Gone are the days when the only competition your brand had to worry about was the guys next door. Over the years, digital transformation and cloud computing have created a borderless world. So, whether it’s the business down to the road or the brand across the globe, organizations everywhere are now competing for the same clients.

Reaching the right audience, with the right message, has become more important (and more difficult) than ever – and developing marketing solutions to adapt to and succeed in this new world require time, money and resources. This is exactly why forward-thinking strategies such as co-marketing have grown in popularity and importance. For example, one study showed spending on co-marketing among UK businesses grew over 15% in 2017, generating 9.2% sales growth, year over year.

What is co-marketing?

The principle of co-marketing is a simple yet effective – and highly efficient – one: your brand partners with another brand, who shares the cost of specific marketing activities in exchange for their products or services being promoted alongside your own. It’s a low-risk, high-impact marketing strategy that gives your brand the opportunity to create campaigns at a reduced cost to you, while also gaining access to the clients and reputation of your partner’s brand. And, if you choose to partner with a business that is widely known and respected, the value of that brand’s equity can quickly add to the value of the funding you receive. It becomes a win-win-win situation.

As an IBM technology partner, Retina has successfully launched over 25 high-impact co-marketing campaigns, so we really can vouch for the profound and far-reaching benefits of this innovative marketing strategy.

Winning over new customers

Whether your partner brand is an independent business making waves on social media or a globally-renowned conglomerate, their clients effectively become part of your audience when you launch a co-marketing campaign. Ensuring your brands are a good fit, with services and product offers that have a logical crossover, is vital because it gives you the opportunity to tap into a customer pool that is already aligned to your offering.

A great example of co-marketing and the impact it can have on new audience reach, is the partnership between Flipboard and Airbnb. Their co-created campaign not only resulted in a sharp rise in traffic to Flipboard – 4.2 million page flips from 440,000 viewers – but it also raised the Airbnb follower count from zero to 29,000. That’s 29,000 new potential customers engaging with the brand on a platform that they had previously been unknown on.

Winning the conversation

Brand affiliation may get you in the same room as your new customer base, but there will still be a lot of other brands in that room, trying just as hard as you to speak to them. There are a number of ways to go about getting their attention – be the loudest, have a mutual acquaintance to introduce you, or offer the most engaging conversation – and co-marketing can help you do all three.

Let’s start with the most obvious: being the loudest. Typically, spending more on your marketing activities buys you more frequent postings and prime media placements. With the joint funding available through co-marketing, brands are able to offset some of these costs, making it more feasible to expand the scope, frequency and quality of their marketing activities or, if needs be, focus their resources on other parts of the business.

The second option, have a mutual acquaintance introduce you, has already been highlighted in terms of using co-marketing as a means of gaining access to new customers. When you partner with another brand, they become the mutual friend at the party, introducing you to new people who they think you might get along with. It’s a strategic means of expanding your reach and generating high-quality, qualified leads.

Last but not least, there’s the chance to offer the most engaging conversation. This takes planning and expertise to execute, and it’s heavily reliant on having strong content and messaging. According to a study by Constellation Research, companies who improve engagement can increase cross-sell revenue by 22%, up-sell revenue by 38%, and order size by 5-85%. Co-marketing is a powerful tool to achieve this in a number of ways.

A winning reputation

Thought leadership is also a highly important part of the buyer journey. It establishes your brand as an authority in your sector, encouraging people to seek out your expertise over others. In a recent survey of 3,275 global business decision-makers, 83% responded that thought leadership increased their trust in an organisation, and 88% use thought leadership to build a shortlist of potential vendors. In other words, establishing your brand as a thought leader can have a direct impact on your sales.

By partnering with brands that have already built a strong reputation and audience, you can use your affiliation with them to elevate your own thought-leadership status.

A winning partnership

In this new, borderless world, the lines that used to differentiate brands from one another have become increasingly blurred. Co-marketing uses this to its advantage, allowing organizations everywhere to lean on one another’s reputation, market position, reach and marketing channels to benefit everyone, especially the customer.

Jessica Everson

Senior Copywriter, Retina

Jessica is a senior copywriter in the creative and content team at Retina. Her ability to craft compelling stories, backed by strong strategic insights, has seen her win numerous awards over her decade-long career, including Cannes Lion finalists, One Show Merit Certificates and a Wood Pencil at D&AD. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for creative problem solving, she has helped clients from all sectors and industries develop impactful and engaging campaigns, including Coca-Cola, Toyota, South African Tourism and Nando’s.

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