An automated, data-driven co-marketing plan for your partner ecosystem is a powerful strategy that, when executed well, can significantly and quickly accelerate a shared pipeline. Whether you’re working with partners, resellers, affiliates, distributors, or other third parties, a unified co-marketing plan can enable your partners to easily expand the reach of your brand.
To ensure co-marketing is successful, though, it's essential to blend clever ideas with thoughtful execution. A structured approach wins and includes clear goals, effective communication, and tactical flexibility. In this post, you’ll learn how co-marketing works, the most important steps to rollout, and how you can automate the process in a way that best unifies and preserves your brand identity. Plus, we're sharing co-marketing examples that you'll want to bookmark for your next partner marketing efforts.
👉 What you’ll find:
- What is co-marketing
- Major co-marketing benefits
- Steps to roll out your co-marketing plan
- How to automate and scale co-marketing
What is co-marketing?
Co-marketing is a marketing strategy where two or more complementary businesses collaborate to promote each other's products or services. In the channel and world of partnerships, co-marketing allows a business to equip its partners to easily communicate information about its products or services.
For example, your business can create hyper-local sales campaigns specific to each partner’s market and deploy co-branded collateral that scales to ten or ten thousand partners – all while keeping the integrity of your brand intact. For example, this might look like how Stanley Black & Decker was able to drive a 163% increase in reseller leads with an automated Google ads strategy. Keep reading to learn how this successful strategy was developed in real-life!
Co-marketing offers numerous advantages for businesses, including:
- Increased brand exposure: Co-marketing expands your reach by tapping into your partner's audience or location, resulting in greater brand awareness
- Enhanced credibility: Associating their brand with a reputable company can boost your partner’s credibility and increase your visibility
- Built to scale: Sharing marketing resources and efforts with your partners can reduce their individual marketing costs, allowing them to focus on leads
- Access to new markets: Co-marketing allows you to reach previously untapped markets, helping you attract new customers
Throughout this article, we’ll look at businesses that have used co-marketing to tap into these benefits and how they achieved this growth for both B2B and B2C sales. Ready to get started? These are the ten steps to follow for your co-marketing plan.
1. Define your business goals and mission statement
Before you go to market jointly, you must define your business’ individual goals first.
This is the time to sit down and evaluate what you want to achieve with your overall marketing efforts. By setting specific goals, you can ensure that your co-marketing plan is tailored towards achieving them.
When establishing your goals, it's important to consider both short-term and long-term objectives:
- Short-term goals can help you gain quick wins and build momentum
- Long-term goals focus on the bigger picture and help you stay on track towards your vision for the future
Your mission statement should be clear, concise, and aligned with your overall business strategy. It should serve as the foundation for your branding and marketing efforts, reflecting the essence of your business and what you stand for.
Involve key stakeholders in the process, too. This can include leaders, team members, and partners. By soliciting input, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of your business goals and develop a co-marketing plan that is aligned with the needs and expectations of your partners.
Overall, taking the time to define your business goals and mission statement at the outset can help ensure that marketing efforts are focused, strategic, and aligned with your overall business objectives.
⭐️ Co-marketing example: Xerox implements a fully automated Google Ads campaign at scale
Xerox needed a way to scale their co-marketing efforts for their partners, but initial efforts were time-consuming, costly, and led to conflicting ad campaigns and budgets. Xerox’s team realigned on their goals, and realized they needed a solution they could manage for partners. With Impartner’s Google Ads for the Channel solution, they now set up and deploy ad campaigns with zero effort from partners. Today, Google Ads is the first source of leads for Xerox partners and has led to a 75% decrease in cost per lead!
2. Conduct a SWOT analysis
Conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis is a crucial step in creating a successful co-marketing plan. It allows you to take a closer look at your business and partner ecosystem, and gain insight into the areas that need improvement.
Internally, you should analyze your business's strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself:
- What makes your business unique, and what are its weaknesses?
- What resources do you have that can be leveraged for co-marketing efforts?
- What gaps need to be addressed?
- What solutions can you find to fix these gaps?
