How to Find the Right Partners for Your Partnership Marketing Campaign
Digital & Marketing Strategy

Partnership Marketing: A Quick-Start Guide to Selecting The Perfect Marketing Partner for Your Business

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While many business owners miss out on this opportunity, partnership marketing is one of the best ways to reach new audiences, generate leads, and boost sales.

The proof is in the numbers. Over half of companies say partnerships drive more than 20% of total revenue.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to leverage partnership marketing to build lasting business relationships with individuals and companies that generate lasting results.

What Is Partnership Marketing?

Partnership marketing is a strategic collaboration between two parties. The best part? It can help both reach their objectives.

Both parties often have the same interests‌ — ‌to generate brand awareness, gain new customers, and promote their offerings to a broader audience.

Let’s look at an example. Remember when YUPLAY featured Fortnite’s Spiderman collaboration? It wasn’t just about bringing a popular superhero into the game. It symbolized a strategic alliance that catered to the tastes of its user base, offering both novelty and excitement.

Screenshot showing Spiderman and Fortnite collaboration
Source: YUPLAY

Marvel and Fortnite’s partnership marketing campaign was effective because both parties understood and catered to their shared audience’s preferences.

The partnership helped them keep their brands top of mind and give gamers a more nostalgic experience.

Different Types of Partnership Marketing

Get familiar with the different types of partnership marketing to choose the best method for your business goals.

Brand Ambassador Programs

Brand ambassador programs mutually benefit both parties involved in a partnership. The business increases brand awareness, while the ambassador can grow their brand.

This differs from influencer partnership marketing because brand ambassadors are content creators or loyal customers who already know and love your products as they promote them along various marketing touch points.

These partnerships are often long-term and exclusive. This means that your ambassador might limit their collaborations with a short list of companies or may exclusively work with yours, unlike with influencer marketing.


Co-branding is a partnership in which two businesses create a new product or combine their existing products to create more customer value.

Some famous examples include Nike and Apple introducing the Apple Watch Nike edition and Doritos and Taco Bell collaborating to create the Doritos Locos Tacos.

Another example is Tailor Brands, which offers everything you need to launch and maintain your business, and Avalara, a brand offering software that automates tax compliance.

Together, they helped their customers to get their business licenses effortlessly. This collaboration has helped ‌Tailor Brands and Avalara‌ ‌increase conversions and generate brand awareness.

Screenshot showing Tailor Brands and Avalara collaboration

Source: Tailor Brands

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is similar to influencer marketing in that businesses partner with individual brands to promote their products.

The difference is, with affiliate marketing, the influencer, blogger, or content creator you work with gets paid a commission from an affiliate link if a customer uses that link to purchase your product.

Referral Partnerships

Referral partners are individuals or businesses that have firsthand experience with your brand. They recommend your products or services they have existing relationships with. They get paid a commission for each sale.

benefits of referral marketing

Source: Referralrock

Results from this type of partnership can be even more potent than affiliate marketing because referred leads have an established relationship with your referral partner.

This means that leads are more likely to trust the word of your referral partner. As a result, they’re highly likely to purchase from your brand and are more likely to remain your customers for an extended period.

Distribution Partnerships

One partner agrees to market another product using their distribution network in a distribution partnership.

For example, you might pay a distributor like Amazon for space in its warehouse. A distribution partner can also be a wholesaler, broker, sales agent, or business like yours with the same audience.

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Marketing Partner

Use these six tried-and-true tips for finding the ideal marketing partner.

1. Define Your Business Goals

Before working with a marketing partner, it’s best to identify what you’re trying to accomplish for your business.

Do you want to increase leads? Build brand awareness? What about increasing website traffic? Think about your goals and clearly define them.

This will help you determine the type of marketing partnership you want to form. You’ll also better decide which potential partners have the best tools and strategies to help you meet your goals.

Understanding your target audience is another critical aspect of defining your goals.

If you’re targeting a specific demographic, they may have their unique way of interacting with brands.

