Marketers are always looking to maximize the return on their time, effort, and money. So what if another company’s marketing team could do some of the work for you?
It’s called co-marketing, and it can be a win-win situation for two companies with the same goals. In a co-marketing agreement, two companies discuss how to promote a single offering, then they each leverage their own distribution networks, reach, and budget to drive leads and awareness about the product.
What’s the Difference Between Co-Marketing and Co-Branding?
You may have heard both those terms before and wondered if they mean the same thing. Turns out, they’re pretty close. Co-branding is when two companies both add their names to a product, often one that’s made with contributions from both products. Nike+, released in 2006, is a great example.
Nike’s market is runners, but they don’t make electronics. Apple makes electronics and has an enormous product base. So Apple made a little chip that embeds into Nike shoes and pairs automatically with Apple products to track speed, distance, and calories on your run.
Co-marketing often goes hand-in-hand with co-branding, but it’s more about the marketing efforts than the product itself. When Felix Baumgartner set the record for the world’s highest skydive in 2012, the event was sponsored and co-marketed by both Red Bull and GoPro. Both companies share a market — adventure athletes and adrenaline junkies — so they both brought their considerable marketing prowess to promote the event.
Neither of them actually created anything new for the event, but their combined marketing efforts brought in more attention than either would have alone.
Why Should You Try Co-Marketing?
The most common form of co-marketing in the digital world is for two companies to partner on the creation of a piece of content, then promote that content to both companies’ audience. Often, the content — usually a webinar, ebook, or whitepaper — sits behind a lead generation form that captures contact information. If both partners share the downloads for the content, they’ll generate twice as many leads as they normally would.
The most important thing when deciding to co-market with someone is that your goals are aligned. Obviously, it makes sense to partner with someone that shares your target market, but you don’t want to be too close — if the same people see both promotions, you’re just getting redundant leads.
Think about what your co-marketing partner has that you don’t. Do they have a more robust email list? Better SEO targeting by location? A stronger social media network that you can take advantage of?
Think about your partner’s reputation and brand image, too. The world-famous biologist Richard Dawkins used to deny invitations to stage events with people who wanted to debate him, saying, “that would look better on your resume than it would on mine.” The same is true of your co-marketing arrangement. Getting more leads isn’t necessarily a good thing if it comes at the cost of working with a company whose values are antithetical to yours.
How To Plan a Co-Marketing Agreement
It should go without saying that you need everything in writing before you start marketing anything. Set expectations and plan your project to make sure that it benefits both partners.
First, make sure that your goals are very clearly outlined. If you want to generate leads, your partner should also be looking to generate leads. If you’re trying to sell tickets to an event, make sure they are too.
Talk about what the content will be about, and plan a lot of extra time to create it. You’ll be passing the content back and forth a few times to make sure that everyone approves, which might take twice as long as creating something from scratch yourself.
Talk about your skills. Between you and your co-marketing partner, there will be some skills that your team is better at than theirs — and vice versa. If you have the best email network, but they have a stronger social presence, then adjust your budgets so that each of you is spending more on your strengths.
Promoting Co-Marketed Content
Before you start marketing your shared content, make sure you agree on a launch date with your partner. Get on the same page about phrasing, branding, and which channels you’ll use. Are you each creating a landing page or are you sending them to the same page? Are you creating a shared hashtag on Twitter?
Once you’ve decided on the basics, do what you do best! Blogs, emails, and social media are all great channels for promoting shared content to your audience just like you do for your own content.
Finally, make sure you communicate with your partner when the project is underway and when it’s finished. Compare stats and combine analytics if you can. Cross-check the leads you each generated to make sure you’re working with the same information. And keep in touch! If this effort was successful, there’s a good chance you could benefit from a similar effort again in the future. Co-marketing can be a huge win for two companies, as long as you take the time to make sure everyone’s on the same page.