One of the least-used methods for obtaining rich, new B2B leads is also one of the most effective. Co-marketing combines the products and services you provide with those of complementary companies, attracting new clients and forging relationships that last. Maximizing your efforts will take a clear goal, a mutually beneficial marketing plan, and a keen eye for finding the right partners. But once these campaigns are in effect, they go a long way toward expanding your business.
When Co-Marketing is Right for Your Business
Sourcing new clients is an ongoing goal for many businesses, as is raising profits. How co-marketing best fuels those efforts often depends on where your company is in the stages of development. Size, purpose, and market also help determine which partnerships will be most beneficial. Here are two instances when co-marketing provides an essential push for your business:
- Introducing Your Business to a New Market – Whether you’ve changed physical location and need to make new B2B contacts or you’re breaking into a new market, it’s important to have friends in the right places. GE took advantage of this when creating jet engines. Its long-standing relationship with Boeing increased demand for the aircraft manufacturer’s products while more GE units were produced.
- Important Product Releases – Celebrate and spread the word by combining a product release with co-marketing campaigns. The companies can work together to develop a robust advertising campaign neither could afford on their own, or each partner can shoulder the responsibilities its operations are best suited to handle. For instance, for the release of Toy Story 3, Disney worked with both Dolby Laboratories and RealD, promoting new technologies to theaters alongside the highly anticipated film.
While co-marketing is especially helpful in these circumstances, it can also be beneficial for your business at any point. It’s important, however, to pick the right kind of programs to support your goals. The process begins by pinpointing what you need to accomplish above and beyond “making more money.”
Partners do not have to share the same goals, and they rarely do even in the most successful campaigns. For instance, Boeing aircraft were in demand before Boeing invested in GE components. However, adding GE’s highly sought-after engines to their planes allowed Boeing to increase its popularity and customer trust in its products. GE, on the other hand, used the partnership to go from being a fringe player in aerodynamics to an industry essential.
Identifying the Right Kinds of Partnerships
Several types of co-marketing relationships exist, each depending on the scope of the campaign, goals, and available partners. Many fledgling companies approach giant corporations with ideas of how to co-market their technologies only realize that these big companies are in the buyout mindset. In order to avoid this, it helps to approach businesses in similar stages of development as yours.
- InBranding is a special type of co-marketing strategy where two or more brands depend on one another to fuel sales. Intel processors were showing promise 20 years ago when the company reached out to computer manufacturers. For many years they were the only processors used by Dell computers. Through that arrangement, Intel increased its reputation and earned enough to fund further development. Today, the company’s processors are highly competitive and an essential element for many people’s computer purchases.
- Service and product providers which complement one another often work best hand-in-hand. Careful planning is needed for each partner to receive adequate benefits, but customers and costs can easily be shared by making things faster, cheaper, and more convenient for their clientele. For instance, Free Flow Wine partnered with major food and beverage distributors to provide wine on tap to the world’s top restaurants and hotels.
- Events have also become a popular option, allowing large numbers of similar businesses to band together. They run the gamut from a travel agency creating a local farm trip to presenters coming together to host a trade convention. These type of events carry a risk of competition, however, and need to be organized carefully and provide plenty of opportunities for competitors to distinguish themselves.
Avoiding Co-Marketing Pitfalls
Unfortunately, despite careful planning and significant investments, co-marketing campaigns sometimes go awry. Learning about the most common problems will help you avoid these mistakes and make the most of all your efforts.
- Partnering with the wrong people – When you co-market, you align your business reputation with another brand or brands, and it’s important to make sure they’re worth the risk. First and foremost, they should be a logical fit from a product or service standpoint. Co-marketers should go together like peanut butter and jelly. Secondly, your core values should line up so that you avoid alienating your existing customer base and so you can take advantage of the partnerships your co-marketing pals already have. Lastly, you should avoid companies with risky reputations, as bad publicity for one of you may affect both.
- Unbalanced benefits – In every co-marketing campaign, there’s the risk of being shortchanged. Many times it comes down to poor planning or losing focus of your goals. For instance, if one of your main priorities is creating a partnership, you may ignore disparities in an agreement just to have someone to work with. The right partner will come at the right price. Dell’s exclusive agreement with Intel changed due to imbalance, as the processor giant couldn’t lower its prices enough for the computer company to turn an adequate profit.
- Ignoring perceived value – Pairing with a company more popular than you rarely has a negative outcome, except when it does. Similar goods with similar value points can successfully combine their efforts. Ford and Eddie Bauer, for instance, have a long-standing co-marketing arrangement which demonstrates how these partnerships work. Both Ford and Eddie Bauer have positive reputations focused on quality and appeal to buyers in the same earning brackets. However, if Ford was switched out with either Jaguar or Kia, both brands’ perceived value would suffer. Buyers — even those who are loyal customers of all brands involved —tend to react negatively when low- and high-quality offerings are marketed together.