Are you leveraging all the opportunities you have to co-market your business and expand your reach in 2019? How do you expect to hit those optimistic 2019 goals and quarterly quotas with the same old tactics from 2018 (some of which might not have worked all that well in the first place)?
One of the biggest advertising successes of the 2019 Super Bowl was a Bud Light commercial that included a teaser for the final season of Game of Thrones. According to The Wall Street Journal, the commercial was “one of the biggest and boldest marketing tie-ins [HBO] has ever orchestrated.”
The ad is a great example of co-marketing, which can be an extremely lucrative marketing tactic for businesses of all sizes and industries.
What Is Co-Marketing?
Co-marketing is the teaming of two or more companies to communicate with their distinct audiences in a collaborative fashion and is different from co-branding, cross-promotion, or cross-selling.
- Co-Branding is the marketing of a new product or service with another partner or partners. Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell and Frito Lay is a good example.
- Cross-Promotion is a marketing tactic in which customers of one product or service are targeted with the promotion of a related product or service. An often cited example of cross promotion is Oprah promoting her magazine to the viewers of her show. Done poorly, this tactic can come across as salesy and potentially harm the trust a company has with its customers.
- Cross-Selling is selling another product or service to one of your existing customers. You likely encounter this whenever you’re talking to your account manager about any tools or technology you have. Sales teams love cross-selling because the buyer has already said yes at least once before to your company
The Benefits of Co-Marketing
Co-marketing helps businesses generate new leads and increase their sales figures. It’s that simple. But it can also introduce your company to new audiences and further solidify your relationships with existing audiences. Additionally, co-marketing helps introduce fresh content, new campaigns, and innovative tactics into your marketing mix. Depending on the partnership, your co-marketing efforts might add credibility and expertise to your offering. There could also be major SEO benefits if you’re structuring your link-building campaigns among partners wisely.
Who Are the Best Co-Marketing Partners?
At the very least, you should choose co-marketing partners that complement your product or service, not compete against it. (That said, in 2015, Burger King deep fried its own twist on co-marketing — and co-branding — by humorously inviting McDonalds to join forces to create the McWhopper to celebrate Peace Day.)
So, if you can’t team up with your competitors, who should you reach out to? Your first move should be to ask your sales and customer support teams which vendors your customers are most frequently working with. If you already have this data in your CRM, create a report to learn who are the most prevalent. If not, you could always ask your customers to participate in a short survey listing their favorite vendors.
In addition, consider reaching out to industry analysts or researching third-party reports focusing on who is working in your space. Or, you could create a list of all the tools and technologies in your space, organize them into potential partners, and then begin outreach efforts. Another great way to identify potential co-marketing partners is to research who is creating similar content for your target audience.
Once you have compiled a list of potential partners, you need to determine which of them is the best fit. Ask the following qualifying questions to gauge which companies on your list might be a good match:
- How many leads can I expect to get with this partner?
- How many leads can they expect to get from partnering with me?
- What about this prospective partner’s unique value would engage my audience?
- What is their reputation, and what would be the perception of my company working with them?
- Would we work well together from a professional standpoint?
- How many resources can they offer — and vice versa?
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Developing a Co-Marketing Strategy
When considering your co-marketing strategy, you should think first in terms of how you can help the prospective partner. How does your co-marketing benefit you, your partner, and your respective audiences? No one wants to be in a one-sided relationship, so do your best to get some real perspective on the questions above by answering them as if you were the prospective partner.
And before speaking with them about potential co-marketing opportunities, make sure you can answer these questions about your company for them (they’ll want to know, trust me):
- Who are your targeted personas?
- How big are your email lists and how are they segmented?
- How big is your social following on each respective platform?
- How much monthly traffic does your website or blog get?
- What additional resources can you share with your partner?
- What types of co-marketing tactics have you done in the past and were they successful?
- What strategies do you or your team have in mind?
Co-Marketing Concepts and Tactics
When getting started co-marketing with an untested partner, you should try to create guest content for one another. This will give you a sense of each other’s voice, adherence to deadlines, and subject matter expertise. If you or your partner drops the ball, it’s easy enough to reschedule another blog post for that slot, and you’ve deftly dodged a bullet.
Guest posts on each other’s blogs are a great way to introduce your respective audiences to each other. You can write original content for the post or republish an evergreen post (but be sure to add the rel=canonical to the original post). You could also interview a subject matter expert from your respective companies and include excerpts of the discussion in a an eBook, infographic, or blog post.
