How Marketing Partnerships Can Benefit Your Business

Coca-Cola is teaming up with Marvel Studios to promote Marvel’s forthcoming May release “Captain America: Civil War.” The promotional campaign kicked off with a Super Bowl ad featuring Ant-Man trying to steal a Coca-Cola Mini can from Hulk’s alter-ego Bruce Banner, who doesn’t like it when he’s thirsty. Hulk chases his tiny adversary down, only to find he needs his help to open the can with his huge hands. The ad introduced a promotion featuring co-branded Coke Mini cans with illustrations of the Hulk, Ant-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow.

Coke and Marvel’s joint promotion illustrates the type of strategic partnership that successful companies use effectively. Here are a few ways forming promotional partnerships can benefit your business.

Join Up with Partners Who Can Attract Your Competition’s Customers

To launch its Surface touchscreen tablets, Microsoft used a guerrilla marketing tactic to put itself in a position to attract Apple customers. Microsoft identified small businesses located near Apple Stores and arranged promotional partnerships to display Surface ads in places where Apple customers would see them. For instance, Microsoft used the wall on the outside of a car wash near an Apple Store to display a graffiti ad for Surface tablets. As this illustrates, finding partners who can help promote you to your competition’s customers can be an efficient way to attract your target market at minimal cost.

Identify businesses who share a mutual relationship with your competition and their customers, and find ways you can use that relationship to reach your competition’s customers. In addition to renting partners’ advertising space as Microsoft did, you can use techniques such as geotargeted ads extending discount offers to customers in your partner’s store.

Provide Partners with Content for Mutual Promotion

Dr. Phil McGraw first gained national attention by appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1998. He soon began appearing on a regular segment on Oprah’s show, giving him a platform for a spinoff show produced by Oprah’s company and launching him into bestselling author status. Dr. Phil and Oprah continue their relationship today, with Oprah appearing on Dr. Phil’s show for a reunion interview recently.

Their relationship illustrates how both partners can benefit from a promotional arrangement where one partner provides content for the other’s audience. Oprah’s talk show relied on interesting guests; Dr. Phil was able to fill this need, in return for the publicity he got from appearing on Oprah’s nationally-syndicated show.

The same principle applies online, where websites such as business blogs and news media outlets rely on experts for content in order to gain better search engine rankings. By offering content in such forms as interviews and guest blogs, you can gain publicity for both your partner and your own company.

Help Partners Provide Value to Your Mutual Target Market

This winter the National Parent Teacher Association teamed up with LifeLock to promote the Smart Talk Giveaway, a sweepstakes where the winning family received a trip to Disney World for a dream summer vacation. The sweepstakes was part of a promotion for The Smart Talk, an app the PTA and LifeLock designed to help families stay safe online. The app and sweepstakes gave LifeLock an opportunity to share its security expertise with the families the PTA works with. In so doing, LifeLock gained publicity by providing the PTA with value to share with its target market.

Designing an app and running a sweepstakes are just a couple of ways to do this. Another example is when movie theaters provide local stores with free tickets to give their customers, expecting to make up for the loss with refreshment sales and repeat business. Inexpensive loss leaders such as this are an excellent way to cultivate strategic partnership relationships.

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