The Ultimate Guide to Brand to Brand Partnerships

With a carefully aligned strategy and relevant, tight-knit relationship, brand-to-brand partnerships can have an incredible impact on a business’s performance. Teaming with like-minded brands can help you capture an even wider audience, one who are already loyal and ready to convert.

In our guide, created alongside partnership management network, Impact, we help you understand all the opportunities available within the brand-to-brand partnership channel. Here, you’ll learn how to identify core objectives, engage with potential partners and secure all-important stakeholder buy-in for your partnerships.

Want to learn even more? Download our Brand-to-Brand Partnership E-Book now.

Chapters
1 What are brand-to-brand partnerships?
2 Identify your partnership objectives
3 Find the right fit
4 Find and recruit potential partners
5 Make a business case and secure internal buy-in
6 Different ways to partner with other brands
7 Use technology to measure success and drive growth

What are brand-to-brand partnerships?

Are you looking to grow your revenue through new customer acquisition? Would you like to diversify your partner mix to reduce your reliance on several top partners? Or is your goal to monetise your existing audience? Brand-to-brand partnerships can help.

What is a brand-to-brand partnership?

A brand-to-brand partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship where two brands work together to achieve success for both parties. This type of partnership strategy brings brands together to collaborate on strategic marketing campaigns. Strong brand-to-brand partnerships leverage similar or complementary industries, customer needs, and audiences – their goals: to increase sales and customer engagement and raise consumer awareness for all brands involved.

Benefits of brand-to-brand partnerships

These partnerships are a great way for affiliate managers and partnerships managers to bring a partnership program to maturity. Mature programs provide enormous value. Acquiring new customers or monetising an audience allows brands to drive significant business revenue growth. A recent study by Forrester showed how companies with mature partnerships programs grew revenue twice as fast as those with less mature programs.

Brand-to-brand partnerships provide myriad benefits, including:

  • Creating security through diversification. Reduce risk by using all available and
    emerging partnership types to maximise performance rather than shoehorning your program into a few tried-and-tested types.
  • Ensuring engagement at different parts of the customer journey. Brand-to-brand partnerships can build awareness for your brand at the top of the funnel, educate potential customers mid-funnel, and ultimately drive customers toward conversion.
  • Burnishing brand image. Raise your brand’s stature by working with other prominent brands.
  • Beating the plateau. Brand-to-brand partnerships can provide sustained incremental revenue growth when revenue growth from other types of partnerships stalls.
  • Improved customer experience. From discounts to expanded services, brand-to-brand partnerships can add value for your customers in numerous ways.

Identify your partnership objectives

From the start, it’s important to identify what you hope to achieve with each new brand-to-brand partnership. A strong partnership begins with a well-defined business goal you’ll ultimately reach through cooperation with another company. The most common goals for partnerships include:

  • Tapping a different audience to acquire new customers
  • Generating more revenue from current customers
  • Customer acquisition

If your goal is to acquire new customers, partnering with another brand to tap into its audience is one route to success. With this type of brand-to-brand partnership, you pay a partner to refer customers to your brand. Just like other referral partnerships, this type of
partnership delivers warm leads to your sales funnel.

Incremental monetisation

If your objective is to earn more revenue, your customers may be an untapped resource.
Think of your monetization goal as the opposite of customer acquisition: rather than paying
another brand to tap into its customer network, that brand is paying you for referrals from
your network. Brand-to-brand partnerships like these bring benefits that are twofold: improved customer experience and increased revenue from referral commissions.

Find the right fit

For a partnership to be successful, it has to be the right fit for both your brand and your potential partner. Knowing in advance what you’re looking for in a partner can help you identify strong partnership opportunities. Start by creating an ideal partner profile. Think about the demographic, geographic, and behavioural profile of your target audience. What does your typical customer journey look like? Which verticals compliment your brand?

Values alignment

Once you know the kind of partner you’re looking for, how do you know when the fit is right? It all comes down to value alignment.

In other words, your goals and objectives need to match. The best partnership opportunities align with your brand’s vision and ethos, present a clear opportunity for mutual value exchange, and ideally, improve customer experience. Together, these factors create a win-win-win scenario:

  • A win for your brand as you achieve your brand awareness, customer acquisition or monetization objectives
    A win for your partner as it achieves its brand awareness, customer acquisition or monetisation objectives
    A win for your customers as they receive greater value

Audience overlap

To assess a partnership opportunity, look at the overlap between your target audience and your potential partner’s target audience. Significant overlap probably means the partnership would be a good fit. It indicates that the partner’s target audience would likely be receptive to your message.

Other times you may be looking for a fresh, new audience. When your goal is to break into a new market or demographic, seek brands with less target audience overlap.

Social audience analysis software, website data, and internal customer profiles are all tools that can help you determine similarities and differences between audiences.

Seek out experts

Partnerships are like a muscle an organisation needs to exercise to stay in shape. It’s often beneficial to partner with a brand that already has plenty of practice at being a partner.

Brands that already engage in brand-to-brand partnerships are the easiest partners to work with. You don’t have to sell them on the concept of “partnerships,” which leaves you with more energy to convince them your brand is a good fit.

Find and recruit potential partners

Since you now know the type of partners you’re looking for, it’s time to find them. The goal is to build a list of potential partners that fit your previously defined criteria.

