Like peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, some things are just better together.

It’s not just true in sandwiches, it’s true in business as well—especially when it comes to marketing. Brands that can successfully co-market have a leg up over the competition, broadening their reach and leverage.

Wait—what is co-marketing? And what does it have to do with fluffernutter? 

Co-marketing is when two or more brands get together to do a simultaneous promotion. It’s different from co-branding in that co-branding usually focuses on a single product or product line and starts at the initial stages of product development. At the same time, co-marketing is more about promoting the overall brands across multiple channels. For example, in 2016, camera makers GoPro and energy drink Red Bull teamed up for a global co-marketing partnership that involves content production, distribution, cross-promotion, and product innovation. As part of the deal, Red Bull received equity in GoPro, and GoPro was the exclusive provider of POV camera technology with access to Red Bull’s 1800+ annual events. A win-win all around.

And it doesn’t have anything to do with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, besides the fact that both a co-marketing and fluffernutter sandwiches are delicious.

Well, that’s great, but why should I co-market with another brand?

I’m so glad you asked. There are numerous benefits to co-marketing, including:

  • Broadening your reach: When you co-market with another brand, your brand and products reach a whole new audience, as well as your own. Plus, you’re saving money. Reaching out to a new audience can be cost-prohibitive for some brands, but if you’ve partnered with another brand, that audience is more easily accessible to you without dropping a lot of cash.
  • Bettering your reputation: You may have a loyal following and reputable products, but a solid co-marketing partnership can help foster an even better reputation. If your co-marketing partner’s audience views their brand as top-level in their category, then the logical thinking is that your brand must be too, if they’ve decided to partner with you.
  • Giving you the chance to try something new: Co-marketing can shake you out of your marketing doldrums. The brand you co-market with probably (hopefully) will be different than your own. And that’s a good thing because it means you have the chance to try out new avenues of marketing you may not have wanted to risk before, but given your partnership, now make sense.

Okay, I’m sold. Now how do I find an amazing co-marketing partnership?

If I were a betting woman, I’d say if you’re thinking about co-marketing at all, you’ve probably already got an idea of a few brands you wouldn’t mind partnering with. And that’s a great place to start. Follow up those thoughts with a thorough evaluation of each of those brands, and any new ones you may encounter during your research. Consider your audience, as well as your potential partner’s audience. Think about what each of you could bring to a co-marketing campaign, and why a partnership with you would benefit them and vice versa. What do you want to get out of this co-marketing campaign? What does this brand have that you don’t? Does it make sense to partner with this brand?

Understanding the answers to these questions will help you better determine which brand will best launch a co-marketing campaign. You want them to be a reliable partner, and you want to be a solid partner for them in return. The peanut butter to their marshmallow fluff, if you will.  

What is this fascination you have with fluffernutter?

Have you never tried it? It’s one of the world’s best inventions. Ask any eight-year-old. Or me.

I’m really more of an Oreos and milk person.

Well then you, my friend, are a beneficiary of a perfect example of a classic co-marketing partnership.

Snacks aside, how do I even approach a brand about a co-marketing partnership?

With a quick and preferably snappy pitch. As you well know, brands are busy, well, branding themselves, and you’ve got to cut through the noise for them to hear you. When you contact a brand you’re interested in, get their attention and get to the point. Tell them who you are and why you want to partner with them, and provide them the materials they would need to help make their decision, like a digital sell sheet that lists all of your relevant information.

And then what?

Then you make some beautiful content together. 

Errmm….Could you be more specific?

Always. Co-marketing content could really be anything that you and your marketing partner agree upon, whether that’s creating blog content for each others’ websites, or doing a live event together, like a trade show or store tasting, or a social media takeover of each others’ Instagram or Facebook pages. For example, Nadamoo, an allergy-friendly frozen dessert, did a co-marketing partnership with Enjoy Life foods via Instrgram, pairing their classic peppermint bark ice cream with Enjoy Life’s peppermint bark brownie cookies. (Because peppermint and chocolate–while no peanut butter and marshmallow fluff–is delicious, amirite?) And women’s health brand Rael did an Instagram contest, giving away goodies for the health-conscious consumer, with active clothing lines Onzie and TIEM Athletic. It’s all about what type of content fits best for your two brands. 

How will I know if my co-marketing partnership is successful?

There are a few ways to tell, so pick your favorite.

  1. Number of leads generated: Are new outlets, like c-stores or new e-tailers, in which to sell your product now knocking at your door? Are retail buyers contacting you? These are some of the leads that could be generated by a co-marketing campaign, and having a detailed strategy before you launch will help you know the target you want to reach.
  2. Ease of partnership: If working with your co-marketing partner was like a dream come true, that’s a strong measure that it was a successful campaign. If it was more like pulling teeth, well…you may have gained some visibility or leads, but maybe it wasn’t worth the time and effort you put into it to continue the partnership.
  3. Takeaways learned: One of the benefits of co-marketing, as mentioned earlier, is that it gives you a chance to expand your repertoire of content. In working with another brand, you may have the opportunity to develop content that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible, and now that you know how to do it, you can employ those skills in other marketing campaigns in the future. You probably also picked up a few tricks of the trade, whether it’s how to develop engaging communications, how to pitch yourself successfully, or even knowing when to bend, because an idea your partner had does, in fact, work better than the one you had.

Sounds like co-marketing could be really great for my brand.

It really can be a gem of a strategy, but the key is finding the right partner. It just wouldn’t be the same if peanut butter had partnered with, say, olives. Or ketchup. With marshmallow fluff, it’s a strategic partnership made in sandwich heaven.

Stop already with the fluffernutter talk.

Never.

co-marketing brand partnerships

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