One of the core goals of any marketing strategy is to add more value and create more revenue in the most resourceful possible way. Co-marketing strategies are among the most popular and effective ways to achieve cost-effective and valuable marketing success. As the saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one’, and many companies find the value, expertise and resources of two companies can combine to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
Co-marketing refers to when similar, but non-competing, companies share or collaborate on marketing material. Research by PwC and IAB shows that there has been significant growth in spending on these collaborative strategies over the past few years. According to the report, consumers spent £554 million in 2017 on affiliate marketing and lead generation activities.
For other companies, however, co-marketing presents plenty of risk – particularly if the other partner doesn’t pull their weight. And there’s an understandable reluctancy to spend time and money collaborating with external partners with different goals, processes and priorities.
So how effective is co-marketing – and how can businesses learn to tackle the complications and make the best of it? We’ve got some advice to get you on the right track.
Is co-marketing actually effective?
If businesses choose their marketing partners carefully and navigate the complications, co-marketing strategies can be very effective. Some of the main benefits include:
- Greater presence online
- More backlinks
- Better SEO impact
- Ability to reach your partner’s audience
Today, marketing is a combination of thought leadership, lead generation, measurable SEO, analytics and much more. Partnering up with like minded companies is a great way to combine to get better results from your marketing strategy.
So, how do you go about developing valuable co-marketing strategies that will enable you to reap the benefits of such a relationship?
Let’s look at how to improve your co-marketing in seven simple but powerful steps.
Perfect your co-marketing strategies in 7 steps
- Make the most of events to connect with potential partners
- Decide if the partnership makes sense
- Define roles and expectations
- Develop an appropriate co-marketing idea with your partner
- Know your audience
- Run local targeted events
- Guest blogging and shared production costs
1. Make the most of events to connect with potential partners
The first step to creating an effective co-marketing strategy is to get yourself out there and connect with like-minded businesses. The obvious way to do this is to get on social media sites like LinkedIn and connect with people across your industry or sector. While there’s certainly some benefit here, there’s nothing quite like networking in person to work out if you and your potential partners really click.
Luckily for Microsoft Partners, there’s plenty of conferences and networking events throughout the year to facilitate this kind of networking. The main calendar date for Microsoft partners is the annual Inspire conference, but there are a range of other smaller conferences and meetings running throughout the year. These are a prime opportunity for partners to learn about the upcoming Microsoft roadmap, as well as building connections with similar businesses.
2. Decide if the partnership makes sense
Choosing the right partner for your business is perhaps the most sensitive part of the whole process. If this goes well, the other parts of your plan could slot seamlessly into place. If not, you’ll risk wasting time and money on a project that won’t get off the ground. So before you decide to go ahead with a co-marketing strategy, there’s some important questions you should ask yourself.
The first and most obvious barrier is whether you get on with people in the other business enough to be able to effectively create content. That doesn’t mean being best friends, but it requires a certain rapport, as well as shared values and ideas that can ease the friction between two companies.
You should also consider what the other company brings to the table from a more practical viewpoint. Is their reputation strong enough that your business will benefit from the association? Can they bring skills and expertise to the table that you will benefit from – or are they offering resources you already have in-house?
After that you should consider whether the resultant content would benefit from collaboration with your potential. Do they have a similar enough audience that a combined effort would make sense? Would a collaborative marketing effort actually create more tangible leads for your business than your normal efforts?
If your answer to all of these is positive, then there’s a good chance your co-marketing venture will be a success.
3. Define roles and expectations
Once you’ve found a company to partner up with, you need to define clear roles and expectations for what you aim to achieve.
This involves discussing timeframes, costs and responsibilities. It’s important to clearly define early on who’s responsible for what aspects of the project, to reduce any risk of complication further down the line. The last thing you want to have to do is have an argument halfway through the project about who was supposed to complete a particular task, or contribute certain funds.
It’s also a good idea at this point to clearly define what the project is intended to achieve for both parties. All collaborations require a little give and take – and both sides should be fully aware of the other’s objectives when they’re working on the project.
4. Develop an appropriate co-marketing idea with your partner
Once you’ve defined your goals, roles and expectations, it’s time to flesh out the plan in more detail and create a more tangible content strategy. At this point, you should consider the shared objectives and choose the type of marketing that best suits the compromise. This could include any of the following:
- Blog posts
- Co-sponsored whitepapers
- Research projects
Each of these different types of content will achieve a slightly different thing, and it’s important to tailor the content to the combination of skills and objectives between the two partners.
5. Know your audience
Knowing yours and your partner’s audience is a key part of creating content that ticks both your boxes. Two businesses’ audiences are rarely exactly the same, and it’s important that a compromise is found.
Writing for one audience can be difficult enough without having to negotiate the requirements of another entirely – so it’s important that you think carefully about how the two fit together. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to create and share marketing personas.
A persona creates a fictional character that’s the personification of your average potential lead or client. It runs through their company, situation and job role, considering why they’re interested in your product and what the reasons they may or may not be convinced to purchase. If you share your personas with each other, then you can make sure your marketing material is properly aimed towards both characters.
6. Run local targeted events
With two companies, you have twice the resources. That means twice as much money you can put into pushing your content out there and twice the number of clients and partners that would be interested in it. In short, with co-marketing projects, there’s more scope for you to generate some noise and excitement about the project.
Depending on the size of the task, it could be a good idea to organize an event or launch to get people together and promote your work. That could involve bringing together speakers from around the country or even internationally and inviting your partners, clients and potential customers. This gives you the opportunity to split the planning, logistics and cost of the event with your partner and stir some real interest amongst people within your respective networks.
7. Guest blogging and sharing production costs
Guest blogging refers to when a blog writer develops content for a blog that is not their own. This can expose your brand to a different audience, increase your traffic to both parties’ blogs, boost your brand’s authority, build relationships in the field, and provide your own blog with fresh content from guest bloggers.
The other value of this is it allows you to generate backlinks, which provide valuable SEO benefits for both sides. If you and your partner agree to guest blog on each other’s websites, you both get a free backlink and a free post – which sounds like a pretty good deal for both parties.
Going in the right direction with co-marketing
In the current, competitive business landscape, taking advantage of partnerships across a range of business functions can help your organisation reach important new heights and milestones. And partner co-marketing is a great way of boosting your resources in a way that delivers excellent value. So, whatever the nature of your business, make sure you take maximum advantage of the potential and opportunities available from other businesses across your networks.