Just like chocolate-chip cookies and a glass of milk, some partnerships are really a perfect match. Each side brings out the best in the other and the combination shines, elevating the whole to a new level. Co-marketing with a partner can be just as satisfying as watching a movie with popcorn or throwing around a baseball when you have a mitt.
Strategically pairing up with someone to do long-term marketing initiatives or short-term campaigns can offer your credit union a number of benefits.
First, co-marketing can be incredibly cost-effective. When you find a partner that complements your capabilities, you find efficiencies that you normally don’t get on your own. Some of the best partners have expertise and resources that you do not – like a larger social media following, an in-house creative designer, or fun and popular products that are great for giveaways. Ideally, you’ll be able to offer unique strengths and resources that fill in their gaps – like your physical branch space, an active membership, or specialty accounts. An extension of this benefit is the opportunity to learn new skills or techniques from your partner as you work together.
Not only can you gain efficiency with a partner, you can also make your overall budget bigger when you’re able to split costs between the two organizations. So now you’re making your dollars work harder and you have more of them. This makes partnerships particularly great when you’re trying to make a big impact.
Another benefit is the potential to get a brand boost when you partner with someone that your target market already likes. A good example of this association effect is in sports marketing. It’s commonplace for a team or athlete to have brands that they work with: Misty Copeland and Under Armour, Peyton Manning and Nationwide, the US Women’s Soccer Team and Nike. If you were watching the Women’s Soccer Team win the World Cup this summer, you constantly saw Nike logos. If you follow Nike, you almost certainly saw inspirational soccer ads and messages floating through your feeds. This marketing boosts visibility for both sides and if good feelings are being generated for one, it easily spills over to the other.
How to do Partnership Marketing Well
1. Find a Partner With a Similar Target Market
You don’t just want a partner, you want a partner that your members will like and one that does business with people who will like you. Take a second to consider your best-fit member and what their life looks like. What are all of their different wants and needs, where do they spend their time and money, and what types of businesses would they work with throughout the day, week, or year?
A good practice when considering businesses is to make a list of organizations that your members already patronize and really like to work with. Take a look at card transactions, survey your members, ask your staff, and look for local reviews to get your brain working. The sweet spot is a business that has the same target market, but offers room for growth: not every member is already giving them their business and not every customer or client of theirs is already a credit union member.
2. Identify Your Campaign’s Needs
There are a lot of different ways you can do a joint campaign. Narrowing down your ideas can help you identify some partners that would work best for your vision. You don’t have to have all the details nailed down – you’ll want to actively work with your partner for that – but you can identify if you’d like to do a campaign based on a contest, a game, something cause-oriented, a particular social platform, an event, etc.
A contest or giveaway may get a big boost from partnering with someone who has a strong e-mail list of their own and something to add to a package of prizes. Just think about the popularity of McDonald’s and Hasbro’s annual Monopoly game, started in 1987, to get excited about making a game out of a giveaway promotion. Or, if you want to do something cause-oriented, you may need to look no further than a foundation or not-for-profit associated with a hospital or school you already work with. Maybe you’re just looking for an awareness boost. Consider how Uber partnered with Spotfiy and Pandora to make the ride even more enjoyable. By synching up their music accounts in the Uber app, passengers can listen to their own tunes while getting a ride.
Your campaign possibilities are greatly expanded when you bring in a partner, so have fun with it! Consider the types of campaign you’re interested in and that can help you narrow down the list of potential businesses that would be a good fit.
3. Find Someone who Complements You
As mentioned earlier, great partners have something to bring to the table that you do not, and vice versa. Your marketing campaign will be an easier sell to another business if the partnership has a lot of value for both sides.
Look for organizations that have different strengths and weaknesses from yours. Then, consider how you can combine your pooled resources in a way that makes a marketing campaign even stronger.
4. Set the Partnership Terms Early
A good partnership is one where expectations are clear and there’s a fair breakdown of responsibilities relative to potential gains. Early in your conversations with your partner, you want to lay down the parameters for the relationship so everyone is on the same page. You’re only going to realize all the great benefits of co-marketing if it’s a healthy working relationship.
Unfortunately, even well-thought-out plans can take a turn. Maybe you have a partner that isn’t living up to their promises or something happens that drastically impacts one of your businesses. Be open with your communication and, if necessary, dissolve the partnership if things are not going according to the plan. When you’re drafting any kind of agreement, don’t forget to identify what happens in the event things don’t work out – like who owns anything already created and how the parties will handle costs already incurred that cannot be refunded.
Partnership marketing can be very fun and very rewarding for your credit union. If you’re looking to try something new or want a way to expand your impact, think about finding another business to work with that can help you make a big splash with your next campaign. When it’s a good fit, these partnerships can easily evolve to produce new opportunities for future collaborations and help both businesses thrive.