There is a form of promotion that sits right in the middle between user-generated content and organic content: brand partnerships. This is a collaboration between your brand or business and another business to meet certain goals that benefit you both.
As your brand grows, you’ll be able to take opportunities to create your own brand partnerships in which you and your brand partner can brainstorm ideas to create a shared product, promote complementary services, or boost a jointly-created product/service together. Whatever the combination, the goal of a successful brand partnership is to benefit both parties involved with increased brand awareness and audience engagement and even an increased number of customers.
Let’s talk about how you can add a brand partnership to your marketing strategy that is successful and doesn’t rely on influencers.
Why brand partnerships and collaborations are helpful
A brand partnership isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, work, and some mutual risk-taking. It makes sense that you’d want to ask if it’s really worth it. And the answer can depend on you and your business! We can tell you that the right collaboration at the right time can be helpful.
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As the founder and CEO of WallStreetZen, Nate Tsang, points out, a good brand partnership gives customers/followers the ability to increase their expectations with less worry of being let down.
“If people can see how the two brands function better in tandem, they’ll go in with those higher expectations,” Tsang said. “It’s up to the brands to ensure they can provide that increased value without over-promising and under-delivering.”
A well paired brand partnership can offer benefits that include:
- Increased exposure: With a good brand partnership, you and your partner stand to both gain from each other’s followings. Your partner will be promoted to your followings and vice versa providing you with a much wider audience that you may not have encountered otherwise.
- Long-term benefits: When you work with another brand on a partnership that goes well, you are setting the groundwork for a long-lasting relationship. That means there will be opportunities for additional collaborations in the future that are based on previous success and trust.
- More than social media: Partnerships or collaborations aren’t just something that happens on social media. These partnerships should be multifaceted, involving the joint creation of branded content across platforms, the creation of unique products and/or services, and more.
- Shared costs: In examples when you are creating unique products or buying ad space, you and your brand partner can share the overall cost of your endeavors. This makes it easier to do more and easier to stay within your budget.
- Service swaps: As explained by Yessie of the Oxford Comma Collective, this involves “an even exchange of products or services between business owners that leads to a mutual and beneficial relationship.” This is perfect for anyone without the means or budget to move your brand forward. Make sure you are working with an equal partner when doing a service swap so you can both benefit from the ongoing partnership.
Brand partnerships versus affiliate partnerships
Brand partnerships and collaborations are nearly synonymous terms. While affiliations may be considered a “subcategory” of brand partnerships, they are a little bit different.
While partnerships are a more collaborative type of situation, an affiliation is more akin to a business “connection.” Often, affiliations come about in a cost-per-action type of connection, such as paying someone to help bring in conversions. But affiliations can also relate to any business or individual that is attached with another one.
For an example of an affiliation, you need look no further than the affiliations found between RM Creative Services and both Convert Kit and Agorapulse. Our team uses Convert Kit for email marketing and we use Agorapulse for social media marketing. Our use of these tools speaks to their effectiveness and usefulness and those benefits, of course, benefit our clientele.
What defines a good partnership?
If you are here, you likely want to try creating a brand partnership for yourself. But you also want to make sure it is done right. What should you look for? Factors that define a good brand partnership for a small business or a big one can include:
- Innovative: Innovative creations will help to increase buyer interest and the chances of consumers buying the products or investing in services offered.
- Problem solving: The products or services being offered should be looking to solve a problem that your joint audience has.
- Quality: It should go without saying but you want to create some that offers good quality products or services to your buyers.
Influencer marketing changed brand partnerships
They’re on Twitter talking about their favorite clothing brand. They’re on Instagram in a photo promoting the clothes they are wearing while sitting in a high-priced muscle car. They’re checking in on Facebook at the newest hotel that has an all new design to it. They’re influencers.
Sometimes influencers get a bad rap but the truth is that they changed the game when it comes to brand partnerships and marketing. Influencer marketing started back around 2010 and became even more heavily used as social media marketing grew. Taking on a similar role as the spokesperson in an ad, an influencer gives a human face to the products or services they are promoting. But it doesn’t stop there.
Influencers have built more personalized relationships with their followers, building up a level of trust with them. By using certain products or services in their content, an influencer promotes both the product and the lifestyle that said product is a part of. This feels less in-your-face and the brands partnering with these individuals benefit from the relationships they have with those followers–up to 63% of consumers between the ages of 18-34 are more likely to trust influencers over brands.
People relate to people, especially ones that share their interests. Working with an honest influencer who knows what they are doing can actually be a large boom for many small businesses, and will cost less than digital ad space.
One of the services we provided to Woodland Shrine, a grassroots jewelry and oddities maker, was brand partnership outreach which included partnering with influencers. This led to an increase in their follower count by 350, an added 18,000 more content interactions, and orders increasing by more than 3x what came in the prior month!
Promoting your brand without paying an influencer
The way people look at brand partnerships changed with the growth of influencer marketing but this doesn’t mean that you have to work with an influencer. Not every small business has the budget (or desire) to work with an influencer. If that’s you, then we are happy to let you know that working with an influencer is far from your only option for a beneficial collaboration.
Guests on blogs/podcasts/newsletters
Working with another brand to create guest blogs or other guest content is one great way to share the knowledge. You can provide a blog to another website or you can have someone from another brand contribute to your site. In either case, this is an effective way to reach additional people and show that you are another thought leader that they may want to follow or work with.
One example of this is when we worked with Elizabeth Rowan to create a killer blog (“Small Shifts, Big Dreams”) for our Leadership Amplified series on Linkedin. We created a blog about working towards building your dream business while feeling fulfilled and included a Q&A from Elizabeth as our bonus content. This both promoted Elizabeth’s expertise as a business leader and brought our name to her page for her followers to see.
Partnering on the creation of a new product together
Creating a joint product may be the type of partnership that most people are familiar with. This is a mug with a design on it that both parties created together. Or it may be a shirt maker who works with a different design partner to create a new line of shirts each season. This gets both of your names out there, can increase customer engagement and can even help to support a cause that everyone involved supports.
Collaborating on a joint product and service together
This follows in the same spirit of the previous option but, rather than creating a product or line or products together, you and your partner will pair a product and service together to give your audience a unique experience. For example, providing hair styling services that use certain hair styling products. This is another smart way to increase your customer base and brand awareness.
Organizing an event together
Another option that you have is to work with a partner or partners to create a joint event together that promotes what you do or make. One example of this may be hosting a leadership event that includes photoshoot opportunities, an engaging speaker that will address something that all of your guests will be interested in and perhaps provides discounts for additional services. This promotes everyone involved and gives the participating service providers a chance to add to their customer base.
Building brand partnerships takes time and experience and that is exactly what we have. When you want to give your brand or business a boost with a brand partnership, we can make sure that each step is done right and you have a long-lasting relationship to move forward with.
Let’s work together to create a successful brand partnership that will help your business thrive. Reach out to us by emailing email@example.com or visiting our Contact page.