Channel Marketer Report


Creating And Sustaining Valuable Partnerships


Business partnerships are not easy but enterprises that invest in strategic, mutually beneficial alliances can achieve greater objectives than they would normally be capable of individually, according to a webinar titled: Better Together: The True Value of Marketing Partnerships.

The event, hosted by BrightTALK, offered marketers a variety of tips regarding how organizations can identify and connect with potential partners. During the presentation, Katrina McEwan, Senior Marketing Associate of Partnership and Content Marketing at BrightTALK, also highlighted several case studies of successful marketing alliances that have been mutually beneficial to both parties.

Before delving into the case studies, McEwan shared five ways retailers can assess, engage and establish long-term partnerships: 

  • Research: During this phase, organizations should establish their goals. If they want to be seen among new audiences, for instance, then they shouldn’t partner with an enterprise that can only re-engage them with existing customer demographics, McEwan stated. Before initiating contact, organizations should know what they want from the partnership and what they can offer in return.
  • Contact: To build dialogue and establish relationships with potential business partners, companies must be clear and express value. If possible, they should meet face-to-face. If not, they should send an email or contact a key executive through LinkedIn, keeping messages as concise as possible. They should state what they’re looking for and what they will provide in return. However, if the response is lukewarm, executives shouldn’t push future conversations. Both parties must be committed to form a healthy partnership.
  • Collaborate: If the interest is reciprocal, companies then can arrange a call to learn about the potential partner’s specific challenges and goals.
  • Execute: Set up a trial period and schedule a review session. Carry out all mutually agreed goals and objectives.
  • Evaluate: Refer back the metrics that were determined from the beginning. If things aren’t working, say so. Explore new partnership opportunities that might be more lucrative, but if things are ultimately not working out, part on good terms. Not only is it common courtesy, but there could also be future potentials for collaborations in the future.

Once a partnership is established, there also are some important guidelines to remember on what to do and what to avoid, McEwan explained. 

  • Discover What’s Important: Companies should consider the kinds of campaigns that would best help them achieve key goals. For example, partners can email swap or create joint videos. By identifying the best campaign tactics, organizations can prioritize them in all partner conversations.  
  • Focus: McEwan advises that organizations stay true to their own goals and not accept everything a partner proposes since it can “distract you from targeting assets.”
  • Keep Your Word: Deliver on promises and agreements. A partnership that isn’t based on mutual trust is pointless, according to McEwan.
  • Track It: Track all metrics that were developed in the research stage. How do you expect your partnership to progress and what do you want to achieve? Monitor the outcome of all campaigns. This will help organizations understand which relationships they should prioritize and which they may need to revisit.
  • Be In It For The Long Haul: Valuable marketing partnerships are not formed overnight, McEwan said. It takes time to develop trust. If there’s no commitment, there’s no partnership.

Intel And Walt Disney Company Create Winning Partnerships
Many marketing partnerships are established to help improve brand perception and recognition. Throughout history, companies have worked together on campaigns to drive interest and reach that would otherwise not be possible.

“These types of partnerships are most beneficial to businesses starting out or trying to break into an untapped market,” according to McEwan.

 For example, computer chip manufacturer Intel launched the Intel Inside program in 1991. Intel co-branded itself with a number of PC manufacturers that included computer vendors such as HP and Acer. Every computer that carried an Intel processor chip came with a stamp that indicated so. As a result, Intel broke out of the B2B bubble to become a brand that also was recognized among end consumers, McEwan reported.

The Walt Disney Company took a similar approach in 2011, McEwan continued. The entertainment corporation was struggling to get consumers to visit the web site. Instead, most followers were watching Disney videos on YouTube. At the same, YouTube was having a branding issue due to some controversial content that was being published on the site.

The two companies partnered together to create a series of shorts to promote the puzzle game Where My Water? The collaboration drove five million viewers over the course of three months. As a result, YouTube improved its image with parents and children, while Disney made footholds into YouTube and drove traffic back to its homepage.

Ongoing Communication Helps Build Trust And Loyalty
However, even the best partnerships require work to maintain. Small enterprises must be especially vigilant at keeping the communication honest and frequent.

“In smaller organizations, priorities change very quickly,” McEwan said. “You might be focused on creating a piece of content with someone only to shift gears to engaging an audience.”

 Also, if your corporate officers aren’t invested in the partnership, it cannot work, McEwan added. “Senior management must by into these partnerships. Unless they allow you to put time into the partnership, they won’t see the point, and they’ll be the ones providing the budget for things like email swaps, joint videos and so on.” 

Long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships are not always a guarantee, but with a clearly defined strategy, a commitment to fulfilling agreements and a common set of business goals, marketers can draft joint campaigns that will drive ROI for all parties.



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