketing campaign, it allows you to optimize time and keep up with deadlines, as well as monitor the counterpart’s activity.
Formalizing a co-marketing partnership agreement
Like any commercial agreement, it is important that your partnership is also formalized with all the appropriate formalities through a co-marketing agreement. An upstream agreement is important to settle any disputes or if communication problems occur.
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Genre of co-marketing content in a digital strategy
Having understood the strategic importance of a co-marketing agreement and its planning, let us now take a look at what kind of content you could put in place. There are different types of content that can be developed in co-branding within a digital strategy. Below are the most commonly used genres:
- Video Series
The e-book is a very common form of co-marketing content. Its strength is the simplicity in dividing the work for its realization: you can decide to devote yourself to the textual part and assign the design part to the brand partner or vice versa.
Webinars are often the most important kind of co-branded content: an informative and educational resource that is enjoying great success among digital audiences, they are able to generate qualified leads. Also not to be underestimated is their convenience, in terms of time and money, for both organizing companies and participants: there is no need to rent or travel to any dedicated space and they can be accessed from anywhere.
Videos are a great medium to spread your message while promoting both brands: video interviews are one of the most exploited formats. It may not be as easy to afford to host team members from Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook as Hubspot, but this series of video interviews well exemplify the potential of this co-marketing content.
Co-creating a blog post on the corporate blog is one of the least demanding ways to realize a co-marketing project allowing for increased traffic, especially if it deals with complementary services or products for the target audience. Nevertheless, good positioning of the blog on search engines for the focus keywords of the co-marketing activity is a good SEO practice, which is indispensable to increase the visibility of the initiative and bring traffic to the site. Do you lack the skills to create attractive content for a successful blog? Learn with the right training!
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An infographic is a much-appreciated resource for digital users, as it is a quickly useful tool to solve a doubt or get immediate orientation. However, being costly, even more so than an e-book, a co-marketing activity could streamline its realization by splitting the work and increasing the distribution coverage on the respective marketing channels.
The newsletter allows you to share information or show an aggregated service to potential customers in your partner company databases, doubling your reach. The content of the message should make it clear that the co-branding initiative involves both your brand and the partner company.
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Promote your content in co-branding
Once you have defined the content to be developed in partnership, a co-branding agreement should also cover the channels on which to promote it, consistent with the digital strategy adopted. An example of an inbound marketing-oriented co-branding initiative could involve the integrated use of the following channels:
- Guest Post
- Landing page
- Social media
- E-mail marketing
The reciprocal publication of guest posts on each other’s blogs is a great way to communicate and drive traffic to your content and co-marketing offers: in addition, e-mail and social networks are the channels to drive traffic to your site and blog, widening the pool to reach your respective audiences.
As the mainstay of inbound marketing, a co-branded landing page allows leads to be channeled into the same database, enabling e-marketing campaigns consistent with the co-marketing initiative: it is important that both logos are prominent and present on the landing page, as well as in all subsequent channels.
Although undervalued, e-mail is still one of the best ways to reach a multitude of people quickly and simultaneously: webinars, e-books, videos, and infographics, are all content that lends themselves to being promoted through this tool. What’s more, by creating unique tracking URLs, you will be able to determine which contacts come from where, and compare your efforts with those of your co-marketing partner.
Promoting your content on social media is a great way to increase your brand awareness, and in this case, the awareness of your co-marketing campaign among your target audience.
Publish posts with a call to action to your website content or dedicated landing page, remembering to tag your co-marketing partner: similar social activity should also be mirrored by the brand you collaborate with so that there is a mutual benefit from cross-promotion, as well as a dissemination of the initiative to a wider audience. Therefore, consider adopting a social media strategy that integrates the main social networks, not forgetting the potential of Twitter to enhance the visibility of the co-marketing initiative through sponsored trend topics.
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The advantages of co-marketing
Although the benefits of a co-branding collaboration vary depending on the marketing objectives to be realized, creating a partnership in a digital strategy involving a co-marketing agreement will basically bring the following benefits:
- Reduction of campaign implementation costs
- Sharing with a qualified audience of potential customers
- Establishing a solid relationship with the partner company
- Perceived added value for the audience
The last element is undoubtedly the most important one: just as you place the client at the center of your digital marketing strategy, it must also be at the center of your co-marketing initiative. Do you want to learn how to do it like a pro? Discover the Digital Marketing Program!
A well-planned and agreed co-branding activity, based on a project-oriented towards the customer and its real needs, has all the credentials to bring additional value that can only be recognized and appreciated by the target audience, resulting in positive spin-offs both in terms of brand awareness, reputation, and future conversions.
I hope these tips have helped you identify co-marketing best practices for creating a partnership in a digital strategy. If you already have an idea in mind and would like to explore its feasibility, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free strategic consultation.
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