Partner Up and Multiply Success with Collaborative Marketing
Increase brand awareness, customers, and sales
Collaborative marketing helps break into new markets with complementary industry matchups, such as SaaS cloud migration and backup technologies or security solutions and smart home platforms.
Effective collaboration strengthens connections and leads to increasing sales. By pooling resources and teaming up on mutually beneficial marketing initiatives – anything from guest blogging to launching a co-branded product – businesses with similar values and audiences can achieve a win-win for both brand partners.
Create a successful B2B marketing collaboration
Simply put, the collaboration should make sense. The brand pairings, even if they come from different industries, should be so likeminded that their individual brand messages come together naturally. An F&B company and an ag-intel platform fits the bill perfectly.
The partner brands and products should complement each other to create something unique, such as a healthcare provider and a remote health monitoring platform or a smart home device deployed in an eldercare facility.
Both brands should share similar target markets, with customer bases that fall into the same demographic – for example, an EV manufacturer and an EV charging platform.
Last, but not least, both brand partners should share related marketing goals. If a telecom provider wanted to increase sales, it makes sense to partner with a mobile security company that could give the former an advantage and the latter greater exposure.
The rewards: Why B2B collaborative marketing is worth the effort
Going it alone may not be the best approach in today’s increasingly complex, ever-changing markets. To open up new markets, reinvigorate your brand, tap into the latest trends, and drive innovation, “two heads are better than one.” Joining forces and building strategic partnerships with the “right” brand partner not only vastly increases your brand reach, but it also gives you access to additional skills and resources. Combining two compatible brands’ assets – while working together on marketing initiatives – benefits both partners, enhancing both parties’ influence, sales leads, and brand exposure to effectively achieve each organization’s marketing goals.
The rewards for such collaboration include:
- Expanding the customer base
- Boosting credibility by associating with a reputable brand
- Saving on marketing costs by sharing resources and risks
- Filling knowledge gaps while leveraging existing brand strengths
- Gaining exposure to new audiences and growing social media following
- Improving SEO performance via collaborative content and link-sharing
- Enjoying long-term, beneficial connections
The risks: It takes more than a handshake to seal the deal
Like any successful relationship, embarking on B2B collaborative marketing takes careful thought. Like any profitable endeavor, it necessitates meticulous planning and precise execution. Before even sending the initial emails, understand the challenges – and counter them by doing your due diligence.
Collaboration could fail if you don’t deal with these risks, and vague collaboration terms will set you up for potential pitfalls. Clarify all the conditions in the partnership agreement – everything from roles and responsibilities to timelines and deliverables, from who signs the contracts to who approves the campaigns. Make sure you have enough time to iron out wrinkles.
The wrong partner may turn win-win to win-lose, and you just might end up with a smaller piece of the pie. Exercise extreme care in this area and team up only with like-minded businesses, with partners who have a positive track record and who share your business values.
Conflicting ideas will cause delays in deliverables, not to mention unpleasant working relationships. Remember that you’ll now be working with TWO creative/marketing teams – one of which isn’t under your control. Compromise on both sides is essential if the collaboration is to work.
A shift in focus could cause you to neglect your brand. While it’s exciting to work with new brand partners, don’t let the excitement cause you to totally lose focus on your own brand and brand objectives.
Insufficient commitment can take the wind out of your collaboration sails. Are you and your brand partner all-in in terms of time, effort, and resources? Do you have a dedicated team to carry out those collaboration activities? Is there C-suite buy-in of this marketing strategy? If not, your B2B collaborative marketing efforts may be for naught.
Legal problems will place roadblocks to collaborative marketing success. From contracts and governance to intellectual property and data treatment, potential legal issues could crop up during the collaboration. Have your legal team assess the situation and rectify issues in as collegial a manner as possible.
The right fit: How to find your ideal partner
The ideal collaboration partner may not be that tech enterprise whose CEO happens to be your squash partner or that software company where you used to work five years ago. Instead, find a B2B vendor whose values, solutions, and audience are compatible (although not competitive, of course with yours), whose brand reputation and credibility are impeccable, and whose business practices augur a smooth and fruitful partnership.
To find the right fit for your B2b collaborative marketing efforts, look for a brand that:
- Complements your solution or mirrors your brand message. Think agritech and F&Bs.
- Targets similar demographics- say, security pros and smart home companies.
- Has compatible marketing goals. For example, retailers or smart buildings who want to enhance their operations would do well to partner with indoor geolocation tech that provides real-time navigation.
- Offers a positive track record in past B2B collaborative partnerships, i.e., has helped previous partners improve, grow, and innovate
Now that you know what to look for in a collaborative marketing partner, here’s how to find them:
Define your specific partnership goals
Find a partner whose collaboration objectives align with yours – be they increasing social media followers, improving website traffic, boosting your email list or free trial signups, or acquiring more qualified sales leads. Aim for more definitive goals than just “increasing brand awareness.”
