New technology is just one of the factors driving a sea change in how brands market themselves these days.
Linking up with other brands is another key development, as Tanya Hamilton-Smith, co-founder of members-only marketing platform The Influence Room explains.
Brand to brand partnerships are big business these days. They are an effective way to reach new audiences for a fraction of the budget required by other, more traditional marketing activities.
With two like-minded brands pulling in the same direction, using a combination of pooled assets, campaigns can be bigger and better than if either were to go it alone.
The borrowing of a partner brand’s credibility among a particular audience is hugely effective when looking to expand reach; as long as there is a fit between the brands.
So much so, that new technology platforms are now launching, designed to meet these needs. It’s a booming trend and marketers need to clue up or run the risk of falling behind.
Brands and macro trends
There are a number of macro trends that are responsible for this boom. Perhaps the most notable one is the economic instability which has been present (although somewhat ebbing and flowing) since 2008; further exacerbated by the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former impacted the consumer mindset in a way that has undermined trust in business and made transparency and honesty of greater importance than ever. That’s true for both B2C and B2B.
The latter has, if temporarily, altered the way we all live and work, creating new challenges for brands.
The tough economic landscape, tech developments and consumer trends have led to a difficult retail environment which requires a new approach to business and growth; especially in light of the measures in place that have seen stores shuttered and most of us isolating at home.
The appeal of cooperatively leveraging the brand equity, reach and power of other complimentary businesses through strategic partnerships is one way to help mitigate these circumstances.
The good, the brand, and the collaborative
With everyone crying out for a more transparent, easier way of doing business together, there’s a huge opportunity for brands.
We’re moving away from the traditional, defensive ‘elbows out’ approach to business, towards something more open and welcoming.
Brands are less threatened by this sort of collaboration and are beginning to understand the strategic imperative of doing things together.
Partnerships are the more emotionally intelligent younger sibling of sponsorships. A lot of it comes down to the language involved and the way it makes you feel.
The term ‘partnership’ is far more collegiate than ‘sponsorship’ which sounds more commercial, more transactional.
For further evidence of growth, take a look at your LinkedIn, the number of partnerships job titles has dramatically increased.
There are always challenges to be overcome when covering new ground. From a logistical point of view, effectively getting brands to work together for the greater good is not always as easy as it sounds.
There’s every chance you’ll come up against some cliched relationship issues: one-sided commitment, resistance to compromise and disillusion – the list goes on.
These relationships might be even more difficult to manage while everyone works from home.
But it doesn’t mean there’s no long-term potential for an authentic and real partnership once these challenges are overcome.
It’s time to lay out some ground rules for success.
Don’t get left behind
As with any true partnership, mutual benefit is key. It’s not a partnership if it’s one-sided.
Defining what a partnership means for your brand and having your objectives clear from the outset is crucial.
Once you’ve done this you should be able to check in with yourself and ensure that you’re really looking for partnership or whether you’d be better off pursuing something else.
When in conversations with other likeminded brands, ask yourself what are we prepared to compromise on? What is the value exchange? Does it feel fair?
These questions will help pave the way for successful partnerships.
Sourcing and implementing technology to facilitate and deliver efficiencies is also crucial.
Find a tech partner that facilitates the transparency, fairness and authenticity that you’re looking for whilst ensuring everyone gets mutual benefit.
There’s no sign of the partnerships boom quietening down any time soon.
But as with any emerging trend it is set to mature and solidify, evolving to better meet the expectations of consumers and businesses alike.
Via The Influence Room’s brand to brand partnership tool that launched at the end of 2019, we help connect likeminded brands, ones that share ambitions and values to create real partnerships that offer mutual benefit.
It’s a value exchange platform where brands can trade in whatever influence they have.
We have already seen the demand for transparency, real advocacy, greater truth and integrity in partnerships grow.
The reality is, we’re seeing more and more businesses want to build real, personal, mutual relationships that are not dictated by a commercial obligation.
Whilst commercial gain is important, the future is personal, collaborative and reciprocal.