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Business is hard work. You have so much to do, from meeting the needs of your target audience to developing effective marketing strategies. In a competitive environment, it can be extremely difficult for businesses to reach potential customers, increase brand awareness, and generate qualified leads.

If this sounds like you, there is a simple solution: co-marketing. This guide will help you get it right.

Definition of co-marketing

Co-marketing consists of teaming up with one or more companies to develop a marketing campaign. This is not the same as co-branding, which refers to the strategic association of two companies and in doing so, the creation of a new product together.

In co-marketing, the companies involved form a partnership to market the products and services they already offer to potential customers. The marketing plan is to promote the products of both companies and increase brand awareness.

The two main types of co-marketing are …

  1. Affiliate marketing, a popular type of digital marketing where brands actively collaborate with bloggers and influencers to increase brand awareness and reach their target audience
  2. Diffusion partnership, a partnership where two brands combine their products or offer their products to another brand so that they can combine them with theirs

Here is an example of a co-marketing campaign by Etsy and General Assembly:

Etsy is a popular place for artisans to submit their work; General Assembly offers courses in coding, business, data, and design skills. The companies collaborated and created events that gave Etsy artisans the opportunity to design products and host global events.

Co-marketing has many advantages:

  • It’s incredibly profitable (you share the marketing costs with the brands you partner with).
  • It expands your customer base.
  • This gives you access to more talent.
  • It helps small brands strengthen their brand identity when relevant marketing messages are delivered through a larger, more established brand.
  • It gives you access to additional data through your partner.
  • This gives you a chance to learn more about your partner business, and you end up learning more about yours too.

A four-step plan for creating a co-marketing strategy

Creating a co-marketing strategy can seem like a daunting task. However, with the right knowledge and the right tools, you can successfully implement a marketing partnership that benefits both businesses.

1. Select a partner to present your idea

You need to do extensive research before choosing a company to pitch your idea to. The campaign is expected to benefit both brands. So when looking for a partner to introduce yourself to, make sure their company values ​​resonate with yours. Your target audiences should also be aligned.

In your pitch, describe your marketing schemes in an intriguing way. Go the extra mile and show the other business what opportunities they’re going to miss by telling you no. Don’t focus on what you can gain from the partnership; focus on what your partner can gain.

2. Set goals for mutual benefit

There’s no point in pursuing a co-marketing partnership if your goals aren’t aligned. Even if they are not the same, they should at least be complementary.

These objectives must be clear from the start. When you know your goals, you will know the strategies you need to implement to achieve them. Also, if your goals aren’t clear from the start, how can you expect your partner to help you achieve them?

Listen to and understand each other and what you are looking to gain from the partnership.

Goal setting can be difficult and both partners need to understand the basics. Consider the following image:

5 principles for successfully setting goals

You can also select metrics to track your progress.

3. Decide on a timeline

The only way to achieve your co-marketing goals on time is to set a (realistic) timeline. This will prevent you from wasting time. When people have a deadline, they tend to procrastinate less because the deadline puts extra pressure on them.

So when discussing your schedule with your partner, also discuss who does what. For example, who will be in charge of social media marketing materials? Will it be your marketing team or that of your partner? Or maybe you prefer your two teams to work together?

The more precise the division of labor, the better. If something fails to deliver, you’ll also know who needs to be held responsible.

Here is an example of a marketing calendar:

Example of a marketing timeline chart

The key is to communicate. Neither partner should assign a task and a deadline to the other partner’s team without consulting first. An efficient workflow will keep both companies up and running, and great marketing prospects await both of them.

4. Write the agreement

In other words, seal the deal.

Create a formal agreement of your co-marketing partnership with all the relevant details. This will help both parties to avoid misunderstandings later. Include things like content formats, for example, so that any party can reconsider the agreement if there is any confusion.

The co-marketing partnership document can be legal or non-legal; it’s up to the two companies to decide. If this is your first partnership, a legal document may be the best option.

In your deal, include everything you talked about: timeline, common goals, blog post topics if it’s a content marketing collaboration, etc. Both partners must have an equal voice in decision making. This ensures justice and fairness and also adds value to the relationship.

* * *

Co-marketing has so many advantages: access to more resources and more talent, among others. You also build strong relationships with other brands.

But for a co-marketing partnership to be successful, it has to be strategic. Follow the steps in this article: Pick the right partner, set mutual benefit goals, decide on the timeline, and then write the deal.

Communicate with your partner at any time. The goal is to help each other to achieve each other’s goals. If you and your partner have this in mind at all times, your co-marketing partnership will yield great results for both of you.

More resources on marketing partnerships and co-marketing

How to Build a Strong Marketing Plan for Channel Partners

How to build successful B2B relationships

How to create a thriving ecosystem of customers, partners, advocates and influencers