The most common outreach strategies in partner recruitment include:

  • Using your platform or network marketplace to discover brands interested in new brand-to-brand partnerships
  • Tapping your existing social networks to find brands active in brand-to-brand partnerships, which often lead to quick wins
  • Performing cold outreach based on your “ideal partner” list
  • Automating high-volume recruitment and outreach efforts with LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Impact’s technology, which helps you target relevant professionals, industries, and companies en masse — with tools like competitive discovery or email drip campaigns

Make a business case and secure internal buy-in

By now you’re reaching out to potential partners and may even know a few that are interested in working together. But before you move forward, confirm that your own organisation is on board.

Making the business case

As exciting as it may be, you don’t have the time to pursue endless partnership opportunities. How do you determine which ones to prioritise? Create a business case for each prospective partnership and focus on those that offer the greatest potential for success.

A business case defines relevant stakeholders, expected resource and commission costs, estimated return on investment (ROI), risks, timelines, and benefits — as well as a plan for tracking and reporting. A convincing case shows expected partnership costs to be lower than your company’s expected incremental growth.

A case like that can help you secure the budget you need to bring on a new partner. If your brand needs help with developing a business case, agencies like Silverbean can provide you with support throughout the process and provide bolstering resources as well.

Defining success metrics

Before you can make the case for success, define what it looks like for your brand. Which concrete, measurable goals do you have in mind for a particular partnership? For example, exceed X amount of sales dollars per month or generate X amount of new revenue.

Partnerships ideally bolster your brand’s overall business goals and success metrics need to reflect that. Once you’ve decided on your goals for a certain partnership, ensure that the partner is on board with those targets too. Once the partnership kicks off, you’ll need to track metrics to assess its performance, which you can do through a management platform like Impact.

Working cross functionally with other internal teams

Some partnerships require skills and input from other teams within your company. Whether marketing, design, engineering, or business development, confirm that the relevant teams are committed before moving forward with a partnership. For example, if the partnership requires an integration, like Canva’s partnership with Hubspot, confirm that your developers are willing and able to take on the workload. Or if the partnership requires a co-branded landing page, make sure your design team is willing to help create the page.

An excellent way to get buy-in from other teams is to showcase the value of the partnership. Kick-off the partnership with low-barrier-to-entry promotional strategies that require minimal cross-functional collaboration. After the partnership starts to generate results, present the success to other teams. When you can prove the value it’s providing, other internal teams will be more willing to get on board.

Different ways to partner with other brands

Brand-to-brand partnerships can take many forms but some are easier to implement than others. Partnership styles can generally be divided into three tiers of complexity: entry level, collaborative, and integrated.

Entry level: Traditional affiliate promotion

Entry-level partnerships such as affiliate campaigns and loyalty programs are a good way to test your newly established partnerships program since they carry low costs and low risk. If a partnership goes well, you’ll be in a better position to justify the costs and complexity of higher tier programs. If you’re already using affiliate marketing, this also allows you to make use of existing resources and expertise while you test this new approach and learn how to collaborate on a campaign with another brand.

Collaborative tier: Increased digital activity

Collaborative partnerships move beyond affiliate partnerships to more closely collaborate through other low-barrier-to-entry media such as email, social, and apps. These partnerships create increasingly mutually beneficial online activity. While entry-level partnerships are often short-term, collaborative partnerships strategically plan for the long-term and generally entail multiple campaigns across various channels.

Integrated tier: Close cooperation

Integration is the deepest level of brand-to-brand partnership. Brands are intrinsically linked at this level, sharing risks and rewards as they work closely together on software integrations, API use, on-site content, and other long-term, mutually beneficial projects.

Use technology to measure success and drive growth

Partnerships can be hard to facilitate, especially when many tasks are manually performed. Technology can simplify the process, unlock growth, and make measuring your program’s success a breeze.

Your partnerships program requires technology that makes it easy to recruit new partners, offers flexible contracting so you can pay for value along the entire customer journey, and automates manual processes that can hold you back from achieving scale.

Tracking

Since each partnership is different, the best partnership technology solutions allow you to track the success metrics established for each individual partnership. Platforms such as Impact.com provide brands with a flexible tracking and attribution system.

Reporting for you and your partners
Reporting visibility makes it easy to literally see how your partnerships are performing. With in-depth, granular reporting tools, you can view performance from different angles. Detailed data and information allows you to uncover insights on how to better engage with your partners and optimise their efforts. Your partners need access to reporting too. Working from the same sources of information allows for smooth collaboration and a shared understanding of how to best optimise joint efforts.

Align payouts with business goals

Brand-to-brand partnerships are often nuanced and customised rather than one-size-fits-all. It’s optimal for your technology to be just as adaptable. Flexible contracting ensures that you can pay a partner for meeting a wide variety of goals at any point along the customer journey. Dynamic commissioning allows your brand to work with partners to come up with agreements that make them feel valued and properly rewards them for their efforts.

For example, a partner can be compensated differently for a conversion or for an intermediate step like a newsletter sign-up. This flexibility allows you to customise contracts and incentives to reward more than just final sale.

To find out more about how brand-to-brand partnerships can help hit your business goals, get in touch with a member of our team today. You can also download our full in-depth guide below.

Download the full Brand to Brand Partnership Guide now