Co-marketing is a very advantageous marketing strategy that utilizes multiple brands to sell products. So what exactly is Co-marketing? In simplest form co-marketing is a form of partnership between two or more companies where companies jointly market each other’s products. For instance, a mobile phone network provider may partner with a well-known mobile brand to market each other’s products. It’s a general belief that co-marketing works best when two products are related. However, this is can also work out as a great option when the products are not closely related.
Co-marketing can be successfully achieved in various forms through guest blogs, product testimonials, creating infographics, relevant videos, joint advertising, co-sponsoring events, providing freebies of a product sample on the purchase of the other product, joint press meeting and many more.
So is co-marketing same as co-branding? Well, they do seem similar in many aspects. Both are used to increase the sales of all the products which are involved. But co-branding eventually results in the formation of a new product. However, this is not the case with co-marketing. Co-marketing does not really form a new product. This only leverages the positives of the other products to market their own products.
Some of the good reasons to choose co-marketing is-
- You can hit the target audience immediately
- Improves the sales
- Cost-effective solution
- Can leverage the position and reputation of the other brand to your advantage
- People relate more to co-marketing since they can see some benefits while they purchase products
Below are few guideline questions that need to be answered before choosing a brand as a co-marketing partner-
- Do they have a similar set of audience that my company has or wants to grow?
- How many leads am I going to get with this brand?
- Do they have additional expertise that I don’t have?
- Does the brand have a good and successful reputation?
- Are they enjoyable to work with?
- How much will this cost me?
- Does the other brand agree on a common topic and the timelines required for co-marketing?
Types of co-marketing:
Below are listed some broadly classified co-marketing techniques. However, these are not the only co-marketing types. Based on the business, newer and more creative ways can be employed to use co-marketing to reach customers.
Affiliation marketing is a co-marketing technique where websites otherwise known as publishers will promote your product or services in return for some monetary rewards. In this an advertiser and the publisher or affiliate work in collaboration. This is beneficial for both since the primary brand benefits from the promotion of their products resulting in an increase of sales. At the same time, the affiliate benefits from the commission earned per lead or sale.
You can work with affiliates in three ways:
- In-house: This allows you to setup and manages your own affiliate programme. The onus lies on you to build and foster relationships with most appropriate affiliates.
- Networks: This would include a third party where publisher and advertiser register to utilize services through the network’s portal. This has a benefit over in-house technique as this is more cost saving and provides a greater reach to find affiliates.
- Agencies: This option includes working with agencies which manage portfolios of affiliates as well as all operations concerning it.
The affiliates can promote the products using the banner ad, text hyperlinks, promotional page, dedicated article, newsletters, comparison table. There is a list of affiliate partners available online.
Few well-known dedicated affiliate sites are-
- Click Bank – http://www.clickbank.com/
- Affiloroma – https://www.affilorama.com/
- Amazon Associates – https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/
- Commission Junction – http://www.cj.com/
- Solo Build It – http://www.sitesell.com/drivers.html
Few of the top affiliate networks are-
- Rakuten Marketing – https://rakutenmarketing.com/affiliate
- ShareASale – https://www.shareasale.com/
- eBay Partner network – https://partnernetwork.ebay.com/
- Avangate – http://www.avangate.com/
- LinkConnector – https://www.linkconnector.com/
A good example of such affiliate marketing can be seen as part of snapsort.com
The site provides a comparison between two well-known brands and an option to purchase it. Something worth noting is the affiliate website does not have any additional advertisements.
With affiliate co-marketing, the advantage is a lot of the pain of self-research is reduced.
Content marketing is a form of co-marketing to use highly engaging content to find new customers. Content partnerships are the development of such content in collaboration with a partner brand. This can be done in possible two ways-
- Co-creation – Both brands collaborate to work towards creating a common content. This could be market research, product release, industry trends by referring one another’s products to improve popularity.
- Link Sharing – Link sharing means linking to the partner’s site from their own site. This provides better exposure to both the brands.
