Skip to main content

Partner Marketing: Why You Should Build Strong Alliances

Learn the importance of partner marketing and how it can help you expand your reach and grow your business.

Marketing is an essential part of making your business more visible and attracting potential customers, but choosing the right marketing strategies isn't always easy. There are so many marketing initiatives to choose from, and every business is different.

Partner marketing has become an increasingly important part of marketing campaigns for small businesses, allowing brands to reach untapped markets and find new customers. Good marketing partnerships can play a key role in your marketing campaign.

Finding potential partners and forming a marketing partnership may seem overwhelming at first, but it's well worth the effort. On this page, we'll discuss the role strategic collaboration plays in marketing campaigns and how you can use partnership marketing to grow your business. We'll even offer some tips to help you create the best partner marketing strategy for your business.

Partner marketing is a marketing strategy where two or more businesses combine efforts to work toward individual business goals, including reaching a larger target audience, generating traffic, or increasing brand awareness.

Influencer marketing is a common example of a marketing partnership. Brands frequently partner with social media influencers to market products and services because social media marketing is such a powerful tool. When people see influencers using and recommending your product, they're more likely to give your product a chance.

Partnership marketing can also help increase brand credibility thanks to your connection to your marketing partner. People have a hard time buying products they don't know or trust, but marketing partnerships give more exposure to new audiences. As your products are endorsed by other brands or individuals and marketed to new audiences, you become more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers.

Types of partner marketing

There are several types of marketing partnerships your business can utilize, such as:

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the simplest forms of partner marketing, allowing you to collaborate with influencers and brands to increase brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, and generate leads.

The affiliate marketing process is simple: You pay a fee to your affiliates — the third parties you're collaborating with — when they promote your brand, product, or service. Some of the largest online companies offer an affiliate program, including Amazon, Etsy, and eBay.


Co-marketing is a type of marketing partnership where businesses or brands work together to promote collaboration.

You see a lot of co-marketing in the fashion industry, where top designers work with major brands like Nike and Levi's to create and market exclusive products. These marketing partnerships allow both brands to benefit from each other's reputations, which helps increase brand awareness and reach new markets.

Referral partnerships

With referral partnerships, you're partnering with another brand or business to refer customers and clients to each other.

For example, a marketing company might form a partnership with a web design company to offer more comprehensive services to small business owners. If a client needs a website built, the web design company can recommend marketing services from their partner. If a client needs marketing services, the marketing company may recommend a website redesign from their partner.

Strategic partnerships

Strategic partners are similar to referral partners, with the main difference being the agreement between the two parties.

In a strategic partnership, you're making an agreement with another brand or company that you will only recommend their business for a specific service. If you agree to a strategic partnership with a web design company, you're agreeing that you'll only recommend that specific company for web design services.

Channel partnerships

Channel partnerships are a diverse type of partnership between businesses. The idea is that both companies are working to provide mutual benefit.

You may offer a referral fee when a business refers customers to you, or you might partner with a similar company to offer more comprehensive products or services. The exact details of channel partnerships depend on the businesses involved and the goals of those businesses.

Joint ventures

With a joint venture, you're making an agreement to combine your resources with another business's resources to achieve a common goal.

Joint ventures are common in real estate because pooling resources gives real estate investors more purchasing power. You can also find examples of joint ventures in the automotive and audio-visual industries.

Content partnerships

When two or more businesses, brands, or publishers collaborate to create original audio or video programming, it's called a content partnership.

For example, a magazine may collaborate with a clothing brand to publish original stories and lifestyle content that's in line with both brands. As people consume more content and the demand for original, high-quality content grows, content partnerships are becoming more popular and effective.

Distribution partnerships

If you don't have solid brand awareness, you can use distribution partnerships to distribute your products through a more recognizable brand.

There are different types of distribution partnerships, giving you fast access to untapped markets. You might have a product that you're having trouble selling online, but distributing your product through a major retailer can help you reach a larger audience.

Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are a great way to get return customers at your business, and they can play a crucial role in marketing partnerships. Instead of offering a loyalty program for your own business, you can partner with another company to offer rewards for your partner's business.

For instance, if you sell car parts, you might partner with a mechanic to offer discounts on parts after several purchases. That mechanic can offer loyal customers discounts on your parts, and you can offer discounts on their services, so you can both benefit.

There are several good reasons to consider marketing partnerships. If you're considering hiring a digital marketing agency to help you form marketing partnerships, here are some benefits you can enjoy:

Increased reach and exposure

Marketing is all about expanding your target audience and finding new customers. With marketing partnerships, you can tap into a new customer base simply by partnering with another brand or business.

You get quick access to a larger customer base, which can help you increase sales and brand awareness. If you choose the right partner brand, you can connect with new market segments that might have been completely unaware of your products or services.


Cost is a key factor in marketing strategies, and partnership marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase brand recognition. In an ideal marketing partnership, both brands or businesses provide mutual benefits.

When you're not offering cash in exchange for marketing services, you can save a lot of money. You can even take advantage of free advertising to maximize exposure and get the most out of your marketing campaign.

Enhanced credibility

Consumers have a tendency to stick to the brands and businesses they know, which makes it tough for new brands to gain consumer trust.

When people see your product recommended or sold by a business they trust, that trust carries over to your product. This is especially helpful for new products that aren't found in many retail stores.

Access to new customers

It's great to have loyal customers, but your business can't grow unless you're attracting new customers. Partnership marketing gives you a chance to get your products in front of new customers and gives them a chance to experience the quality of your products.

Potential drawbacks of partner marketing

While effective partnership marketing can help your business, there are some potential drawbacks, such as:

  • Loss of control: In partner relationships, both parties often have control over the way products are marketed. Some people have a difficult time working with a partner because they're used to having complete control. This also makes it extremely important to choose the right marketing partnerships.
  • Misalignment of goals: Your goals aren't always going to align with your marketing partner, and that can make things difficult.
  • Dependency: Certain marketing partnerships, including distribution partnerships and loyalty programs, can make one brand dependent on the other. While marketing partnerships can be effective, you shouldn't depend on them.
  • Complexity: Getting the most out of marketing partnerships isn't easy, and it often requires a lot of work. Before starting a marketing partnership, make sure you're prepared to put in the effort to make it work.

The success of your marketing partnerships depends on several factors. Following a few best practices can help you build successful marketing partnerships:

  • Select the right partners: Your partners should be aligned with your goals, easy to communicate with, and beneficial to your business. When it comes to selecting partners, it's good to be picky.
  • Develop a partner program: Partner programs make it easy for other brands to recommend or sell your products or services, so make sure you have one.
  • Maintain open communication: Communication is key in partnerships. If you want your partnership to work, maintain open communication and work together to find solutions and reach your goals.
  • Provide training resources: Training resources make it easier for brands who are new to partnership marketing to learn the ropes, making them more valuable partners.
  • Set clear boundaries: Boundaries are key in marketing partnerships, especially if you care about having control. Set clear boundaries early on to protect your business and maximize your partnerships.
  • Monitor performance: Blindly maintaining a business partnership can be a waste of time and money. Monitor your partnerships to see how they're performing and make changes accordingly.

Unlock business growth through strategic partner marketing

Strategic partner marketing is one of the best ways to grow your business without spending a fortune on your marketing campaigns. A comprehensive marketing strategy helps you reach a larger audience and build a solid reputation for your brand. You can even further expand your reach with SMS and email marketing.

If your marketing strategies need an update, Mailchimp can help. Our email marketing and marketing automation tools can help you craft the best marketing strategy, and our reporting and analytics tools help you monitor performance. Try Mailchimp today and see how we can help your business grow.

Share This Article