For example, if you are targeting a younger audience, they may be more likely to engage with brands on social media. In this case, your marketing partnership may be in the form of affiliate or influencer marketing.

Or perhaps your audience is more likely to engage with marketing emails. Then, you’d look for a partner skilled and experienced in creating engaging email marketing campaigns.

2. Analyze the Market

Analyzing your market can also help you find the right marketing partner.

Being familiar with your competitors’ strategies can help you identify marketing efforts that may work for you, your business, and your industry.

You can also identify gaps in your competitors’ marketing strategies to capitalize on so that you can set your business apart.

Plus, it’s a good idea to look for a marketing partner who understands how to conduct a competitive analysis so that you can come together to create the best marketing strategy for your business.

3. Create a List of Potential Partners

Now that you’ve ironed out your business goals and analyzed your market, you can start looking for potential candidates for partnership marketing.

Based on your goals and industry, you should have individuals and/or companies in mind to partner with.

So, for example, if you’re a clothing brand, you may want to partner with other clothing brands or social media influencers who are into fashion.

Or, let’s say that you’re an online store specializing in bespoke jewelry, and you’ve decided to explore partnership marketing to amplify your brand presence.

You’d ideally want a partner who understands e-commerce and has experience with platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce. 

So, you might collaborate with Klaviyo experts. They’re specialists in e-commerce email marketing and can ensure that both partners increase their reach and engagement, making your joint campaigns more effective and efficient.

Screenshot of Klaviyo email marketing landing page

Source: Klaviyo

From there, you can create a list of brands or people you want to work with. Here are some tips for curating a list.

  • Searchsocial media. Use keywords relevant to your brand, industry, products, and services.
  • Perform a Google search. If you’re more interested in a content marketing partnership, do a Google search using keywords relevant to your industry. This will turn up different websites that may be thought leaders and authorities in your industry. You can form marketing partnerships with them. You’ll generate traffic to your website as they link to your products and services. In return, they can earn a commission when a customer purchases using the link they provide.
  • Look at your competitors. While it’s never a good idea to copy what your competitors are doing, you can still get an idea of their strategies. Evaluate some of your competitors and see if they’re forming marketing partnerships. If they are, look at the types of brands they’re working with. Use this as inspiration to find similar brands.

4. Research Each Partner

After compiling a list of partners to work with, start learning about them.

Look at their websites, social media profiles, and other sources of information to get a sense of their experience and expertise in your industry.

Get to know their marketing approach.

Do they fully engage with their audience to build relationships? Or are they more authoritative and looking to inform?

Again, this goes back to your goals, what you’re trying to achieve, who your audience is, and how they interact with brands online. These factors will be crucial as you research different marketing partners.

Regardless of your industry, business, or goals, look for a partner who brings fresh, innovative ideas, can think outside the box, and creates impactful campaigns that captivate your target customer.

5. Establish Clear Expectations

Have you narrowed down your list to one or two businesses/partners? If so, it’s time to get in touch with them. In your initial conversation, lay out your expectations and seek to understand theirs.

Having a conversation about what you both want from the partnership can help you avoid disappointment down the road.

This also ensures you’ve outlined clear strategies for successfully executing your plan.

As a result, both parties will know exactly what they need to do to reach the goals they set for themselves.

6. Set Measurable KPIs and Track Results

Finally, the most critical step is to track the success of your partnership marketing strategy. Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you do this.

Partner-influenced revenue is an example of a KPI to track. You can calculate this metric by determining how much revenue you’ve brought since you started the partnership.

Other KPIs to consider for measuring the success of your marketing partnership include:

  • Number of active deals
  • Number of leads
  • Cost of partner-sourced customer acquisition
  • Partner engagement satisfaction

Wrapping Up

Partnership marketing brings businesses a wide range of benefits, from increasing brand awareness to driving more sales.

By pooling your resources with another company or brand, you can increase the power of your marketing campaigns.

However, the key to a successful partnership marketing strategy is choosing the right partner. Make sure they complement your strengths and understand your business.

Always do your homework, understand your potential partner’s expertise, and ensure your goals align for the best results.


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