Kevin: Hi, I’m Kevin Danaher.
Danette: And I’m Danette Gossett. Today we are going to continue our discussion about partner marketing. In the last three segments we talked about why you should create strategic partnerships, how to uncover what you can offer a partner and then the types of strategic partnerships. So, today what are we going to be talking about?
Kevin: We’re going to be talking about monetizing your opportunities.
Danette: That’s the whole point of this right? We all want to make money. How do we monetize?
Kevin: So, to monetize you really have to think about selling so with any marketing campaign you always start with the objective or the goal. Before you even start searching for partners, you have to be thinking about what your end game is, expanding your database, or improving your product features. If there’s a goal go for it.
Danette: Absolutely, and that’s what we kind of want to explore a little bit more today. Let’s talk about the first step when you are putting together a partnership that you want to make sure that everybody is on the same page so to speak. Basically all your materials that you might be getting out the offer or the program to the public. So, what are the steps that need to be taken for that?
Kevin: Before we do that, let’s take a step back and talk about the four categories I’m going to talk about in this discussion. So, that would be create sales materials, how to make it attractive to your customers, the sales materials. The sales materials aren’t only printed pieces they are also your online presence. Working as mutual partners so you can share the risks and the rewards and creating new products and market segments. So, from there the first part is creating your sales materials. The thing I would recommend is you want to have effective joint marketing materials with your partner. You want to be able to determine your objective and goal and leverage your partner benefits. The joint attributes that you can put together to come up with something new and improved or special and unique.
Danette: What types of things might people do to leverage your benefits, when you’re looking at something are you talking about having, I’ve got something on the left and you’ve got something on the right. I mean, what types of.
Kevin: For example, in the food and wine festival that I talked about, it was a nonprofit organization and we put together a cause related marketing campaign. Now, a lot of companies want to support that cause so the first step is to find companies that are already supporting that cause and see if there’s a fit to work together. We did that, we found a company that was a fit their goal was to go after the upscale market. Now, they have two attributes to our one, and we expanded from there.
Danette: So, what else when you are creating your materials do you want to make sure that you want to do?
Kevin: Well you want to leverage your partner benefits so whatever those attributes are you want to use them to your best advantage. If you can come up with a new line, or a new tagline that puts it all together so that you can exceed the competition and come up with a sales promotion offer that leverages both of those. So you could use a sweepstakes, a coupon offers. One thing we always talk about around the fourth of July is you could buy hotdogs and get a discount on buns, so that’s leveraging a partnership opportunity. The next thing is all companies have corporate standards for their logo’s for their copy of how they position their brand. You want to make sure that everyone is on the table what their corporate stands are, what they expect out of the relationship and how they want their logo to look what the placement is and legal approval. You want to get that on the table up front because, if it’s in the approval process it usually kills the deal.
Danette: Right, that is true. Also you have to make sure that if your logo is typically blue and they don’t allow blue in any of their materials there could be a problem before you even get started, so you put everything on the table up front and make sure everybody’s in line with what you are trying to achieve so that everybody’s corporate standards because you want your brand identity to remain intact even when you are doing a strategic partnership. You don’t want yours to be necessarily bigger than yours or you don’t want your style of your logo to be jeopardized over theirs, everybody has to be on the same playing field.
Kevin: When it comes to putting partnerships together I often think, don’t sweat the details, but when it comes to the approval process it’s hard to bring it together. So, getting that on the table up front it’s a good thing. The next thing is to be specific with your message. When you have two different partners working together generally the brand message might be totally different. Now to come up with a new message that is specific and to the point is a very hard thing. If you’re a small business it might be easier but if you are a corporation with different departments and legal procedures that’s the thing, so be very specific and always keep it simple.
Danette: I’ve always found in most programs it’s easier to do that, it’s not always easier to keep it simple but, it’s the best course of action. So many times you will come across a partnership program or any promotional program sometimes that it’s too complicated, and if it gets too complicated then consumers aren’t going to take advantage of it because they can’t figure out exactly what it is the offer is. So, try and keep it simple.
