Partnership Marketing Customer Acquisition & Growth
November 28, 2023

10 Best Practices for Creating a Partnership Marketing Strategy

A formal partner management strategy is absent in more than 39% of enterprises. Many who have attempted to put partnership marketing into practice struggle to get over its challenges and sustain partner relationships.

This article will help you along the way by examining the fundamental and more advanced components of a partnership marketing strategy.


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Brand Partnerships continue to act as a crucial pathway to business growth. Your pool of prospective customers will grow if you collaborate with a strategic partner. These brand partners often cater to a section of your target audience that you haven't yet reached. The reputation and trustworthiness a partner brand has with its audience also rub off on your company.

The best alliances provide extra value to your customer base and increase brand awareness among new potential customers. How does this work? You introduce customers to a high-quality brand partner that provides relevant products and services that they need.

Affiliate marketing, loyalty marketing, and cross market promotion are several cooperative marketing initiatives that all fall under the umbrella of partnership marketing. By carefully picking your partners and deploying the right partnership marketing strategy, you create a growth-driven, mutually beneficial alliance.


The Partnership Challenge for Businesses 

Despite the benefits, businesses have a difficult time identifying the best way to approach partner relationships. The task of choosing the ideal marketing partners can be a daunting prospect. Then, once selected, how do you manage all of your partners while putting your partnership marketing strategy into practice?

Answering these questions can be difficult, especially given the wide variety of partnership marketing models and approaches available. To guide you, we've included all you need to know about strategising for partnership marketing and how to use it to your advantage.

But first, let's discuss what partnership marketing entails and why having a strategy is crucial. Then we'll cover how to create strategic partnerships.



What is Partnership Marketing?

An alliance between two or more businesses that benefits all parties and aids in the achievement of their marketing and business goals is known as partnership marketing (or brand partnerships). These goals cover everything from lead generation, sales, and company expansion to better brand awareness, credibility, and recognition.

Partnerships can be between two or more businesses, between one individual and a marketing agency, or between two individuals. Partnership marketing comes in several shapes and sizes, and each one would suit a business or situation quite differently from the others.

Some of the most well-known marketing collaborations involve loyalty programmes and affiliate marketing.

  • Loyalty programmes leverage the power of brand partner products and services offered as rewards for customers who show loyalty to your brand via repeat business. 

  • Affiliate partners advertise your brand to their audience in exchange for commissions on sales or leads generated.

The primary aim or objective of partnership marketing is for two organisations to work together in a strategic marketing partnership that is mutually beneficial and aids in the achievement of each party's goals.

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Why Do You Need a Partnership Marketing Strategy?

You must, of course, deploy a carefully considered strategy if you want your alliances to succeed.

Marketing through partnerships has several benefits. By combining your efforts, you can attract more customers and raise the profile of your company. You must, however, deploy a carefully planned strategy if you want your alliances to succeed.

A partnership marketing strategy aligns partnership goals with wider business objectives. Your strategy provides the blueprint, guidance, and focus to give your partnership programmes the best chance of success.

The good news is that marketing partnerships are effective for all kinds of businesses. Whether you're a startup trying to get into your market or a recognised expert in your industry, it makes no difference.

With careful application, you can reap the many benefits of brand partnerships, such as:

  • Increased exposure – through partnership marketing, you can advertise your goods and services to new markets and boost sales.

  • Enhanced brand reputation – by working with reputable companies, you win the patronage of their clients. This exposure to a new audience improves the public perception of your brand, which enhances your reputation.

  • Reduced marketing expenses – advertising costs can be reduced through partnership marketing. Given your access to more direct and efficient forms of promotion, and rising costs of PPC advertising, partnership marketing extends the marketing budget.

  • Better customer experience - by collaborating with other brands, you can make use of their expertise, resources, and experience while giving your customers extra value. As a result, you should be able to provide better service and a better customer experience.

Let's explore some partnership marketing best practices now that the advantages are clear.


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How to Build a Successful Partnership Marketing Strategy

1) Set clear, mutually beneficial objectives

Outline what your brand hopes to accomplish through any potential brand partnerships before you start looking for a partner. The type of partnership marketing that will be most advantageous for you will depend on your goals. Your choice of partner and relationship engagement will also have a significant impact on your ability to produce results.

Once you have established the partnership, monitor its progress towards accomplishing these objectives. This helps you determine what needs to change or improve.

2) Choose the right brand partner

Take your time when choosing the ideal partners to work with when you decide to try partnership marketing; it will make a huge difference to your experience and the outcome.

Select business partners who share your brand's values and offer products or services that are relevant to your audience. Create long-lasting connections with partners who complement your products and target market and who share your moral and ethical principles.

Make careful choices when selecting your partners because their values and reputation will reflect on your business.

Not all businesses will make good partners, regardless of their size.


3) Identify the target audience 

Study the demographics, preferences, and behaviours of the target audience shared between all partners. This helps in tailoring marketing messages and creating campaigns that resonate with the target audience. Consumers are more likely to respond positively when they feel that a brand understands and addresses their specific concerns. 

Partners can also work together more effectively when they understand the needs of their target audience. It helps you direct your marketing efforts to the people who are most likely to be interested in the products or services on offer.

This focused strategy improves the overall efficacy of the marketing campaigns while also optimising the allocation of resources. 

4) Choose the right type of partnership

Your long-term business objectives will determine the type of partnership marketing that is best for you. Only when you have a clear understanding of your goals can you decide on the best plan of action to attain them. You must pick a partnership type that enables you to achieve your objectives.

Not every partnership marketing strategy will work for every business.

The key to success is to carefully examine your company's needs and select the option that best meets those demands.