Content co-marketing can be in various formats such as links, articles, podcasts, videos, infographics, white papers, through social media. This improves both brands chances of getting new customers. There is no hard-coded rule around this, however, a preferable approach is to search for a similar niche company or a company which is more relevant to your brand.
Some of the top example of such co-marketing include-
- The Renewal Project – The Atlantic + AllState (http://www.therenewalproject.com/)
- Defy Hunger Together – The Wall Street + Mini (http://partners.wsj.com/mini/defy-hunger-together/)
- Roots: A cultural force that changed the nation – The NewYork Times + History channel (https://paidpost.nytimes.com/history/roots-a-cultural-force-that-changed-the-nation.html)
This is a strategic partnership, where one brand agrees to cross-market or bundle another partner’s product. This can happen in two ways-
- Bundling – This includes one partner to offer goodies such as promotion within the product, online bundle for a purchase such as buy one get one free, giveaways in the package.
- Cross-Marketing – This is done by marketing both products through a distribution channel. In this rather than including the product within the packaging, the brand offers marketing opportunities to the other brand within the distribution.
This can be done in the form of freebies, discount coupons, vouchers, in-store live demonstration, QR codes.
A good example for this is shown with Coco-Cola and McDonalds:
If you notice, both are not similar brands but are complementary. This is definitely a win-win situation for both brands.
Another example is Dell and Intel co-branding. Both are similar niche products and need each other to survive the market.
A similar example is with Airtel and iPhone. Both are popular brands and use co-marketing to reach out target audience.
4. Charitable or CSR
In such scenarios, a primary brand sponsors or markets itself via a charitable organization or a cause. In turn, they seek exposure and promotion via marketing channels. These are usually for a social cause and this could be part of-
- CSR – This could be part of the corporate social responsibility of the company’s agenda. Provides a wider spread across the market owing to the cause
- Brand leverage – Some brands may specifically like to be associated with a charitable organization due to the benefits it brings to their consumer and public reputation
This can be accomplished in various forms such as public events, sponsorships, news stories, giving a part of the profit earned to the charitable organization.
One such example is when you buy P&G products, some portion is given to a charitable organization called ‘Shiksha’
Another such co-marketing strategy can include providing some additional incentives such as scholarship and free online tutorials. Below Colgate offers Scholarship and Byju’s tutorials.
8. Joint Products
Another heavily used strategy of co-marketing is by defining joint products. Two companies agree to create a new product or alter an existing product to provide additional value-add to the customers. Often this would be an amalgamation of the two products aiming at the mutual target audience.
This requires a lot of market research and a lot of things needs to be taken into consideration by both the brands. This can be classified as-
- Powered by – A partner brand will supply its products or features or services to benefit a new or existing product. This is commonly used in software and technology industry, where one service is being used by another product. A good example of this is mobile phones powered by a technology provider such as Google or Microsoft.
- White Label – Many brands also offer white label solutions. This means selling off their services or leasing their technology for the partner brands. The partner will then use it under its own brand name.
- Product merger – This is where two brands merge and form their own product together. This could be a full or partial merger, where only a certain part of the brand is merged.
This is especially beneficial for both brands and allows both concerned brands to leverage each other’s brand image, reputation, resource, customer loyalty and market reach.
One such good example is the “The Nike & iPod Sports Kit”
This is cost effective since both brands share the advertising and marketing costs. Another notable product is “Microsoft and Nokia”
A common powered by example is when a product uses any specific payment gateway. For instance, below you can see Stripe being used.
This is a business arrangement in which one company gives another company permission to manufacture its products using its brand image for an agreed payment or partnership. These can be done in two ways-
- Selling – In this the brand that decides to license their brands to choose to sell it to their partner for a given price. This allows the other brand to have access to various assets to improve their products or service offerings
- Collaborative – In this, brands decide to get involved in the licensing partnership and actively collaborate with the partner. This has close associations with joint product partnerships where a company may utilize another’s product and brand image to provide an exclusive unique offering.
