What is Partner Marketing? The Definitive Guide to Marketing Partnerships

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In this digital era, more businesses exist than ever before.

Graph showing the number of new business applications (2011 to 2021).

(Image Source)

In the US alone, there were 5.39 million new business applications in 2021. This figure continues to rise each year. While this makes for tougher competition and more difficult customer acquisition, sometimes it makes sense to team up with other businesses to achieve greater gains.

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. It’s true. Joining forces with brands that share your interests allows you to achieve greater marketing potential by boosting brand awareness and improving your online presence.

Partner marketing can be a real benefit for all involved. That’s you, your partner, and your customers. With greater recognition comes greater rewards. Whether you run a lead generation company or an SEO agency, it is an excellent move to spread the word about your business and attract more customers. Just see this list of the best Instagram growth service options to partner with and their benefits.

So, if you want to know more, read this definitive guide to marketing partnerships and find out what partner marketing is, along with the benefits it could bring to your business.

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What exactly is partner marketing?

Partner marketing is a strategic marketing collaboration between two or more businesses with similar objectives and interests.

Common objectives between partners include:

  • Increasing brand awareness.
  • Increasing audience reach.
  • Generating more traffic to websites and social pages.
  • Increasing conversion rates.
  • Boost customer acquisition efforts and retention.

Partner marketing works off the idea that brands with shared interests and audiences can offer value to each other by uniting their marketing efforts.

A good example of partner marketing is the partnership between GoPro and Red Bull for their Stratos campaign.

GoPro is primarily a camera company, while Red Bull makes energy drinks. However, both have also become known as lifestyle brands associated with high-octane adventure and extreme sports. These shared values enabled them to form a solid marketing partnership where they could promote each other’s products while increasing awareness.

Why are marketing partnerships useful?

Marketing partnerships can add value for everyone involved.

A survey found that 54% of respondents claimed marketing partnerships drive more than 20% of their total revenue. Clearly, having a solid partner marketing strategy can open up new potential for your business with a range of benefits.

Let’s now look at the most obvious benefits of marketing partnerships.

Form relationships with brands and access their audiences

Forming a partnership based on shared interests and goals is hugely beneficial. Not only can partnership marketing make you even more relevant to your intended audience, but it also gives you access to a new audience.

For example, the collaboration between Apple and Nike in 2006 merged technology and fashion audiences together when they created their Nike+ iPod fitness solution.

Apple gained customers from Nike, who already owned the Nike trainers, while Nike gained new customers from those who owned iPods and wanted to get involved.

Brands that offer an established audience let you worry less about hours of lead generation and expensive acquisition costs. Because the target audience is already there, all that’s needed is some clever marketing and a clear vision. Wellyx and TeamUp fitness management software, offers software to fitness business owners such as gyms, studios, personal trainers, etc. While their product is software, they work with other partners to offer their customers additional services such as marketing guidance, business coaching, mental health apps, certifications, facility equipment, and more.

Marketing partnerships are less expensive

Marketing partnerships can be less costly than other methods.


Acquiring new customers from scratch is expensive and laborious. Having access to your partners’ audiences from the get-go saves money.

Money is also usually split in marketing partnerships. If your last solo campaign cost $10,000, a similar campaign with a couple of partners could bring it down by 66%.

Essentially, marketing partnerships let you save money by leveraging the credibility and loyalty held towards other brands for your benefit.

Bring extra value to your existing audience

Marketing partnerships aren’t just about accessing new audiences to boost awareness; they bring extra value to your existing customers too.

The message you should deliver to your audience is “We value your interests and needs. Here’s something we think you might like.”

By adopting this approach, you’re showing your audience you want to give them extra value with relevant and useful products.

Form a marketing superteam

As the saying goes, many hands make light work.

Quite simply, having more hands and brains onboard should result in improved campaigns. Sharing the workload and bouncing ideas from one another is going to achieve better results than small marketing teams working with limited resources.

A partnership with larger-scale businesses could also give you access to industry-leading experts who are pros at what they do. Sometimes it makes sense to go with outsourcing over doing it yourself.

Start to imagine what could be achievable with several partners on board.

Different types of marketing partnerships

The term marketing partnerships encompasses a range of different collaborative marketing strategies.

Here are some of the most common types of marketing partnerships.