Podcasts and Videos
Podcasts and videos represent another great co-marketing opportunity. In the past, we’ve interviewed Vidyard’s Tyler Lessard for Act-On’s Rethink Marketing podcast to talk about the importance of video in B2B marketing. Those podcast interviews are the gifts that just keep giving in the form of blog posts, slideshares, videos, eBooks, and more. I’ve also created co-marketing podcasts and videos with some of our other close partners — including Gong.io, Oktopost, and ListenLoop among others.
Co-marketing via a webinar is a fantastic way to get leads into the funnel quickly. Once you and your co-marketing partner have agreed to work together, you should start planning at least two webinars together — giving you both the opportunity to host and serve as a guest contributor. Make sure to prepare informative and professional presentation decks, coordinate with your webinar service to avoid logistical issues, and promote the event to both your audiences through numerous marketing channels beginning at least 30 days in advance of the event. The registration landing page should be on your website when you are hosting and vice versa.
We’ll talk about this more in the co-marketing agreement section, but you’ll want to be prompt in sending each other the attendee registration lists. And you will want to have a good co-marketing plan for following up on the webinar. Does this include sending a link to watch the webinar on demand? Will you be sending one email, or will each partner be responsible for sending an email? These elements need to be discussed ahead of time to ensure seamless execution.
When developing a whitepaper or eBook with a co-marketers, you could be working together on one overarching topic or interviewing each other’s subject matter experts for material to be included in new updates to existing content. Or, another potentially effective idea is to have a team of co-marketing partners working together to create an annually recurring trends and predictions eBook that is updated each subsequent year.
Original research often results in some of the most effective content marketing initiatives. For instance, The Content Marketing Institute releases their annual B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report, and Puppet, the open-core software configuration management tool, release an annual DevOps Salary report — these pieces are link-generating machines!
Original research can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive, but if you can split the resources with a partner, these projects become much more feasible. The easiest and most efficient way to do this is to create a survey to market to your respective audiences and then use those results to create assets like infographics and banner ads to support your demand generation efforts.
You’ve likely already been approached to participate in many of these tactics with partners (namely industry analysts or industry influencer consultancies) but at a cost exceeding your budget. These partnerships are always a potential option, but for the purposes of this post, we are focusing more on working with partners with whom you can split costs and share resources.
AMA on a Social Platform
Ask Me Anythings (AMA) are online events held on Twitter or other social platforms in which the audience can, quite literally, ask you and your co-marketing partners any question pertaining to your business. AMA events can be logistically challenging because you need someone screening the questions, and you want to give provide the best possible answers that place your company in a positive light. Working with a wingman can help ease the load and sharpen the focus.
Event marketing events are perfect co-marketing opportunities because they allow you to split costs and labor with an informed and eager partner. This includes sharing banner and swag costs and referring visitors to each other’s booths.
You could also create your own event with your co-marketing partner(s) where each partner can act as keynote speakers. If you don’t have a co-marketing partner, you could host an event and invite speakers you feel would be good future partners. If they agree to speak, they’ll promote the event throughout their digital channels with their audiences, which will help you leave a larger digital footprint in that space.
Do You Need a Co-Marketing Agreement?
The answer to this question depends on several variables — including costs, intellectual property concerns, content development, deadlines, goals, etc. When working on a relatively small opportunity together (such as writing a blog), a verbal agreement is probably sufficient. But if you’re planning on a larger and longer engagement involving significant resources, you might want to call in the lawyers to iron out the details.
Among the things you’ll need in writing — goals, deadlines, shared resources (including leads), cadence, topics and tactics, ownership of materials (where does that webinar live), and promotion and follow-up plans — should be at the top of the list. Communicating early and often is the best way to ensure success throughout the co-marketing project.
Tracking Co-Marketing ROI
The point of all this is to generate leads and close more deals to increase ROI, so you need to work with your co-marketing partner to discuss how you plan to track and share the results of your joint efforts. Key performance indicators will vary based on the activities you pursue and channels you utilize, but you should definitely be tracking budget, conversions, cost per lead, and how many of those leads eventually result in actual revenue.
Assess the Engagement
At the end of the engagement, you’ll need to gather key stakeholders to determine if the partnership was worth the effort (for both parties). Were they easy and fun to work with? Did they live up to their end of the bargain? Did you? Were you both able to turn a profit from your efforts or at least generate some positive brand awareness? The answers to these questions will inform future co-marketing projects, so be honest with yourself and direct with your partners.