Externally, you should analyze your business's opportunities and threats. Answer these questions:
- What market trends could create new opportunities for your business?
- What competitors are you up against, and how are they impacting your business?
- What industry regulations or economic conditions could affect your business?
By taking the time to conduct a comprehensive SWOT analysis, you can identify potential obstacles and opportunities that may impact your co-marketing plan. This information can then be used to develop a strategy that leverages your strengths, addresses your weaknesses, and takes advantage of new opportunities in the market.
⭐️ Co-marketing example: AvePoint grows channel revenue from 20% to 50% of business share with purpose-built solution
AvePoint had a large partner ecosystem and is a major Microsoft partner, but they managed their onboarding and co-marketing plans with a custom solution that didn’t work the way they needed. They found a purpose-built solution with customized onboarding, scalable co-branded assets, and shareable certifications to amplify their reach only. See how they drove greater channel ROI in the following video.
3. Align internally around execution
Co-marketing isn’t just between you and your partners—it takes a team internally for a successful rollout. Before you start your co-marketing efforts, it’s critical that your team is aligned around your business and marketing goals you’ve already laid out.
From there, clearly defined roles and responsibilities ensure your team is best set up for success. Identify the internal stakeholders who have an interest in your co-marketing efforts. They can be employees on your team, in other functions, or other leaders within your organization.
Company leaders may also have insights into the company's strengths and weaknesses, as well as ideas for how to improve your co-marketing approach. By involving leaders in the planning process, you can gain buy-in, alignment, and support for the plan from the start.
4. Define your offerings, USPs, and target audiences
You’ll be delivering a joint value proposition and key brand messaging to your co-marketing partners in the next step, but before that, you’ll need to define what those are for your campaign.
Defining your offerings, unique selling points (USPs), and target audiences is an essential step in creating a successful co-marketing plan. It's crucial to have a clear understanding of what you're offering, how it's unique, and who your target audience is. Later, this will help you pick the best channels and approaches to use for your co-marketing.
First, clearly outline your products or services. What are you offering, and what sets it apart from your competitors? Be specific about the features and benefits that your product or service provides.
Next, identify your unique selling points (USPs). These are the specific factors that differentiate your product or service from your competitors. Your USPs should highlight what makes your product or service unique and better than others in the market.
After defining your offerings and USPs, create a detailed description of your ideal audience—both partners that will be deploying the marketing and the customers it will reach. Ask yourself:
- Who are your target customers?
- What are their demographics, interests, and behaviors?
- Where are they finding information online?
- What are their pain points?
- Where do your current marketing efforts miss the mark?
Understanding your target audience is critical to ensure that your marketing messages resonate and drive the engagement you want.
⭐️ Co-marketing example: Siemens doubles partner reach and engagement with targeted, localized email campaigns
With over 16,000 global partners, Siemens Digitial Industries Software was communicating with partners in an uncoordinated way—and largely in English with non-native English speakers. Siemens turned to Impartner’s News on Demand tool to automate newsletter creation, localization, deployment, and tracking. Now, partners get localized email newsletters with co-branded marketing materials and information, which has led to 70% open rates!
5. Craft your key brand messages
Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, focus on crafting compelling messages that speak directly to customers. Your messages should be concise, clear, and engaging, and they should communicate the benefits of your offerings in a way that resonates with your target audience. It should also be scalable—whether you have ten partners or a thousand.
It's also crucial to differentiate yourself from your competitors in your messaging. What sets your brand apart from the competition? What unique value do you bring to the table? By highlighting these factors, you can differentiate yourself and create a stronger connection with your audience.
Finally, consider incorporating storytelling into your messaging.
Stories can be a powerful tool for connecting with your audience on an emotional level and conveying the benefits of your offerings in a more engaging way. Think about the stories that best illustrate your brand's mission, values, and unique value proposition, and use them to create messaging that resonates with your audience.
6. Choose your marketing communication channels
With so many options available, it's important to select the channels that are most effective in reaching your target audience. To do this, you need to understand the communication preferences of your audience and the channels they are most likely to use.