Kevin: Remember when we worked together, we used to come up with great products and then we would go to legal and legal would add paragraphs of terms and conditions and sometimes we would even kill offers because it didn’t make any sense. How to approach the sale, or how to make it more attractive to the customers. Many times when I start with a partnership I have the luxury of being able to test it. To test the waters on a small scale. If you are going to be investing a lot of money into a strategic partnership and it doesn’t work you might be closed to doing it again, or people in your organization might be closed off to the opportunity. So, if you can test small things with small segments of customers that’s the best way to do it.
Danette: Absolutely, we talked about this before in that not necessarily testing it, yes you can test it online that’s a great way to do it because the expense of doing that is much less than printed materials. Maybe you are never going to do printed materials and maybe the whole program is going to be online. You can also, I like to call it a grandmother or an in-law survey where you put together your offer and your strategic partnership all the elements that you would put out to your consumer or another businesses and you put it against your friends and family and say if you saw this what would be your take away. That’s an inexpensive way to get an honest opinion. That will give you those tidbits of information where you can tweak your message a little bit more. Either they didn’t get it at all maybe you were too cute, maybe you didn’t keep it simple stupid if you take a look at that maybe you can tweak the offer. Kevin you have talked about it before where you will do a test and there’s one element that comes out a big winner vs. two or three other elements that didn’t really resignate. So you take that one winning element and you add a couple of new things to it and the next thing you know you’ve got just a phenomenal strategic partnership.
Kevin: I have found in marketing that the more you can test the more successful you will be because there’s always that emotional appeal that you never really expected to happen. I once did a direct mail program where we would set up 20 different test sells with each mailing that we did. The mailing got better and better over time because we found out what customers were really motivated by. So, even if you had a website you can do a split test where half the audience sees one thing and the other half sees another and you can see what their response is.
Danette: Big opportunity there to make your strategic partnership even better if you start off with a test.
Kevin: The next thing I always work with is what is the range of opportunities that each partner can bring to the table? Many times people will just say, let’s share a customer database or let’s share ad space or something like that. Once you start working with people and you really start brainstorming you’ll find all kind of things that are available through both partner’s channels.
Danette: We talked earlier about channels of distribution and that’s where this comes into play. If you understand the partner that you are talking to and their various channels of distribution and you can really look at okay, you already have an ad campaign online and you also have a tv campaign or you’re running a YouTube program or you are a constant on Pinterest or you are running a twitter program and all of a sudden you start going okay we can tag onto each of those programs with our offer or the program that we are trying to put together. If you really look at that up front then you can go wait a minute, what about in store or on your windows at your locations, there’s just so many different opportunities.
Kevin: Another thing that I have done is I have worked with another company that had an ad campaign in popular city news channels so what we did was we just combined our buying power and saved a lot of money as partners. So it doesn’t have to be a sales promotion campaign we could just be working together from a financial standpoint.
Danette: Reducing cost is so important in monetizing your partnership because we’re trying to increase profits and one of the ways to increase profits is to lower your costs so that’s a great option.
Kevin: We have also talked about increasing sales, you have to be flexible and to be flexible in each offer that the partner might be buying for their customers. So, if we are partners what my customers want from our partnership might be one thing and what your customers want might be another thing. In the testing you might find other things in the different customer segments. So many times when you come up with a strategic partnership you come up with an offer and that’s the offer for everybody. That may not work for both partners, so being flexible and being open to new opportunities is really what this is all about. From there, we are talking about working as a mutual partner. The best way to work with anybody is as a mutual partner where you can share risks and share rewards and come up with new products and services and ideas. In any sales process if you are just selling somebody an item then that’s one thing, but if you are working as a partner to create an item together then as you know from your business that bring about a whole new opportunity. So, to work as mutual partners you want to improve the offers that you have. One of the reasons that you are a strategic partner is that you want to up the ante or offer more than the competition has to exceed what the market has or expectations. So, working as a partner improving the offers that you have in a strategic partnership is the way to go.