1. Affiliate marketing

Ever searched online for ‘what is an affiliate program and how does it work?’

Affiliate marketing is when businesses include links and other sources to the websites and stores of partners. When a visitor clicks the link and your partner brand makes a sale, you get paid too.

The popularity of affiliate marketing programs shows how beneficial this technique can be.

2. Distribution partnerships

Distribution partnerships are when one business makes use of its partner’s distribution channels to advertise its own products and services.

Distribution partnerships work well when discounts and incentives are offered to customers. A common example of this kind of partnership is in-store demonstrations.

3. Content sharing

This is one of the most straightforward marketing partnership techniques. The objective is simple; your chosen partner promotes your content to their audience.

The types of content shared usually include blog posts, social media posts, video montage maker collaborations, and real-life events.

Content sharing is great for getting your content out to new audiences, as well as for giving your existing audience new and relevant content from your partners.

4. Cross-promotion

Cross-promotion marketing is when you shout out other brands on your website, social pages, and anywhere else. In return, they do the same for you. The objective is to widen your reach, and it’s a great technique for marketing any new products or services you have in the pipeline.

People may not trust the opinions of their peers, but when recognizable brands start shouting you out in cross-promotion, they might just sit up and listen.

For example, perhaps you’ve developed new business proposal template software, and you’ve been trying to reach out wider to new businesses. You could enlist the help of a marketing tech blog and ask to feature in a post. This setup benefits you, them, and any potential customers who need the product and will see it.

5. Joint products

In some cases, your partnership marketing efforts will center around joint products.

Joint product collaborations are a great way to offer products that your business couldn’t produce alone. Two of the most common types of joint products are a white label partnership or a ‘powered by’ products approach. Think, Samsung phone powered by Android’s operating system.

Joint product marketing usually involves all partners and can create interesting and exciting campaigns.

How to start a marketing partnership

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of marketing partnerships, you may be wondering how to get started.

Like anything else, it all starts with a good plan. Here are some quick tips to get you going.

1. Find the right partners

A good marketing partnership needs good partners.

Collaboration truly blossoms when you and your partners share common goals, interests, and values. While it may be tempting to reach out to the biggest and most popular names out there, you should keep a more narrow focus.

For example, if you specialize in cloud-based automation software, instead of reaching out to more generalized big names, you could search autoML products online to find a relevant list of potential partners.  

Be careful though, although you want to partner with like-minded brands, you need to avoid direct competitors, as this could cause problems over market share.

2. Use the most appropriate channels for your audience

Once you’ve settled on a partner, you’ll need to select the most appropriate channels to get your content out.

Does your audience hang out on TikTok? Perhaps they’re professionals who mostly frequent LinkedIn? Are your partner’s audiences found in the same places, or do they use different channels?

Does your audience prefer videos? Blogs? Social engagement?

Whatever the answers, you’ll need to ensure your marketing efforts are deployed across the right channels.

However, ensure your chosen channels don’t favor your partner’s audience more than your own. You’ll only be successful at leveraging brand partnerships to boost your reach if you’re using the right channels to reach your audience.

3. Keep the lines of communication open

You won’t be able to communicate ideas to your audience very well if you can’t communicate with your partners.

While it’s usual to feel apprehensive at first, it’s crucial that you have a good working relationship with your chosen partners, and that communication is clear, frequent, and productive.

The first step is to make sure your goals are aligned. You’ll also need to openly discuss each business’ strong points and weak points. If your partner is weak in certain areas in which you are strong, and vice versa, you can negate this by helping each other.

Communication is ongoing and should take place throughout your whole partnership marketing campaign. Create regular online meeting agendas and run productive meetings. You’ll also need to start gathering data to track the performance of your efforts for growth marketing.

Final Thought

Hopefully, this partnership marketing guide has got you thinking about the benefits that joining forces with other brands could bring to your business.

With the ever-increasing cost of acquiring new customers, teaming up with another brand and gaining access to new audiences is something that should be part of your marketing arsenal if it isn’t already.

Marketing partnerships provide a win all around! You benefit, any partners benefit, and your customers benefit from receiving exciting new content and products to explore.

Remember, a good partnership requires everyone to be on the same page, so meticulous planning is key.

Good luck starting your next marketing partnership!

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