Innovation and creativity top the list; reputation is surprisingly low.
Whether involved in B2B or B2C (or a combination of both), most businesses and organisations will attempt cross-partnerships to achieve marketing success at one time or another.
From the more sensible strategies of getting hold of expert content you are missing, building more brand trust or expanding your customer base, to the downright egregious attempts to block a competitor, the reasons for partnerships are varied and numerous.
It may be for a singular campaign or to widen your net during the course of a year or more, but marketing partnerships depend wholly on the sales and marketing objectives for each company.
Get it right, and the incoming leads far outweigh any potential outgoing cost; get it wrong, and you are stuck with inefficient campaign marketing.
Across the board, the stats support the effectiveness of co-marketing.
According to Partnerize, 74% of companies say partnerships are a high or very high priority for their businesses and 54% say partnerships drive more than 20% of total company revenue.
PartnerPath confirms 68% of consumers can make buying decisions before speaking to sales representatives after seeing co-marketed campaigns.
Providing the evidence
In a recent survey of senior marketers in the B2B space by the New Statesman Media Group, contributors were asked to rank the most and least important considerations when selecting a new marketing partner.
Assuming a robust marketing strategy is in place, and there is due diligence in terms of cultural fit, duration of partnership and all parties are committed, then the results are very interesting.
Ranking in first place by quite a distance is creativity and innovation, which cements faith in an industry where good storytelling is valued.
It does not matter how big the marketing partnership is – think Kanye & Adidas, BMW & Louis Vuitton or the more recent Burger King & McDonald’s – creativity is key.
But it is two of the factors with lowly ranking that are most telling – and a boost to many start-ups, SMEs and those making their way in B2B marketing without much experience.
Testimonials & references and brand reputation are less important than creativity, cost, proof of concept and customer support.
Those making the decisions in terms of marketing partnerships value the ability to tell an engaging, innovative story far above the reputation of the ally. This opens up the marketing world to smaller players, which can only be positive.
But remember – even knowing what the decision-makers are after in terms of a B2B marketing partnership, there are still many pitfalls before it comes to execution.
Advanced planning, budgeting, and communication need to be top-notch when one aligns their B2B brand with a marketing partner; otherwise, a campaign will never end up a successful case study.
Words of wisdom
Head of RYOT Studio, Verizon Media’s branded content division, Mark Melling enthuses about a recent marketing partnership, pushing boundaries with innovation and technology.
“The Fabric of Reality was a brand new take on the traditional fashion show using virtual reality.
“The buzz and audience engagement that we had from this partnership with the London College of Fashion and the Museum of Other Realities was not only a highlight of my current role, but one of the best of my career so far.”
This immersive fashion show also streamed in 2D so anyone with a screen and internet connection could access it, demonstrating that high-spec tech needn’t be a barrier to mass access.
Likewise, Abhinav Kumar (CMO/CCO – Global Markets, Tata Consultancy Services) says their brand value growth from US$2.3bn to $13.5bn this year “has been made possible by a range of efforts, including a high-impact brand sponsorship strategy with the world’s leading marathons, [and] strategic partnerships with bodies like the World Economic Forum.”
What becomes crystal clear through hearing testimonies is that even with the more ambitious projects, engaging storytelling lies at the heart of the project.
And as the New Statesman Media Group’s survey confirms, while cost is an important consideration, it doesn’t trump innovation as the main factor for marketing partnerships.
So there is an argument to say that while budget can be a barrier, B2B marketing campaigns are generally smaller in concept – if they touch the sought-after audience, no matter how niche or small, they have done a good job.
As Abhinav aptly concludes: “In storytelling, it is said that a good story is something that engages you, but a great story is one that makes you want to tell it to others.
“Similarly, the test of a great campaign is whether it makes people not just engage with it, but actively become its advocates.”