Wheels Up, the 5,000-member private jet firm, just announced its plan to woo leading luxury brands into teaming up. The appeal: Other brands could save millions on marketing costs and still gain exposure with qualified clientele. For Wheels Up, brand partnerships are intended to reciprocally enrich the membership experience. Everyone wins.
Now, you may or may not seek to impact an affluent audience like Wheels Up, so that particular partnership might not entice you. Chances are that your business wasn’t created to cater solely to the wealthy. However, marketing partnerships offer benefits to companies of any size or with any type of target audience, and strategic partnerships can enhance your brand’s reach at a fraction of the usual cost.
Critical to that strategy is choosing the right marketing partner and type of engagement. Perhaps you want to reach more of the same type of audience members or grow into a new market. Maybe you have some amount of brand awareness, but you’re trying to accumulate more clout with your followers.
Think about your goals and the partners who have the most potential to help you realize them. Then, consider the various advantages to each of these types of partnerships:
1. Affiliate marketing boosts brand exposure.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most commonly sought types of partnerships. Its benefits are easily measurable, and the costs of the partnership are closely tied to those benefits — you get out of it what you put in. An affiliate partnership is a performance-based model in which each partner benefits from driving a desired action.
Platforms such as Pepperjam provide an easy way for brands to increase exposure by maintaining several different affiliate partnerships at once. For example, Puma used the platform to partner with online shopping guide Dealmoon for a 2017 holiday sales event, and Dealmoon was able to offer subscribers early access to the sale. It generated more than 40 percent of Puma’s revenue for that sale.
Maura Smith, SVP of Pepperjam, describes performance channels as a “pay-for-outcome alternative” to solo digital marketing strategies. “When you rely on traditional (read: expensive) paid channels for your digital strategy,” Smith says, “you will inevitably see less than half of every marketing dollar invested becoming working media.”
2. Cause marketing solidifies brand purpose.
Companies of all sizes can boost their exposure with affiliate marketing, but sometimes, partnering up is more about humanizing your brand’s message than furthering its reach. Cause marketing gives companies and nonprofit organizations an avenue to spread awareness and build popularity for meaningful causes. Both nonprofits and companies benefit in this arrangement.
For instance, Walgreens partners with nonprofit Comic Relief Inc. for its Red Nose Day fundraising campaign. Walgreens has helped the organization raise more than $71 million over the past four years to combat child poverty. Customers have purchased millions of red noses at Walgreens stores to take pictures and attended other Red Nose Day fundraising events.
In addition to raising funds for the Red Nose Day charity campaign, the partnership substantially boosts Walgreens’ image in consumers’ eyes. Studies show that customers prefer to buy from brands that support worthy causes; a global survey showed 91 percent of respondents said it’s a determining factor. Right now, only 23 percent of brands are considered meaningful in any way, according to consumer responses to Havas’ Meaningful Brands 2019 report. Purposeful companies have been seen to grow twice as fast, so the potential payoff is high for cause marketing.
3. Co-branding boosts brand equity.
Co-branding involves collaborating with one or more like-minded brands to create an entirely new product or service. It’s how Taco Bell and Doritos created the Doritos Locos Taco and how Nike and Apple created the Nike+ line of smart athletic gear. It also includes smaller-scale joint offerings, like webinars and whitepapers.
The co-branding alliance involves intense strategic collaboration. For smaller brands, it can help both partners break into markets they’ve been struggling to enter. For example, a co-branding partnership with Blue Apron helped celebrity cook Ayesha Curry expand her brand past the Food Network and into the meal kit market in 2017. Blue Apron, meanwhile, benefited from increased recognition from Curry’s bevy of fans.
Because co-branding requires a deeper commitment and investment than most other marketing partnerships, it’s especially important to choose partners strategically. For Curry, partnering with Blue Apron was highly advantageous; one study predicts the meal kit market in the U.S. alone will grow by double digits through 2022.
Marketing partnerships are one of the most effective ways to scale your brand’s reach, whether you’re marketing a private jet service or healthy meal kits. However, you shouldn’t invest in any partnership without thoroughly strategizing first. Determine your ultimate brand goal for the partnership, and engage with a partner who agrees on how best to achieve that goal.