5 Pointers for Driving Performance with Brand-to-Brand Partnerships

Brands have long collaborated with other brands to grow their business. A simplified definition of brand-to-brand partnerships is “a mutual agreement between a brand and one or more organizations to increase brand awareness, break into new markets, and cross-promote products/services.”

Historically, these partnership structures have fallen under the “Partner Marketing” or “Business Development” divisions within companies. For many brands, these marketing partnerships tend to be large, complex, and time-consuming to bring to fruition. They can also be difficult to scale, inefficient to manage in higher volume, and require extensive cross-departmental resources to procure, administer, and maintain. 

As such, larger partnership opportunities have been given priority by partner marketing teams and smaller, mid-sized opportunities overlooked. 

Today, even though “partners” come in all shapes and sizes and can offer significant value to brands of every size in any industry, many companies struggle with how to expand their partner program — with not only new types of high-value partners, but also more of them. 

The same approach they’ve used for years is no longer scalable or efficient given today’s market dynamics. What’s more, brands are increasingly interested in structuring their brand-to-brand marketing partnerships on a performance basis, thus paying their partners after results have been realized, not before. 

Leading brands are realizing that it is no longer sustainable to rely on the old paradigm of large, brand-to-brand collaborations. To elevate their business and up their partnerships game, brands need to expand their understanding of who a partner is, how more relationships can be managed efficiently at scale, and why performance-based compensation is the future of partner marketing. 

Here are five pointers brands need to consider when looking to grow through mutually beneficial brand partnerships.

Find the right partners 

The success of any brand partnership relies on identifying the right partners. High-performing partnerships rest on a complementary set of core values, goals, and interests. This provides a framework for operating and a way to address any issues that come up. Brand partnerships usually thrive when parties are in adjacent or complementary markets and are committed to bringing value to each other’s customers.  

Create win-win partnerships

Just as a healthy marriage requires balance, give and take, and respect, so do brand relationships. In a mutually beneficial marketing partnership, each partner has a vested interest in the other company and works together to bring about shared successes. A win-win framework, when established properly and managed strategically, can lead to impressive revenue growth for both brands.  

For example, an at-home fitness brand teamed up with an online retailer specializing in dorm supplies for college students to offer a special discount as a gift with purchase for their customers. This offer ran during the busy back-to-college season and was effective in reaching college-age women.

Leverage other teams 

Partnerships can add value to multiple marketing channels and benefit other departments. For example, using our business development example from earlier, many traditional partnership structures don’t scale. 

However, what’s making it far more efficient for brands to grow and diversify their partnerships are the technology platforms available today, solutions that are providing consolidation and scale to marketing partnerships and ensuring partners of all types are driving measurable results. 

Other teams that can support the development of new, smaller, higher-volume brand partnerships include the customer service, public relations, and social media teams. These groups regularly receive requests from micro-influencers and content creators. Instead of turning them away, they are in an ideal position to share information about the brand’s partner program.

Cultivate trust 

In a healthy partnership, open, honest, and ongoing communication cultivate trust and keep the partnership on track. This includes regular discussions around goals, expectations, and shifts in strategy. By assessing what’s going well and what needs to be done differently, both parties can take a step back, measure their success and, if needed, reset their approach. When both brands are on the same page about performance and goals, everyone can move forward together in the right direction.  

Think outside of the box

Successful performance-based brand partnerships are creative, impactful, and drive innovation and business value for both parties. When structured properly, the scope of a partner program’s potential can expand dramatically. 

When collaboration and performance are woven into marketing partnerships, brands are far better equipped to reach new audiences, achieve real results, and gain a competitive edge in their industry.  

Although these pointers aren’t an exhaustive list of what’s required to build and grow successful performance-based marketing partnerships, they are key elements that should be part your partner marketing framework. Brand-to-brand partnerships have long proven to be incredibly rich and dynamic. As partnerships continue to increase in importance to the bottom line, why not get the best performance you can from them? 

Alison Chew is Senior Director of Performance Partnerships at Acceleration Partners.

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