The benefits to brands in teaming up to share everything from consumers to media, content, costs and even brand equity are more compelling now than ever, given the current economic
Whether you're a snack food brand partnering with video games to capture the elusive young male market, a marketer of frozen dinners looking to add value with a
Hollywood tie-in, or a hot dog brand seeking to partner with mustard and rolls for a smart in-store merchandising event, never before have there been so many reasons for marketers to search for
synergy. But before you get hitched, here is a "Guide to Brand Dating":
- Know what you want from your new relationship. While there are typically substantial cost savings
bartered through partnerships, "cost savings" should never ever be your only objective. But hooking up with the right partner does have its benefits. For instance, if your new
partner offers a consumer profile similar to yours, what's it worth to reach that audience? Linking with like-minded partners can also help you extend, expand or authenticate a marketing campaign.
You can add value by giving your consumers special offers on partner products, or conversely, give consumers of another product an incentive to try yours. Want to create new usage occasions for your
product? Drive retail excitement and merchandising support? Draw attention to key product benefits or attributes? Done right, partnership marketing can accomplish these and other incredible things in
some very interesting ways.
- What makes you a great catch? Your partner will want to know, "what's in it for me?" So be prepared to let them know up front what you
bring to the party, and be realistic with your asset valuation estimates. Can you provide exposure, access to your consumers or database, free or special offers on your product, cross merchandising
opportunities, new distribution, sweepstakes prizing, exclusive content, or maybe something else beneficial?
- Get to know your partner. Try to learn about your partner's
positioning: demographics, distribution, pricing, lead times, purchase frequency and other key attributes ahead of time. Accomplish this through research, networking and good, old-fashioned
- Explore the possibilities. Determine how you can fully integrate across your partner's advertising, promotion, in-store initiatives, packaging, distribution and
more. But don't just cherry-pick tactics. Get creative and build a plan for the integration by developing "bridge concepts" to help both sides of the table better understand the kind of
magic that can happen when the right partners get together. Bridge concepts seamlessly combine brands -- like ingredients in a recipe -- to create unique, strategically impactful marketing programs
specific to the objectives and properties of the participating partners.
- Take it slow. Like the start of any good relationship, courtship counts. The partnership marketing process
takes time to nurture. Try to move too fast, and you might end up alone.
- Find hidden baggage. Every partnership has its unique share of potential partnership pitfalls, but spotting
them in advance can minimize the risks. Common lookouts can include lead times, planning cycles, launch or release date shifts, channel conflicts, unrealistic asset valuation and more.
- Monogamy rules! If anyone can do what you're doing, then where's the competitive advantage? Mutual exclusivity is essential in order to maintain not only trust, but also
the value proposition for any partnership.
Recently, Bally Total Fitness and Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas created a partnership in which the value was greater than
the sum of the parts. Bally got the hot, sexy appeal of "Sin City" to credibly drive the "What Happens in Bally" sweepstakes, Treasure Island also contributed exclusive,
money-can't-buy Las Vegas vacation experiences.
Savvy marketers can open up new worlds of opportunity and produce an incredible ROI through partnership marketing. They can also have
tremendously pleasant and personally rewarding experiences by establishing new brand relationships. So, if you're intrigued by the possibilities, put on your dancing shoes ... and make your move!