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They say “one is the loneliest number,” and a rundown of some current marketing campaigns has me inclined to agree. At first glance, partnership marketing seems like a win-win: smart brands can piggy-back on one another to gain exposure and build business; pool marketing resources; extend their reach with complimentary products; and gain a competitive edge. Talking with my Vertical Marketing Network coworker Danielle Conte, though, revealed that building a successful partnership is not as easy as it looks. Like any good relationship, successful partnership marketing requires plenty of hard work and flexibility. What looks flawless and shiny on the consumer end is the result of vast amounts of time spent by smart brands and agencies negotiating the needs of all parties involved and being creative to get those results. Simply put: while partnership marketing may not be easy, when done right, it is oh so worth it. Which begs the question: “Why go it alone?”
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like knowing what works for your brand or business and being able to maintain your identity while going with the flow is a sure way to make a lasting impression to businesses and consumers. Flexibility isn’t just the key to individual success, but it’s the secret to successful partnerships, as well.
Great partnerships in a variety of shapes and sizes abound. Consider the seasonally relevant product lines from Kiehl’s and modern artist Jeff Koons, which has art and beauty junkies talking and of which 100 percent of the proceeds will go to charity. Or, the fan boy’s dream: the 2011 Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: Special Ops Edition, which saw Chrysler partnering with Activision to create a special edition SUV inspired by the popular video game. Both were released in November, just in time for the holidays. Vertical Marketing Network’s partnership for client Codemasters reached the targeted male consumers for the racing video game FUEL by establishing brand connections with demographically aligned businesses such as Alienware, Boomchair, MTV Radio Networks, Oberto and Yamaha. Using a variety of methods — from window clings and tent cards in Yamaha dealerships nationwide to in-dealer signage and online media on top gaming sites; grocery and mass channels displays; mail-in rebates; and game specific FUEL audio sounds, screen shots and video downloads featured online — Vertical Marketing Network promoted a national sweepstakes that drew 300,000 entries in three months, an adrenaline-charged success for all brands involved! None of this, though, would have been possible without considering the following tips:
1. Define Success — Know your brand’s definition of a successful marketing campaign. This is your starting point, and will guide you on the road ahead. Who do you want to reach? Media? Prizing? Find a partner who will help you achieve your goals.
2. Remain Open — Knowing where your brand stands is only half of the equation. Since partnerships involve two or more brands, you have to be ready to bend and negotiate.
3. Stick To Your Guns — It’s rare to have connections in every industry your brand is tempting to go after. Getting to the right person who can make the decision takes perseverance, and sometimes the timing just doesn’t work out. That in no way signals the end of the affair. Keep at it.
Blogging Out Loud will return on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011.
Until then, happy holidays and happy new year.