E-commerce Link: Mutual Benefit, Revisited
In my June 2006 column, “Mutual Benefit,” I introduced the concept of online cooperative marketing partnerships. This is an arrangement between two non-competitive companies to actively promote each other’s products and services to their customer bases. These partnerships offer a great opportunity to grow your customer file and strengthen your brand for very little money out of pocket.
Now, let’s look at six steps to get a cooperative marketing partnership deal started.
Step #1: Compile the assets you have to barter with.
Every company communicates with its customers differently. Take a step back and look at your organization. What customer touchpoints can you leverage for these efforts? Some common examples of inventory frequently bartered are package and customer statement inserts as well as links and banner ads on e-mail newsletters, online shopping cart confirmation pages and online customer order status areas.
Step #2: Identify potential partners.
Competitors make bad cooperative marketing partners for obvious reasons. Other than that, the landscape for potential partners is wide open. There are many different ways to brainstorm on how to find potential partners based on your target audience. For example, you can consider your products and services, then make a list of complimentary companies. In my experience, it’s always beneficial to choose a company that offers products or services that complement your offerings. Similar customer profiles can help increase conversion rates from these efforts. However, if you are looking to diversify your customer base, you may want to select a company with a different customer profile. Examine the behavioral data of your target market and make a list of potential partners based on other brands or products your customers use. Don’t be afraid to use these deals as a testing ground for new markets.
Two such marketers playing on both the affinity and differences within their housefiles are MarketingSherpa Inc. and the publisher of this magazine you hold in your hand, Target Marketing Group. Their deal leverages e-mail co-registration to help one another boost customer acquisition and sales. Other marketers who have found value in cooperative marketing arrangements include The Financial Times, Audible.com and Puritan’s Pride.