Danette: What you are trying to do in most cases in a strategic partnership is to stand out from your competition and your strategic partner is trying to do the same. So if you have 15 companies in your sphere and everybody is offering the same thing how does the consumer distinguish one from the other. So if you have that strategic partnership where you have that leg up where you are offering your customers something that they really want in combination with what you have to offer. So, it can definitely help improve an offer.
Kevin: That’s sometimes as simple as a licensing agreement like where Avis was the official rent-a-car of the NFL and the NFL logo catches people’s attention. So, right there you have a strategic partnership that inspires sports fans over your competitors. The next thing I would recommend is measuring performance. Many times ill measure my performance and you will measure your performance and that’s not often shared between two companies. Measuring how each offer did and sharing that information uncovers a whole new world of opportunities.
Danette: We may find that the offer that we had for your company was really well received by an older audience and I have an offer that’s being really well received by the millennials now we can say that we can expand in different areas and tweak our offers so definitely share that information. Often times in competition, I find my competition is friendly competition I think there’s enough business out there for everybody and the more we share the more that we can grow so I think that’s one area that if you are putting together a program that you need to have post meetings so you have time to sit and look at who is responding to the offer how much sales you are having and what you can do to improve it.
Kevin: If you approach this use this using project management techniques and really break it down piece by piece it really is very enlightening. Okay, the next thing is leverage everything. I actually get myself into trouble when I do this because when I go into a partnership discussion, I ask what’s available what marketing are you going to give me because its negotiations basically. And I do some research beforehand and I uncover things that my potential partner may be doing that I am interested in. people are sometimes shocked because they just want to go into it with their sponsorship package and their one idea and there’s so much more that exists within a partner company and within my company. Even if I’m small business you mentioned there’s window signs there’s kiosks or if you are an online website there’s all kinds of opportunities there, they could write guest articles.
Danette: Absolutely, they can do back links or click through where you mention them in an article there’s a lot of different things that I think a lot of people over look and leveraging everything if you are writing down anything you need to be writing down leverage everything because everything should be on the table at least in the beginning of the discussion.
Kevin: The final thing is creating new products and customer segments. This is the best part of working with strategic partners because the ultimate goal is to find new customers.
Danette: It’s not always just one strategic partner it could be multiples you could have them all on the same program or you could work with them each individually on different programs. So, as you are looking at your strategic partnership you need to really look at the types of companies that maybe you could partner with and maybe they can’t partner on that program but they will partner on this program. So, it’s really great and being able to create these different segments you can say okay this partner is going to grow my millennials segment and this partner is going to grow my luxury segment and this partner is going to grow my venture segment. So, really you can have them individually or all combined.
Kevin: Right, right, One thing I always say is you can learn a lot from strategic partners that food and wine example we worked with the state the division of tourism and they gave us a grant, it’s sort of like a partnership, it’s a grant so, I realized the state had made marketing channels and I went to them to see if I could get into their marketing channels and the state plans a year in advance it’s a different type of schedule then I would work on but, for the next year I was able to get into their visitor magazine and many other channels that they had available just because I was aware of them and I asked. What I always try to do is benchmark with the companies that I am trying to work with Avis had worked with universal studios and we made a presentation of our marketing campaign promoting universal studios for them and we were in the tourism business. Universal studios at the time was working with the movie division and we were marketing the theme park like a movie in some ways. So we worked together to change their marketing plan to be more tourism oriented and they changed our plan.
Danette: Looking at the different strategies that different companies use to market their different services and products maybe you can learn another way of doing something. We all have a tendency sometimes to get the blinders on and think that our way is the best way, or the only way we can do something and it’s great to be able to look at what other companies are doing and how they are doing it and you may open a whole new segment for yourself.
Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
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