STEP

Marketing on a budget? Collaboration is key!

To put it plainly collaborative marketing is a strategy that involves working with similar companies to reach new customers, minimise costs and increase sales.

If you truly think about who you work with you are probably already doing some form of collaboration marketing, however, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and writing a proper marketing collaboration strategy will ensure you are getting the most out of your business relationships and stretch that budget as far as you can!

Collaboration does not mean Co-branding. Collaboration marketing is about marketing effort, whereas Co-branding is about a branding effort to create a joint product that represents both companies.

To make the most out of your Collaboration marketing, I’m going to take you through what your strategy should look like and show you some collaboration tactics to make the most out of your partnerships.

First things first, let’s be clear, it’s all about your objective

Before you even think about who you want to work with, you need to think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to get more social media followers? Do you want to show off the functionality of your product? Do you want to reach a very specific or niche group of people or even reward your loyal customers? Identifying what your objective is will help decide what activities to do and with who.

Who to work with

Choosing another brand to work with can be tough, especially for smaller businesses who are protective of every penny – which you should be!

But you’re not choosing a competitor you’re choosing a brand that complements your own, that shares a similar audience. Your customers buy this brand, their customers buy your products – or at least they are likely to. This is about knowing your audience inside out. Once you know who they are, what they like, what they don’t, how they shop and everything else, the brand(s) you should be working with will become clear.

Reaching Out

Once you’ve identified who you want to work with, you need to approach them. This is about selling what you have, being clear on why you should work together and what you can offer them.

Typically, there are two scenarios:

1. Combining budgets to do things that you wouldn’t be able to afford to do alone.

2. Using each other’s audience as cross-promotional currency to effectively double your reach.

When these two scenarios are combined, by using your budget to pay a company or person to attract their reach, this is Influencer marketing.

In an Instagram dominated world, Influencer marketing, whilst it used to be a part of Collaboration marketing, has become so big it now sits on its own as a strategy so I won’t be going over it here.

Okay, so now you have decided what you want to achieve and got a partner to help you achieve it. What are you going to do? There are several different tactics to use when collaborating.

eferral marketing

Referral marketing is also known as Affiliate marketing and used to be a strategy in itself, but it is now part of Collaboration marketing. Like its name nods to, referral marketing is when your collaboration partner generates leads for you by referring people to you. This could be in exchange for a commission or as part of a mutual referring arrangement. Be careful though. Ensure you are getting as much out of the arrangement as the other brand. Too often companies are being paid for referrals which never convert, or one company is passing on many more referrals than the other.

Collaborative content marketing

Content marketing when carried out collaboratively can be really effective. Again, there are many ways this can be achieved:

Guest Posting – You may choose to write for your partner company or vice versa.

Infographics – Use both of your company’s data to create a unique infographic/statistic.

Videos/Podcasts – Collaborate with your partner by creating a joint video or podcast.

No matter what type of content marketing you chose to collaborate on, the key is to share it with both companies’ audiences and therefore double your reach.

Joint adverts

Traditional advertising can be expensive but effective (depending on your audience). Collaborating can help lower the cost. Joint traditional marketing works best when you are collaborating with local businesses, however, there are lots of examples of big brands joining up to create TV adverts.

Partnership discounts

One of the most common collaborative marketing tactics is creating partnership promotional deals. For example, a cinema gives a discount voucher for a local restaurant with every ticket.

Collaborative mailing lists

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels for retention and repeat business. Collaborative mailing lists isn’t something that is explored often and with updated GDPR guidelines can put a lot of companies off. Don’t let it. Just ensure that in your privacy policy it is clear which companies you share data with and why.

This could simply be sharing a resource and putting together a joint campaign or placing an ad for your products in your partners’ email campaign and vice versa.

Joint Events

Collaborating on an event can be a little or a lot of work. If you are fixed for time, event collaboration could be as little a providing a sample or discount voucher at the event. This could be for a goody bag or perhaps for a freebie for attendees to enjoy at the event. If you have time, consider speaking at an event, hosting it in your own space and/or giving demos on the day. Just remember, in most cases “you get what you give”.

Shout Outs

The easiest form of collaborative marketing is to tag partner companies on social media. You don’t need a formal relationship with a company to do this, however, if you do, the other company is more likely to share, tag, like and engage with your post.

The best advice I could give when it comes to Collaborative Marketing is to think about mutual benefit and not sales and payment.

Collaborative marketing is about reaching more people which will eventually lead to sales but this may take time. Don’t get caught up thinking you don’t have anything to offer because you’re a small business. Small businesses working collaboratively can be a powerful thing!

If you need support with marketing your business get in touch with Jenn at step@stepscotlad.co.uk.

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