Branding

Everything You Need to Know about Creating Co-marketing Campaigns that Work

Jimmy Rodriguez
Jimmy Rodriguez
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If you run a business, you know that an excellent product or service won’t sell if the marketing campaign for it is ineffective. Effective marketing is the pipeline that helps you reach your audience – those willing and able to buy your products or services. Effective marketing generates sales and helps you build a community of fans around your brand. 

This guide will cover everything you ought to know about co-marketing. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear definition of co-marketing and understand how to run co-marketing campaigns that help you secure leads, generate more revenue for your business, and build your brand. With that in mind, let’s jump right into this guide.

What is Co-Marketing?

Co-marketing is when two or more companies collaborate to create content, usually across multiple channels, or run a marketing campaign. Companies will work together to devise a campaign and create the relevant marketing material. Through collaboration, the companies involved in a co-marketing campaign hope to reach a larger audience than they could independently. 

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This principle is sometimes referred to as an “affinity partnership”. One example of a co-marketing campaign is the collaboration between Uber and Spotify in 2014. Spotify Premium users created special playlists for their commute, which would play automatically as soon as their Uber trip starts. Uber users were able to control their music right from the Uber app without having to open Spotify. 

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Co-marketing differs from co-branding in that the latter involves the participating brands putting their creative energies behind a completely new product. The former is a collaborative effort between two distinct brands promoting different products.

In the example above, neither Uber nor Spotify had to create an entirely new product. All they had to do was accommodate each other’s existing products in such a way that would be attractive to both of their respective customers.

What Are the Benefits of Co-Marketing?

Co-marketing has become one of the most effective promotional channels today, especially for e-commerce brands. It has allowed brands to promote their products to new, different markets and expand their reach. 

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Here are a few reasons brands engage in co-marketing campaigns:

  • Creating customer delight through co-branded promotions and giveaways
  • Fostering and establishing the relationships between crowd-favorite brands, as each develops goodwill across a new audience
  • Reaping the financial rewards of a newfound set of potential customers
  • Saving costs by pulling the respective resources of all parties involved
  • Helping build brand awareness online in new, untapped markets

Co-marketing is about sharing audiences and resources to create campaigns that none of the involved brands could execute alone. Whether you’re looking to increase your brand’s popularity on social media, grow your blog following, or just attract a larger audience, co-marketing can help tremendously.

Identifying the Right Partner

The most crucial aspect of executing a co-marketing campaign to perfection is finding the right partner brands. Several factors come into play in deciding whether another brand would be a good fit for the promotion you’re trying to run.

At the risk of sounding like a scene from one of the mafia movies, you must always have a firm idea of what all parties stand to gain from the partnership. Ideally, a co-marketing campaign should benefit you, your partner brand, and the end customer.

Any co-marketing pitch should highlight what both parties can get from it; otherwise it would be a tough sell. You must show the proposed partner that they will reap just as many rewards as you do – and make sure that statement rings true in reality.

This give-and-take might include:

  • Sharing email subscriber lists and qualified leads generated by previous campaigns
  • Benefitting from the other brand’s reputation
  • Reciprocating guest appearances/content in social media platforms, blogs, and YouTube channels
  • Showcasing partner brands across audiences

One recent example of a highly successful co-marketing campaign is the McDonald’s BTS Meal, a collaboration between one of the world’s largest fast-food brands and arguably the biggest boy group in history. 

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At face value, the BTS Meal is little more than McNuggets, fries, and Coke. However, the collectible packaging features the group’s signature purple color and logo, and it comes with not one but two special sauces inspired by the band. The sweet chili and cajun sauce have been popular in Korea for some years now and are reportedly the group’s favorite. 

While McDonald’s and BTS each have their fanbases, the BTS Meal has caused the sales of McNuggets to jump 250% in Korea and 1000% in other markets. The packaging has seen wide circulation in online marketplaces, with some complete sets selling for roughly $100 each.

What can you learn from the BTS Meal? First, you need to choose partners who are already familiar with your brand, so it’s easier for them to fit your products into your narrative. Second, your partners’ products should be good. I never thought I’d like the Cajun sauce, but I’ve got to hand it to the band for bringing the sauce to my location.

Here’s a word of caution, though: If you’re looking to partner with another brand just because they’ve been trending lately, you’re not doing it right. Trendjacking can expose you to new audiences quickly, but the gains are rarely sustainable. Instead, look for partners that have a consistent social media and online presence to ensure that the effects of your co-marketing last longer.

How Can You Ensure a Smooth Campaign?

Ensuring a smooth co-marketing campaign usually involves you carrying out proper research on prospective partners to find out if their brand persona and product/service offerings fit in perfectly with yours. Whenever possible, try to rely on existing partnerships – provided that your values still align and your previous experience with them is positive. If the partner brand meets both criteria, you can work together on a new campaign.

Otherwise, there are hundreds to thousands of open co-marketing opportunities available to you at any given time. However, making those opportunities happen boils down to good old networking. Always be on the lookout for the following tips when searching for partner brands:

  • Ideally, they must not be a competitor.
  • Their brand persona and audience perception should match yours in some way.
  • They should have a considerable audience on social media, email lists, or other channels that can  support automated campaigns at scale.
  • They are a company that is similar in size to yours. This ensures that there are no uneven expectations where one partner imposes their size on the other.

Running a co-marketing campaign requires that all the brands involved know what they’re getting into, agree on a common approach, and have a common set of expectations. If you feel that your co-marketing campaign doesn’t fit one or more of the three requirements, it might be wise to reconsider the partnership. Otherwise, you may start engaging the other brand and the audience you gain from the collaboration. 

In Conclusion

Partnerships of all kinds are being struck every day in the corporate world. Co-marketing campaigns are one such partnership. Co-marketing allows brands to combine their resources to produce marketing clout that they otherwise cannot afford independently. A co-marketing campaign also helps you win over new audiences, whether you do it through products or just a simple sharing of contact lists.  

To ensure the effectiveness of your co-marketing campaigns, you need to choose collaborating brands that have a good social media following, a similar company or audience size, and similar values. 

Collaborating with the right partner brand will expand your horizons and allow your message to reach markets that you’ve been unable to reach before.

Jimmy Rodriguez

Jimmy Rodriguez

Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade e-commerce solution. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.