Here are some types of partnerships you should be looking at:

Barter exchange

Bartering in partnership marketing refers to the non-cash exchange of goods and services between partners. This kind of collaboration broadens the market for your goods and increases consumer confidence in your company.

Bartering can be a great option for small businesses with tight cash flows. Through these links, you can broaden your audience and expose your brand in a way that is more powerful, credible, and memorable.

Affiliate programmes

Affiliate marketing is the practice of promoting your brand on affiliate websites in return for commissions. According to the affiliate partnership contract with the advertiser, an affiliate receives compensation based on agreed-upon criteria. Several models base their calculations on the leads, impressions, or clicks that the affiliate advertisement generates.

This system of partnership marketing commonly works through a third-party network like Awin. Through the network's external portal, both publishers and advertisers can enter a mutually beneficial alliance that delivers results.

5) Define relevant partner rewards and promotions

Offering relevant brand partner rewards gives added value to your mutual audience. For example, gyms could offer their members deals on health supplements from carefully selected partners. These partners could be meal kit delivery services or tech brands offering fitness-related devices.

By doing this, you can showcase your alliance in a way that enhances each brand's visibility. It ultimately gives an already-existing product or service a fresh perspective.


6) Launch joint marketing campaigns

Partnership strategies that include joint marketing campaigns leverage each partner's strengths to create effective campaigns. This collaboration often involves co-branded content, events, or advertising. 

The key is to use each partner's unique skills to create a campaign that resonates with the target audience. For example, co-branded content lets partners present a unified brand identity for a stronger marketing message. 

Collaborative events and advertising not only increase exposure but also boost credibility by linking trusted brands together.

These joint marketing campaigns maximise partnership impact by aligning goals and resources to benefit both parties.


7) Establish cross-promotional strategies

One goal of cross-promotional strategies is to get each partner's audience to see what the other has to offer. Partners will often exchange promotional materials, feature each other in newsletters, and collaborate on webinars. 

The goal is to introduce complementary products or services to both partners' existing customers. This strategy increases each partner's reach and builds trust among shared audiences. 

Cross-promotion works best when the products or services work well together, making it easy for customers to switch between partners.

These strategies boost visibility, customer engagement, and partnership impact through a mutually beneficial exchange.

8) Create a communication and collaboration plan

A well-structured communication and collaboration plan is crucial for the success of any partnership marketing initiative. This plan acts as the blueprint for seamless interaction between partners, ensuring clarity, efficiency, and mutual understanding throughout the collaboration. 

Clearly define roles and responsibilities to avoid misunderstandings and ensure efficient cooperation. This includes specifying who is responsible for tasks, deliverables, and deadlines.

Clarity in roles minimises confusion and ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding their contributions to the partnership.

Other key features of this plan include:

  • Set up the partnership's main communication channels. This could be email, project management tools, or video conferencing tools, among others. Using designated channels simplifies communication and information sharing.

  • Determine the frequency and format of updates and progress reports. All partners must communicate regularly to stay informed about the collaboration. 

  • Establish a protocol for resolving collaboration issues. Set clear resolution steps, identify who is responsible, and establish a timeline. Taking this precaution prevents misunderstandings.



9) Use technology 

A marketing partnership programme must use the appropriate platform to operate and scale customer-relevant programmes, generate campaign reports, and monitor programme progress.

Identifying the source of leads generated is also essential, especially in partnerships with revenue or prospect-sharing contracts.

If there is sufficient technical support, partnership marketing can be a powerful substitute for conventional marketing channels. With the aid of the right tech platform, you can escape the difficulties of completing tasks manually, giving you more time to concentrate on your strategy.

Programme reporting is crucial, and this cannot be understated. Reporting enables you to determine what is effective and ineffective. This is important for removing inefficient offer placements and promoting marketing that is specifically aimed at a certain group of people. You can tailor offers for particular client groups based on their behaviour or level of interest in deals and offers.

The following advantages are also available through technology platforms for your partner programmes:

  • Fast onboarding of partners

  • Relieves pressure on conventional channels, such as email, social media and mail

  • Allows for substantially more brand partners to be added at any given moment and    provides a relevant partner network at a moment's notice

  • Allows for substantially more brand partners to be added at any given moment and    provides a relevant partner network at a moment's notice

Digitised programmes provide excellent market exposure for all partners, offering equal value in a mutually beneficial system.

10) Measure programme performance and KPIs

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not having well-defined plans and methods to evaluate success in partnerships.

It's crucial to identify your goals and measure programme success as closely and precisely as you can. Once you and your partner have settled on specific goals for the number of conversions or leads, compile a list of objectives or partnership KPIs (key performance indicators) that can be used to gauge the success of the partnership programme.

Make sure your goals are measurable and that you have specified how often and for how long you will track your progress.


Key Takeaways

  • Why Do You Need a Partnership Marketing Strategy?

    • A partnership marketing strategy aligns partnership goals with wider business objectives. Your strategy guides and focuses your partnership programmes for success.

  • How to Build a Successful Partnership Marketing Strategy
    • Set clear, mutually beneficial objectives
    • Identify the target audience
    • Choose the right type of partnership
    • Barter exchange
    • Affiliate marketing
    • Define relevant partner rewards and promotions
    • Launch joint marketing campaigns
    • Establish cross-promotional strategies
    • Create a communication and collaboration plan
    • Use technology
    • Measure programme performance and KPIs

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Formulate Your Brand Partnership Strategy and Execute a Programme With the Help of Our Playbook

Making the decision to take the partnership road can completely transform your business, but it does include some important choices.

Carefully defining your marketing partnership strategy is just one of many important decisions you must make.

To get started on the right track, download our Partner Marketing Playbook: How to Build a Successful Partnership Marketing Programme for a detailed look at how to design the ideal partnership marketing campaign.


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