The better way to sell online

How you can boost your business with co-marketing and co-branding

Do you want to get in front of new customers, create innovative products and engage with fans? Co-marketing could be for you.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

A few years ago, Mexican fast food chain Taco Bell was fast approaching its 50th anniversary. Nervous that its young audience would lose interest, it decided to freshen things up.

The chain had sold billions of regular taco shells and CEO Greg Creed wanted innovation. So he gave his staff a time line and a goal: reinvent the taco shell.

They met with all sorts of people in a bid to come up with the perfect idea, but none of them stuck. Until they met with American company Frito-Lay, which is famous for its Doritos chips. Instead of using a regular corn taco shell, Frito-Lay suggested Taco Bell use a specially made shell. A giant Dorito chip.

It took a few years (and a few recipes) to perfect, but when it was launched, it revolutionized the fast food industry. They called it the Doritos Locos Tacos and they sell over a million every single day.

The magic was that it boosted both the Frito-Lay and Taco Bell names. Now, a whole host of fast food businesses collaborate to create new products

And here’s the best bit: these kind of collaborations aren’t stuck in the world of fast food. You can benefit from them too. It’s called co-marketing, and I’m here to tell you how you can make it work for you, too.

So what’s co-marketing or co-branding?

There's an easy way to tell the two techniques apart. The Doritos Locos Taco was an example of co-branding, because it had two brand names attached to it. It was a completely original product labeled with both the Taco Bell and Frito-Lay names.

Another example of this is when ShopFactory and PayPal combined forces in the late nineties to create ShopFactory Paypal, an eCommerce solution distributed by PayPal to gain market share.

In comparison, co-marketing is when multiple businesses band together to market existing products. For example, imagine two skincare businesses launching a special holiday box. The box could have products from both companies inside it, and both would benefit from sales. One of the reasons they might do so is to introduce their products to the other company’s customers.

For the sake of simplicity I will refer to both techniques as co-marketing in the rest of this article.

The trick to make co-marketing work is to team up with the right partner, so that everyone benefits.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Here’s why you should do it.

When you collaborate with the right people, co-marketing can have a whole host of benefits.

You can save money by pooling resources and access new customer bases. If you do it right you’ll knock the socks off potential buyers, attracting them in ways that are authentic and fun.

The trick to make co-marketing work is to team up with the right partner, so that everyone benefits.
One way of co-marketing is by sending out complimentary samples with each other’s products.

Imagine you bought a new USB cable and received a sample deodorant. You'd be scratching your head, and it's unlikely the deodorant company would make many sales.

But if you bought a skin care product and received the deodorant sample, you would be excited about the freebie. You would be more likely to use it, and you'd be more likely to buy it later on.  That's why it's so important that you pick the right partner, if you want to collaborate.

How do I know if a partner is complementary?

1: You need someone who won’t compete with you or steals wins away from you. Someone who compliments you and your business ideals.

For example, if you’re both selling shoes things might get tense. What happens if one of you starts to be more successful than the other? Especially if you then can’t decide how to split the profits?

 If one of you specializes in socks, however, you’d be a great fit. After all, socks and shoes go like hands in gloves!

Shoes and laptops on the other hand would be a much bigger stretch. You might not have enough in common. And if things don’t work out, you might both end up getting damaged.

You should also make sure your potential partner has the same values and standards as you do.
Imagine the outrage if you sent out samples to your vegetarian customer base, and the next day the CEO of your collaborator announced that he doesn’t like vegetarians!

2: Ideally you and your collaboration partner should have a similar size. If one business is much larger, only the small business might benefit. Your chances of making it work are better if you find someone you can grow with.
Look for a similarly sized customer base, email list, and public reach. The wonder of co-marketing is that both parties get something out of it, so you want the right power balance.

If you are smaller or larger you need to be able to explain why this would be beneficial for both of you.

3: Make sure you are looking for the same results. Does one of you want a bigger email list, and the other more sales? Does one business want their logo on billboards, and the other on flyers?

Different goals make it hard to work together or to judge the success of a campaign. Make sure you have a clear goal and a shared priority.

Think about your partner’s benefits

Just because you like a business as potential partner doesn’t mean they'll like you back. So don’t be disheartened if your approaches don’t work out immediately.

Review their response and think about what you could have done differently. Maybe they were just not interested in collaborating. But maybe you could have made clearer how they would benefit.

If you approach someone you want to collaborate with, you have to know why they’d want to work with you and what they could get out of it. Without that knowledge a rejection is almost preprogrammed.

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