Collaboration Over Competition: What You Need to Know About Co-Marketing
Sooner or later, every business owner asks themselves, “How do I expand my company’s reach?” Reach, in this instance, meaning the brand’s overall revenue, consumer engagement, and/or products. When facing this question, brands will often look to marketing campaigns, publicists, or digital influencers to help take things to the next level and reach new customers. And while these are all great approaches, there is one option that often gets overlooked: co-marketing. It is possible for two (or more) companies to work together on a campaign and exponentially increase their reach. This type of collaboration is especially helpful when both companies target the same demographic.
Co-marketing may seem like a hard sell because, well, technically you’re getting into bed with your competitor(s). That said, this type of campaign typically happens when two companies team up to work on a campaign, event, or product with a 50/50 approach to the workload and rewards. This approach can double the reach as well as cut your overhead costs and workload in half, which makes putting down the battlefield weapons worth it. Besides the benefits stated above, there are other positives that come from this kind of collaboration:
- Fostering Relationships: Working on any kind of campaign creates a bond between the teams involved. In collaborating with competitors, you create ties that can last for entire careers. You replace hostility with friendship, mutual respect, and more than anything else, a positive feeling regarding the partner (provided that everything works out in the end, of course).
- Value Added: The whole point of a co-marketing campaign is to beef up your team with collaborators who bring skills to the table that your team may be lacking in and vice versa. Whatever those skills may be is irrelevant, the point is that together, you can effectively create something that wouldn’t have been possible had you each tackled it alone.
- Lower Costs: Everything costs money, especially marketing, but in terms of co-marketing campaigns, it’s simple math – there are more wallets available to pay the bill.
Although the upsides to a co-marketing campaign are obvious, there are important steps to take in order to ensure you can maximize it’s potential:
- Firstly, you need to make sure in any situation both parties are benefitting from the campaign. The outcome needs to be worth it to both sides otherwise you have no leg to stand on when pitching your idea.
- Know exactly what you want in terms of reward at the end of the campaign. Also, make sure you are aware of what your collaborator is looking for so that you can ensure you approach the campaign with both outcomes in mind.
- Plan everything down to the last detail and put it all on paper. Every step needs to be thought out and having those plans, as well as goals, expectations, and responsibilities on paper helps hold everyone involved accountable.
- Whatever the plan and no matter the partner, you need to be on the same page. There needs to be open communication and the entire team involved must be working towards the same goal. Although there are many pros, this type of marketing strategy has many moving parts and to avoid a breakdown you must all be on the same page.
- Set your goals, but be realistic. Aim high, but don’t be crazy with your expectations. Take into account where you would like the outcomes to land and compare that to where you think they realistically will. You’ll probably land somewhere in the middle.
From Bonne Bell and Dr Pepper’s famous Dr Pepper Flavored Lip Balm in the early ’70s, to Red Bull and GoPro’s recent “Stratos” campaign, there are many examples of how this approach can benefit both companies. One of the most philanthropic iterations of co-marketing ever executed is The Global Fund and Gap’s “Product (RED)” campaign, in which Gap donates 50% of all proceeds from the branded clothing line to The Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa. This long term example has been around for 11 years and has raised more than $130 million for the charity. And while the above examples are well-established brands, don’t let that scare you. The brand you’re competing against could very well be your greatest collaborator and a co-marketing campaign could help you both expand your business beyond your wildest dreams. As long as it’s a win-win, the sky’s the limit.
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