Creating the Perfect Blend – partnership marketing

Teaming up
Teaming up

The IPM (Institute of Promotional Marketing) organised the Partnership Marketing conference to explore the wide variety of different brand partnerships being explored in the marketplace, looking at how two likeminded organisations can come together effectively for mutual benefit, with some presentations from leading lights in the industry. The IPM acts as the voice of promotional marketing, with the mission to protect, promote and progress effective promotional marketing across all media channels, helping create confident and informed marketers.

Creating the Perfect Blend – partnership marketing

At IPM's ‘Creating the Perfect Blend’ conference in Euston, London, partnership marketing was defined in a white paper by Mediator simply as ‘brands working together to reach new audiences through mutually beneficial campaigns’.

The paper argues that the industry must be hugely dynamic to keep pace with evolving trends, industries, consumers and technology. It claims that the majority of respondents would value long-term strategic partnerships over short-term high-impact campaigns, though it is generally acknowledged that they have their potential.

“For me partnership marketing is forging strategic relationships with partners, where we believe we will have a good brand fit, and I mean a fit that will actually have a product or service that will meet the needs of our core customers. It’s not about ‘we want this, we’ll pay for that,’ it’s about working in true collaboration to come up with a solution that meets our needs and those of our customers,” – head of In-Life Management, Telecommunications.

Ciara Godley, Business Development Manager, Comic Relief – Best practice, activation of brand partnerships: How to get it right

What makes partnerships great? You’ve got to have the right ingredients, clear objectives and time to plan ahead. You need great relationships across the entire team, everybody that’s involved has to be respectful of each other. You also need to be constantly evaluating progress and be able to show that these business partnerships work.

The right ingredients –

  • Target markets
  • Brand positioning
  • Tone of voice
  • Brand reputation
  • Marketing capability

Brand reputation is incredibly important – Comic Relief has a huge level of awareness and trust in the UK, and before partnering another brand it must vet them carefully and ensure the partnership would not damage its reputation.

Objectives –

Both parties must be clear from the offset what the goals of the partnership are. It must be a win-win situation. Sainsbury’s has been working with Comic Relief for years and outside of the BBC it’s the largest partnership. It works really well for both organisations – they’ve raised a huge amount, and have exclusivity on red noses, giving them huge footfall in the lead up to Red Nose Day.

There are commercial and marketing benefits – 54% say they would feel more positive towards a brand that supports Comic Relief, and many say they would feel more inclined to purchase a product they otherwise might not have done.

The core thing to remember it is a partnership and you have to work to achieve both of your objectives – work together!

Evaluation –

This is the boring bit, but it’s critical. Without it, partnerships just won’t work – you need clear objectives and you need to be able to show that you can achieve them for your partners to encourage future deals.

Fiona Thornton, Partnerships Director, Live Nation – How true partnerships work for the consumer and the brands involved

Millenials are the heartland of Live Nation – they are passionate about music and fashion.

Festivals are key – the highlight of a young person’s summer social calendar. 65% of the 18-34 year olds in a survey were driving the experience economy through buying real-life experiences versus possessions.

Live Nation teamed up with New Look to target the festival demographic and promote the menswear line. Competitions were set up to drive traffic to sites, and analytics were set up to see how all of this drove transactions on the online shop.

At the New Look Wireless festival they set up a New Look shop for festival goers that had forgotten key items like ponchos and sunglasses, and it was incredibly successful.

Both parties thought the partnership was successful and there was a clear vision and brand alignment. Having KPIs and knowing how to measure success, and what success should look like, is crucial.

What are the challenges for partnership marketing?

Mediator’s white paper outlines some surprising statistics – the vast majority of respondents to the survey (80%) believe that partnership marketing has a high ROI and 86% agree that is it effective. However, there are increasing pressures on budgets, so it is ever more important to measure effectiveness and prove this ROI.

Traditionally brands recorded viewing/listening figures, but while this proves exposure to advertising it does not necessarily result in increased sales.

The solution suggested in the white paper is that partners agree clear objectives and KPIs from the start, and respondents suggest different methods of measuring them such as research, brand tracking to track shifts in perceptions, or direct measurements with digital or sales data. Digital can be useful as it makes partnership marketing accountable for its efforts.

“I think businesses definitely want to know what the return on investment is, so there needs to be infrastructure to be able to report on that, whether that be brand affinity measures or people physically taking up a reward or opting into something.” – Partnership and Event Controller, Media.

Tanya Easterman, Senior Relationships Manager, Cinema First – creating blockbuster partnerships

Finding the perfect partner…the evolution from Orange Wednesday to Meerkat Movies. Orange Wednesdays is iconic, puts Orange firmly in the hearts and minds of the UK public. It created huge amounts of goodwill.

Distinctive, relevant and compelling – the key attributes of this deal.

Over 11 years there had been a move away from partnership to sponsorship, there was a disconnect in business objectives as Orange rebranded to EE with a greater focus on connectivity and 4G capability. There was a lack of evolution and investment in marketing declined over time – all of this lead to the end of the Orange Wednesdays deal, regardless of how iconic it had been in its time.

In a new partner, Cinema First was looking for:

  • A genuine partnership that promoted the industry and would drive incremental business for all parties
  • Brand fit
  • Shared objectives
  • Innovation of the proposition
  • Investment promoting the experience
  • Long term vision

Compare the Market was the chosen partner and it was decided they were the best fit because their famous meerkat characters could go to the cinema and get out there and do other things.

They had had the toys and moving in to film allowed them to keep their competitive edge and have more frequent conversations with their customers. In this was, the partnership works well for both partners.

Attendance to cinemas is hugely driven by the film slate, promotions like this can be needed to get people out of their living rooms. The Meerkat Movies offers 2 for 1 cinema tickets for a whole year on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.