For a low-risk, high-impact approach, a co-marketing strategy should be something that more businesses need to start adopting. The benefits of co-marketing, not to be confused with co-branding, are something we are likely to see a lot more of moving forward as organisations look to effectively handle their marketing during crisis periods, as has been the case for the entirety of 2020.

So what do you mean by co-marketing? It is when two companies collaborate on a joined promotional effort which relates to a co-branded offer. Within this co-marketing strategy, both companies will actively promote a piece of content or product, of which the results will be shared between both parties. This allows both companies to benefit from the other’s audience reach to deliver higher leads and increase awareness, all in a more efficient way.

The benefits of co-marketing allow companies to combine their resources, skills, and reach to form innovative campaigns that can tap into a much wider audience than they could achieve on their own. For examples of co-marketing, they can be anything you want. Previous campaigns have taken the form of a blog post or a shared piece of research to an Instagram Story takeover all the way to handling a webinar, or physical events, something that’s a little tricker given the current climate. Basically, what you can do is only limited by the scope of your imagination.

Co-Marketing Vs Co-Branding

While different, these concepts are easily confused. Co-branding refers to a partnership in which two companies combine their products or expertise to create an even more valuable product, whereas co-marketing takes things one step further.

A co-marketing strategy provides teams with an opportunity to work together to promote a shared offer, such as the aforementioned co-branded product, or shared pieces of content. In a co-marketing partnership, both companies promote that offer, and share the results of said promotion equally.

The Benefits of Co-Marketing

A successful co-marketing campaign has to be beneficial to both parties. In regards to this, co-marketing offers bigger companies the opportunity to solidify their industry standing and promote their cultivated brand identity, while for smaller companies, it’s an easy, effective and efficient boost in publicity to an audience who may have been previously unaware of them.

This approach gives companies the chance to take chances on content, pushing it in different directions helps you fill any gaps you have relating to your own skills or resources. In this instance another brand’s strength may be your weakness and vice versa, meaning co-marketing is a great opportunity.

This is great to target audiences who may be adjacent to your own. Working with these businesses to create a marketing campaign that will be promoted to both audiences helps expose both companies to audiences with proven interest and purchasing in a cost-effective manner.

Nowadays, with such a congested online marketplace, it’s increasingly hard to stand out from the crowd. This leads to companies spending more on ads to try to generate conversions. This is why co-marketing is a preferable option. It represents a safer, yet effective method of competing, as you’re pretty guaranteed to reach a larger audience and, more importantly, one that is likely to be specifically interested in your company, rather than just the general public.

How Do You Pick Your Co-Marketing Partner?

Finding the right brand to collaborate with is linked to the success of your co-marketing campaign. Typically, the brand should be in the same or a similar industry to you, but not be one of your direct competitors. In fact, you’ve probably already got some brands in mind that you’d like to work with even if you haven’t been actively considering co-marketing.

Before approaching them, ask yourself these key questions:

  • Do you have a shared target audience?
  • Will your goals be connected?
  • How much effort are you expecting from them in regards to the whole campaign?
  • Does the end result outweigh the effort you’ll put into it and how are you measuring it?
  • What expertise can they offer that you don’t have?
  • Do they have a trusted industry reputation?
  • Are they already established in their respective field?
  • Will they be easy to work with?

Before you go straight in with a campaign proposal, it’s a good idea to build a rapport with the team you are looking to partner with. You should be looking to establish clear lines of communication early and to recognise if this a partnership that is likely to last the campaign. It’s better to realise too soon that it’s not a match rather than too late.

Set clear dates for when the campaign will run and the deadlines different elements need to be completed by. If several people from different departments are set to work on the campaign, tools like Trello are far more preferable than long, convoluted email chains. You’ll also want to make sure everyone has access to the files they need, so setting up a relevant Dropbox folder is a must. Most importantly keep in constant communication throughout the campaign to ensure positive results and update one another on any relevant or unexpected changes.

Examples of Effective Co-Marketing

When it comes to co-marketing examples, it’s important to do your research to see which campaigns can provide inspiration for your own. Even if it’s not in the same sector or industry, it can still spark ideas you can use down the line. Here are some co-marketing examples that benefitted both parties:

Pepsi and Bungie: For over a decade now, Pepsi have leveraged their new Mountain Dew Game Fuel drink to help co-promote the release of new video games. This is a suitable brand tie-in, as Mountain Dew is already synonymous with video games and gamers themselves so combining the two is a no-brainer. Like Red Bull and eSports. Game Fuel flavors have tied in to releases like Bungie’s Halo 3 and this strategy has been scaled to include other gaming companies to promote new releases seamlessly. The company even created a second flavor to partner the popular online game World of Warcraft as the combination of energy drink and gaming is one that many have since replicated.

Bumble and HBO: Trying to separate themselves from other dating apps, Bumble looked to prioritise connections with their co=marketing campaign. For the ‘Stay Home to the Movies’ campaign, Bumble matched with HBO to host a number of movie screenings in New York. They invited couples and friends to come and watch a selection of films, complete with popcorn and cocktails that allowed both brands to show off what makes them different to the competition. Encouraging real-life connections and promoting in-person experiences is a great way for Bumble and HBO to highlight their USP to already interested parties.

Final Thoughts

There are so many ways you benefit mutually from a well conceived co-marketing strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of campaigns and partners, look to be innovative, creative and unique amongst a sea of similarity. This will help you determine what works best among your audience and is therefore most beneficial to your company. Co-marketing offers many benefits for companies of all sizes across all industries, from startups to Fortune 500s, which is why more and more organizations are looking to embrace this approach as we move into the new year.

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