Partnership marketing has been around for a long time. It wasn’t uncommon for Bill Smith’s Plumbing Service to get ad dollars from a big brand such as Kohler for Yellow Page ads if in fact Bill Smiths Plumbing carried Kolher bath and kitchen plumbing fixtures. The ad sort of gave Bill Smith’s plumbing a leg up as being a quality contractor due to the brand association with Kohler. However, the ads were ads, one way marketing.

That model worked pretty well until consumers changed the direction of how they shop, or, more specifically, how they start their search for what they are shopping for. Channel Advisor states in a White Paper, How Consumers Shop Online:

Eighty one percent of consumers begin their product searches with Google and 11 percent begin with Yahoo. (This should convince you how important it is for your site to be listed on Google Local, as well as appear high in the Google search engine results.)

A New Way to Partner: Sharing the Audience

Big brands and local brands are still interested in you and your business. Mike Whaling from 30 Lines Marketing summed it up nicely during an interview on a partnership marketing project they are doing for a client, University Village.

Partnership marketing has traditionally been about sharing advertising … now it is more about sharing audience.

University Village, a student housing provider in Columbus, Ohio, tailored a VIP program, where they negotiated deals and discounts with local venders for their residents that align with their brand and target demographic. The cool spin to this is that they incorporated  a social media element by adding Foursquare buttons to each of the ads.

Our own company (Urbane Apartments) recently partnered with Vitamin Water and Sharpie Pens during a local festival to create Hydration Galleries, and landed on Sharpie’s Web Site;

Our friends at Urbane Apartments coordinated an area of R&R for attendees of Michigan’s Arts Beats & Eats fest over Labor Day Weekend.  Sharpie hopped on board with the great people over at vitaminwater to put this event into action.  Transforming one of Urbane Apartments’ into, what was known as a ”Hydration Gallery,” fest-goers were invited into a “chic lounge atmosphere” to cool off, rehydrate with delicious vitaminwater and create works of art with Sharpie Markers on easels that were set up around the lounge, all the while enjoying tunes provided by Livio Radio.

What is the value to your business for landing on a larger brands web site?  A really big glass of Google Juice! Small business could never afford that type of exposure in the past. You must carefully choose your partners, though. It is paramount to align yourself with like demographics that add value, or likeness to your audience.

We would love to hear your feedback or experiences on any partnership marketing projects you may have tried. There is as much value in what didn’t work, as what did. Please share in the comments.

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About Eric Brown

Eric Brown

Eric Brown's background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for a major Midwest apartment developer. He established a proven track record of effectively repositioning existing rental properties in a way that added value for investors while enhancing the resident experience. He also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.

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  • http://mikewhaling.com Mike Whaling

    Thanks for the plug, Eric. Really, all of the credit goes to Kim Cory and the rest of her team at University Village. While the Foursquare buttons are a nice little add-on for the listings on the website, the real power behind this program has been the relationships that UV has built with these other local vendors. They’ve gone out of their way to introduce relevant vendors to their built-in audience (their residents), and they’ve shown that they can drive traffic to those businesses.

    Now, in turn, those partner businesses are jumping at every opportunity they can get to promote UV. From local restaurants to the school paper, businesses are stepping up for the chance to work with “Team UV” on some kind of promotion. It has also carried through on Facebook, as these partner businesses are pushing their audience to UV’s page on a regular basis. UV has moved the focus of their efforts to be much less about them, and much more about what their customers want … the partnerships they’ve made are a natural extension of that.

  • Annie Noll

    I really think you can do some create things with partnership marketing. I do social media for a university and sort of along those partnership marketing lines, one thing were considering doing for a popular football game (but never did, because time got short) was to share videos on Facebook with our rival school- have our FB fans make a video for their Facebook page and vice versa. After reading this post- good job- I think we should reconsider it for next time.

    • Anonymous

      Partnership Marketing is about the audience,
      Hey Annie, Those are excellent ideas, particularly to drive some facebook engagement. We were focused on landing on larger brands web site for enhanced google search, but you are right, there are a zillion ways to skin the cat. I think that most small businesses may not realize the value of their audience.

    • Anonymous

      Partnership Marketing is about the audience,
      Hey Annie, Those are excellent ideas, particularly to drive some facebook engagement. We were focused on landing on larger brands web site for enhanced google search, but you are right, there are a zillion ways to skin the cat. I think that most small businesses may not realize the value of their audience.

    • Anonymous

      Partnership Marketing is about the audience,
      Hey Annie, Those are excellent ideas, particularly to drive some facebook engagement. We were focused on landing on larger brands web site for enhanced google search, but you are right, there are a zillion ways to skin the cat. I think that most small businesses may not realize the value of their audience.

    • Anonymous

      Partnership Marketing is about the audience,
      Hey Annie, Those are excellent ideas, particularly to drive some facebook engagement. We were focused on landing on larger brands web site for enhanced google search, but you are right, there are a zillion ways to skin the cat. I think that most small businesses may not realize the value of their audience.

  • http://card.ly/nakevacorothers nakeva

    Love the use of the foursquare buttons used by University Village in Ohio! Smallbiz greatly benefits from partnership marketing and why I'm currently working that into my plans.

  • http://2witterbug.com CharityHisle

    I've gotta give a BIG shout out to my friend, Kim Cory, Sales and Marketing Director at UV for her forward-thinking ideas!

    When Kim asked Mike implement her ideas on the UVBeat site, she had know idea how successful that would be. Everyone in student housing should be watching what Kim does next… I know I will be! GREAT job Kim!

  • http://mikewhaling.com Mike Whaling

    Thanks for the plug, Eric. Really, all of the credit goes to Kim Cory and the rest of her team at University Village. While the Foursquare buttons are a nice little add-on for the listings on the website, the real power behind this program has been the relationships that UV has built with these other local vendors. They've gone out of their way to introduce relevant vendors to their built-in audience (their residents), and they've shown that they can drive traffic to those businesses.

    Now, in turn, those partner businesses are jumping at every opportunity they can get to promote UV. From local restaurants to the school paper, businesses are stepping up for the chance to work with “Team UV” on some kind of promotion. It has also carried through on Facebook, as these partner businesses are pushing their audience to UV's page on a regular basis. UV has moved the focus of their efforts to be much less about them, and much more about what their customers want … the partnerships they've made are a natural extension of that.

  • Affiliate Program Manager

    Excellent article! I have looked at many sites and not come across such a site as yours that tells you what you really need to know about affiliate marketing.

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