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Marketing for mutual benefit

Stephen Fenton

9 January 2015

We are often required to advise clients on how they can reach wider audiences, enhance their influence among new prospects and increase that all important extra footfall (whether in the digital realm or physically in store). Sometimes the answer comes in the form of promotional collaborations – who can we get into bed with so that brand communications enjoy broader appeal.

 

Robin Gadsby writing for ‘The Marketing Magazine’ puts it this way:

“You are using the power of endorsement, association and the confirmation-bias ‘halo effect’ to bring Brand X to a new audience. Then when you (as Brand Y) are introduced to your brand partner’s sector, this group doubles in size. Your marketing efforts and audience have just doubled, and added value is being delivered to your consumers.” 

 

Such joint initiatives are proven to work if conceived properly and executed well. They are always designed to benefit both partners. However, in our experience the very idea can be met with suspicion and scepticism. The question may be posed “what’s in it for us” and whilst commercially right and totally valid to be cautious, we would like to proffer the suggestion that when entertaining any kind of co-operation or allegiance brands ought to ask instead: what’s in it for our customers?

Wikipedia offers a great definition for this:

“Marketing co-operations are sensible when the marketing goals of two companies can be combined with a concrete performance measure for the end consumer. Successful marketing co-operations generate “win-win-win” situations that offer value not only to both partnering companies but also to their customers. Marketing co-operations extend the perspective of marketing.”

 

If there is a willingness to make something happen then more than half the battle is won, then there are a multitude of other areas to carefully consider. According to ‘The Marketer’ online these are the most important steps to take.

Step 1: Identify your goals 

It could be that those involved need to reach a new audience, improve a brand’s reputation, sell more products or reward loyalty.

Step 2: Choose the right partner

The alignment shouldn’t just make commercial sense, it should above all make sense in the consumers’ mind. This is even more important when the partnership is inextricably linked to product development.

When considering the arguments for and against collaborations ‘Luxury Society’ offers up these sobering thoughts:

“Luxury goods that would lose all relevance if they were to make products within their category of low quality and/or price. Would anyone realistically want to buy a watch conceptualised by Rolex, realised by Timex? Or a necklace designed by Cartier, realised by Claire’s?”

 

Step 3: Step out of your comfort zone

Notwithstanding point number 2, brands shouldn’t purely stick to their own sectors. While brand collaborations often represent a marriage of two similar businesses or industries, chemistry can be found elsewhere and the resulting impact in the market can be greater.

Step 4: Unify your vision

Maintain a sensitive understanding of each other’s brand identity, creative resource and ambitions. Build on areas where there is synergy.

Step 5: Immerse yourselves

A brand collaboration should look seamless to the outside world. The best way to do this is for each partner to fully immerse itself into the other – a concept that can be difficult to apply in practice!

Step 6: Plan ahead

Brands should plan their partnerships at least 6 to 12 months in advance, leaving plenty of time to work on co-creating the appropriate elements.

Step 7: Know your risks

Spreading the risk of a partnership is strategically sensible and helpful from a tactical perspective too.

Step 8: Be truly unique 

If brands are going to cut through the noise, they have to be brave and bold.

Step 9: Deliver an experience 

Some brands mistakenly think that sticking a logo on something that is already popular automatically earns an affinity with its audience. Any co-branding should be discrete and not out of place or credibility can be easily lost! It must feel right and flow deeper into the

Step 10: Define ROI

Have transparent reviews between both parties to avoiding falling into new promotions that are not strategically relevant or financially viable.

 

 

 

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