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Collaborative Marketing: What It Is and How to Use It

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Blog header graphic: Collaborative marketing solutions

Add collaborative marketing to your overall marketing strategy and you can gain new customers, increase brand awareness, and boost sales. To do it, you have to find a partner brand that aligns with your company’s values and has a similar audience. From there, you can plan and execute marketing campaigns that benefit you both.

When you find brands that have an audience with a need for your product and vice-versa, both companies can find new ways to meet and exceed their marketing goals. We’ll use this article to go into more detail about what collaborative marketing is, how you can use it, and some important details to clarify when partnering with other brands. 

Collaborative marketing definition

Collaborative marketing is when you collaborate on marketing initiatives with other brands that are aligned with your company and have a similar audience. This could be something as simple as a social media post or as complicated as the launch of a co-branded product. 

Whatever the initiative, there are common elements in any collaborative marketing effort. First, you have to find a like-minded business that you can work with effectively. Your collaboration with another company is going to impact how your customers perceive your brand, so make sure it's a positive association. 

Once you have a brand partnership established, both sides need to take time to get together and outline clear terms for the collaboration. What’s the campaign? Who’s responsible for which parts of the workflow? What are the individual goals? And most importantly, what are the mutual goals? It’s important to center mutual benefit in the conversation, so take the time to clarify and be transparent about your individual and combined goals to get the full benefits.

Benefits of collaborative marketing

The benefits of collaborative marketing make it worth the effort of coordinating with another brand. To start, their engaged audience will be excited about something new and fresh and you’ll get the attention of people who are more likely to turn into loyal customers. You can expect to reap a wide range of benefits, including: 

    • Gaining new customers and leads
    • Increasing engagement on content, social media, and new digital products
    • Getting more app downloads 
    • Expanding brand awareness 
    • Driving conversions and revenue

How to implement collaborative marketing

If collaborative marketing sounds like a good move for your business, you can get started by using a simple model. Begin with a collaborative initiative for one brand at a small scale, see how it works, then expand your strategy. A basic social media post can evolve into an email campaign that is sent to millions of customers. When you find the right business to partner with, little beginnings can easily turn into big wins. 

1. Team up with like-minded businesses

Like-minded businesses often share the same values even if they’re in completely different industries. In fact, being in different industries can work really well for both companies. Take Red Bull and GoPro for example. Red Bull sells energy drinks and runs a media empire in action sports. GoPro makes cameras that the Red Bull audience knows and loves. When they combine their products, everyone gets what they want.

If you sell technology services, think about companies you can integrate services with. For example, a data center company could partner with a cybersecurity company to deliver a combined services product. The cybersecurity company could recommend the data center products to their current customers and vice versa. Both brands could share content across blogs and social media while benefiting each other. 

When your products are very closely related, it can be complicated to find a way to collaborate. Make sure that whichever business you team up with is like-minded, capable of working together, and has mutually beneficial goals.

2. Outline clear terms for collaboration

It’s vital to outline clear agreements at the start — for everything from workflow responsibilities to timelines. One good way to start this process is to list the expected deliverables and roles. Define which teams are responsible for producing marketing assets, who’s in charge of managing the overall project, and who the decision makers are. Come up with an estimated timeline for the project and make sure someone is playing the project manager role.

One of the most important pieces of a successful collaboration is setting clear approval roles. Who’s responsible for deciding if the collaboration is on brand? What happens if one brand doesn’t agree? Is there veto power on either side? If collaborative marketing is new for your company, decision-makers who aren’t normally involved in marketing approvals may fill these roles. Make sure to coach them on how to participate. 

Additional decision-makers could include a legal team for things like signing contracts. Or you could bring in additional members of your marketing team to outline a collaborative social media campaign, for example. The approach will depend on your company, the reach of the collaboration, and most importantly on your individual and shared goals.

3. Determine mutual goals

Make sure to clarify a list of goals that both brands agree on. If this is a simple collaboration on social media to test engagement, your list of goals will be brief. If you’re co-branding and launching a product, you’re looking at complex goals and legal contracts. It’s likely that you’ll find yourself somewhere in between those two positions and it’s vital that both parties understand and agree on the goals. 

For example, if you’re planning to send an email to another company’s audience, what are your specific, measurable goals? The company who owns the list will be looking to stay consistent or exceed their existing open and click rates, while you might be more concerned about who signs up for your service or buys a product. Make sure everything is on the table and clearly outlined. If revenue is involved, what’s the percentage of revenue share for using the list? 

Make sure to nail down all these details and your campaign or initiative will benefit both parties. If the goals are not clear, the brand partnership could end up being messy and potentially damaging. You may also want to consider investing in tools that make marketing collaboration more effective. 

Uplevel your strategy with marketing collaboration tools

Add marketing collaboration to your strategy mix and you can find new customers, increase brand awareness, and gain revenue. When you partner with like-minded brands who share an audience, you can reach your own marketing goals together. Whether you’re planning on the occasional social media post or a co-branded product, you’re going to need the marketing technology to execute.

Over 700 brands around the world trust the Widen Collective® to support their brand and content operations. With a central source for all your brand and marketing assets you can increase efficiencies across internal workflows and when working with external partners. Take a look to see how the Collective can support your collaborative marketing efforts. Request a demo today. 

Topics: Marketing

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