There are many ways a company who licenses another’s brand can utilize it. After purchasing the right to use their brand they can work on the logo of the other company or brand images such as colors, fonts or reputation or culture or design. This is a quicker and more efficient way to get hooked on a popular brand and this is positive for both brands in general.
One such example is as shown below where a Fintech company PaisaBazaar uses Experian logo in their advertising campaign.
Similarly, Uber carries the logo of Spotify as shown in the below example-
Another such example is Jet Airways app along with Apple app store. This is primarily a Jet Airways advertisement making use of the Apple logo.
This is a retention marketing technique that offers consumers a reward in return for increased usage. A loyalty partnership enhances the typical model by offering consumers partner offers to encourage longevity and purchase frequency.
This can be broadly divided into three categories. Each of this relates to how consumers are loyal to a brand.
- Frequency– In this, a loyalty can be rewarded based on the frequency of customer use; the more a product is bought or a service used the more rewards a consumer receives. A reward can be a partner brand discount; smart brands take this a step further by personalizing, providing an offer in conjunction with a partner brand tailored to the consumer based on their spending patterns or personal profile
- Volume– the alternative is to reward based on amount purchased; where the higher the number bought the larger the reward. Savvy brands provide varying degrees of reward to those that purchase larger amounts, often fully personalizing the offer
- Advocate– the third type is often described as advocacy; where a consumer is so loyal to a brand they will support it and promote it, with this a brand will offer extended rewards. It is a type of loyalty that focuses purely on rewarding those who shout about a brand and even have the power to influence others
This can be carried out in a number of ways such as loyalty club/scheme, loyalty cards/vouchers, One-off reward, free money, gifts, seasonal promotions. All of these offer the possibility for partner brand involvement, mainly by including their discounts or exclusive products within the loyalty program. As a technique it allows two brands to successfully align their proposition with each other utilizing their similar databases to improve customer retention rates.
One such example is as shown below where a popular biscuit company provides Paytm (a digital wallet) coupon.
This could just be a flash sale on any of the products-
Other alternatives include incentives such as cashback as shown below in FirstCry
8. Product Placement
This includes subtle placement of the product within a media channel. It is a combination of sponsorship and advertisement that works in partnership with high grossing TV and film production. This can be done in the below-mentioned
- Subtle placement– This focuses on the inclusion of the brand logo, a background shot of the product, or an elusive hint towards the usage of a product, is found in TV and film scenes.
- Direct advertising– This is a more direct approach. More obvious placement advertising within a media programme, such as a cookery show endorsing a product, is deemed direct.
- Public or celebrity sponsorship – This deals with celebrity endorsements who are encouraged to wear the clothing or use a product. When a brand sends celebrity-free items they are seeking product placement, often through paparazzi photos, social media, and usage in their daily lives.
- Free marketing samples – This involves attaching small samples along with newspapers or magazines. The main intention here is to give people a feel for how the product will be. This is beneficial since it also, in turn, increases the sales of newspaper or magazine
Though this is usually a less used co-marketing strategy, still there is huge market reach one can achieve through this.
A good example of this is as shown below, where CocaCola is pitched in a popular reality show “American Idol”
Similarly, below you can see Nike being placed strategically in a famous movie “Pain and Gain”
9. Shared Stores
This is when a partner provides an agreed space within their own store for the other partner’s brand. The primary brand has rented out, provided or extended their retail outlet to integrate the secondary brand, to provide additional value to their consumers.
Shared stores co-marketing is a growing phenomenon with some of the biggest names teaming up, but this isn’t just reserved for retail outlets, it too can be found online. This can be of the below two types-
- Offline – This is the most common type of co-marketing and refers to the physical world where petrol stations, retail outlets, supermarkets and coffee shops have all been found to merge stores
- Online – This is a relatively new concept but is growing very widely. This is where both brands look to be associated alongside another by combining areas of their websites together through iFraming or creating dedicated sections
Offline shared stores can be further classified as shown below-
Store with a store – This is a form of shared store partnership and provides a section of the primary brand’s retail space for another brand. Below is an example with Cineworld and Starbucks. This adds value to the consumer base by offering an additional proposition to their shopping experience
- Permanent desk- this is where a primary brand provides a permanent desk for a partner brand. Department stores such as Selfridges or John Lewis often provide areas such this in their cosmetics section.