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Find a partner who can fill in those knowledge/expertise gaps and whose own vulnerabilities you can shore up: For example, a partner with strong social media credentials who can bolster your client engagement capabilities or a company who could use your SEO expertise to develop high-performing websites. “Win-win” is the point of the exercise.
Seek a partner whose reputation and credibility reflect well on you
Conduct due diligence to ensure that no legal, financial, criminal, security, or other negative issues will come back later to negatively impact your brand.
Find out who your audience likes
Find a partner whose brand may have been liked, followed, engaged with, or advocated for by your social media followers. You may find a few brands that have intersected with yours. Check for compatibility.
Leverage existing relationships
Find potential B2B collaborative marketing partners in peers from related industries who do not directly compete with you, whose audiences overlap with yours, whose work you admire, and with whom you already have positive relationships.
Keep your clients in mind
Find a partner who can help you solve your client’s problems, meet your customers’ needs, and whose platforms appeal to your client base.
Six tips for successful B2B collaborative marketing
According to recent statistics, collaborative marketing is becoming increasingly popular and reshaping the B2B landscape. In fact, 63% of B2B enterprises have collaborated with start-ups and digital ventures to improve their operations – integrating a co-vendor’s technology to make your processes more efficient or partnering with brands that complement yours to expand your client base.
Here are six ways to do B2B collaborative marketing right – and do it well:
- Systematically plan the entire collaboration process
- Build off each partner’s strengths to mask shortcomings
- Test the waters by starting small with a simple agreement before moving on to more complex partnerships
- Keep partners in the loop with regular communication
- Select the type of B2B partnership you need (strategic? channel? technology?) and the collaborative marketing strategy that suits both partners best
- Routinely audit collaborative partnerships to meet changing organizational needs
The right tools: the type collaboration activities that work best for your brand
Collaborate on social media (LinkedIn, YouTube, Q&A articles, interview blogs, etc.) to expand your market reach. This is especially effective for like-minded businesses like telecom and cellular cybersecurity, health data tracking software and neurological monitoring platforms, etc.
Guest-blog on your brand partner’s website to gain a new audience, promote your thought leadership, and/or increase your website traffic and grow your SEO via shared links.
Share mailing lists. You target similar audiences, and your thought leadership blog or advertising content will find a perfect home in your partner’s email campaign. Remember email’s unbeatable ROI.
Co-produce a podcast. Nurture a very targeted audience, complement your blog and video strategies, provide on-demand content, and gain your listeners’ audio attention even as they’re engaged in other activities. B2B brands with similar audiences can leverage all these benefits with a series of co-branded episodes.
Join forces on a promotion. Attract potential new customers with a freebie. Offer a free ebook on your brand partner’s website or package your solution with theirs – they can get your app free 30 days with their purchase of your partner’s platform.
Create referral partnerships. These leverage the power of word-of-mouth, where brand partners refer targeted leads to each other for commission – so critical with high-initial-outlay and long-sales-cycle B2B products.
Effective implementation: How to make B2B collaborative marketing happen
So, you’re all in on this B2B collaborative marketing idea. One thing stands in the way: how do you make it happen?
Here’s a proven 10-step implementation guide:
Step 1 – Research and select your collaboration partner, ensuring the brand is compatible or complementary to yours and the business values and collaboration goals are aligned.
Step 2 – Identify, negotiate, and agree on your collaborative marketing goals, whether they’re simple or complex.
Step 3 – Codify all details and responsibilities in writing. Clarify the nuts and bolts – from workflows and timelines to roles and deliverables…from processes and procedures to budgets and approval processes…from contract signing participants to the ultimate decision maker.
Step 4 – Decide which combination of collaborative partnership strategies will give win-win results: retail partnerships? Referral marketing? Collaborative content? Partnership discounts?
Step 5 – Assemble a cross-functional team from both partner brands, including people from all relevant departments – and ensure that they have the skills sets necessary to meet collaboration requirements and goals.
Step 6 – Make sure that both brand partners have an equal voice, invest the same resources, and contribute according to their available time, technical skills, and financial assets.
Step 7 – Establish effective communication processes so both partners are on the same page on all collaboration activities. Unpleasant surprises can derail your efforts.
Step 8 – Create a mutually agreed-upon marketing plan for the collaboration. Decide when the collaboration begins and ends.
Step 9 – Make a backup plan so collaboration can continue in cases of missed deadlines or reduced (or eliminated) budgets, changes in decision makers, or unexpected (or negative) results of marketing efforts.
Step 10 – Commit to the success of the collaboration. Persist to the end with your best efforts, whatever bumps occur along the way.
Partner with K2 to facilitate B2B collaborative marketing success
Ready to plan and implement your B2B collaborative marketing campaign? Before you do anything, call the agency who has successfully shepherded other B2Bs to successful collaboration. From finding the right match and building your collaboration team to achieving stress-free implementation and measuring results, K2 will be right there with you.