- Promotional stand- occasionally a store will offer some of their space as a promotional stand. This provides a partner brand with an exclusive area dedicated to their product often manned by the brand’s own personnel.
Similarly, online shared stores can be classified as-
- Dedicated tab or page– This includes providing a specific tab or page for a partner brand within the primary brand’s website. This provides a dedicated area for added-value.
- Members area– In this, a member’s area provides exclusive material or content, this is, therefore, a popular area for partner brands to be featured.
- iFraming– This includes displaying a partner’s webpage on your own website. iFraming acts as a window that shows a relevant section of their site.
What’s hugely beneficial about this strategy, particularly offline, is that it places the partner brand physically in front of consumers entering a store. It’s the ideal way to interact, touch and test a partner brand product. By being alongside one another this creates a powerful perception and by sharing retail space it minimizes overall costs, attracts new consumers, and retains existing ones for longer.
Sponsorship based co-marketing is a marketing tactic of placing a brand alongside a particular event, displaying itself as a partner or supporter, with the objective to increase brand recognition and reputation. This is an old form of co-marketing and has been around since the dawn of marketing.
This can be in one of the below-mentioned ways-
- Awareness– The key focus here is aligning a product alongside an event for mass exposure is the most common type of Sponsorship. The aim is to have the largest possible reach of your brand to both existing and new consumers.
- Association– This includes linking the product with a cause, person, or event to provide a brand association in the eyes of the consumer. Every time you think of that event you will tie that in with the sponsored brand too.
- Consumer understanding– Sponsorship can link a brand proposition with an event so that it provides product education to the consumer. Some propositions are more complex than others so sponsorship is seen as an effective way to teach a consumer what the product can offer.
This can typically be a sporting sponsorship, media sponsorship, event sponsorship, charity events, the seal of approval. For decades’ global brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Red Bull and British Airways all pour billions of marketing spend into sponsorships, and the reasons are plentiful. They increase brand reach, increase brand awareness, improves brand trust, change a brand’s value proposition or image, improve product understanding and open up new global or local markets.
An example of such sponsorship can be as seen below where VIVO has partnered for IPL-
Another such example is as shown below-
This completes our different categorization of co-marketing to reach new customers. Before we conclude, let’s take a look at the common jargons used in co-marketing and understand the significance of each of this.
- In partnership with – This is the most popular phrase used to describe association with another brand. This means both primary and secondary brands will benefit and this will ultimately benefit the end consumer.
- Supported by – This is commonly used for charitable partnership. This seems to be like one brand supporting or assisting the other in a campaign. It portrays an element of comfort towards a consumer, showing the cause is backed by a reputable brand.
- Certified by – This provides an authenticity to the partnership. The certified by phrase delivers trust to the consumer that the offering is backed by the supporting brand.
- Incorporating – This generally means ‘together with’. If a major brand is incorporating with another it is referencing the fact that they are providing their services as an add-on or an extra.
- Powered by – This often refers to the presence of a partner brand supplying their services to benefit another product. An example of this is the Nexus phone which is ‘Powered by’ Google. Such a partnership ultimately benefits the consumer with a far superior product utilizing both technologies.
- In association with – This is most commonly used when both brands have an equal role to play in the partnership. The term association means that both brands have agreed on a mutual partnership offering
Finally, to conclude, we have given a detailed walkthrough of the different strategies in co-marketing. Some of these are in the market for years, while the others are techniques which are relatively newer to the market. All of these techniques provide a win-win situation for the brands and have immense potential to reach out existing as well as new customers. The kind of co-marketing that will work out for you, depends on the product, market reach, geographical region and finally innovative techniques.