These may include a combination of organic and paid channels such as:
- Social media
- Content marketing
- Public relations
- Google ads, and other paid advertising platforms
Social media is one of the most popular communication channels, for a reason. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn provide an easy way to connect with customers and promote your brand. If your target audience is active on social media, this could be a great way to reach them.
Email is another effective communication channel that can be used to promote your co-marketing efforts. Emails are a great way to deliver personalized messages to your audience and build relationships with them.
While organic channels are important for building brand awareness and credibility, paid channels, such as Google ads, can offer more immediate and targeted results.
With Google ads, you can create ads that show up at the top of Google's search results when someone searches for relevant keywords related to your business. This can help drive traffic to your website and increase conversions. Additionally, other paid advertising platforms such as social media advertising and display advertising can offer precise targeting options to reach your ideal audience.
By testing and optimizing your paid advertising campaigns over time, you can maximize their effectiveness and achieve your desired results.
⭐️ Co-marketing example: Stanley Black & Decker drives 163% increase in reseller leads with scalable Google ads strategy
Stanley Black & Decker (SB&D) was missing their customers right where they were searching for their products most—in local Google searches. With Impartner’s Google Ads for the Channel technology, they now manage localized Google Ads campaigns for their resellers, which has led to a 163% increase in local dealers’ leads and a 49% decrease in cost per lead!
7. Balance budget, people, and tools
As you develop your plan, keep in mind the resources you have available to you, what opportunities you have to automate key parts of the process, and how you can make it scalable as your partner ecosystem grows.
Budget is a key factor to consider when deciding on your co-marketing tactics. Consider allocating resources for paid advertising options such as Google Ads, which can help drive leads to your website. Additionally, social media advertising can be a powerful tool for reaching your target audience.
People are also an essential component of your co-marketing plan. If appropriate, consider partnering with industry experts or thought leaders to promote your products or services. Utilizing the knowledge and expertise of others can help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
When co-marketing becomes a priority focus, leading partnership teams turn to automation for efficient and cost-effective success. By using partner marketing automation within Impartner, teams can push out campaigns, share co-branded assets, launch paid and organic social media, and analyze partner performance at ease.
8. Create consistent check-ins
Creating consistent check-ins is an essential step in any co-marketing plan. By doing so, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that you are making progress toward your goals. Regular check-ins provide an opportunity to identify any issues or roadblocks that may be hindering progress and make necessary adjustments.
Assigning one person to oversee the entire plan is critical to its success. This person should have the authority to make decisions and take action as needed to keep the plan moving forward.
When scheduling check-ins, it's important to be consistent and stick to a regular schedule. This helps to maintain momentum and ensure that everyone is on track. The frequency of check-ins will depend on the complexity of your co-marketing plan, but they should be scheduled often enough to ensure that progress is being made and challenges are being addressed in a timely manner.
During check-ins, review progress toward goals and identify any challenges or roadblocks that may be hindering progress. Use an automated solution, when appropriate, to make it easier to share reports and KPIs.
9. Communicate the plan
Communicating your co-marketing plan is crucial to its success. Once you have finalized the plan, it's important to share it with all relevant stakeholders.
Clear communication is key to ensuring everyone understands the plan's objectives and their role in its success. This may involve organizing meetings, presentations, training videos, and live sessions to bring everyone up to speed.
In addition to communicating with your internal team, you should also communicate your co-marketing plan to your partner ecosystem. Ensure that they understand the goals of the plan and their role in its execution. Clear communication and alignment between partners will help ensure that all parties are working towards a common goal.
10. Execute, monitor, and adjust
Executing a co-marketing plan can be an exciting time for any organization. After all the preparation and planning, it's time to put the plan into action.
During the execution phase, it's important to allocate resources appropriately. This includes ensuring that you have the necessary tools, team members, and budget in place to execute the plan effectively. With Impartner, you can manage your partner marketing campaigns, end-to-end.
It's also crucial to monitor and track the progress of the campaign from the start, to identify areas of improvement and make necessary adjustments. One of the best ways to track progress is by setting up key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs can help you evaluate how successful your campaign is, based on specific metrics, such as:
- Engagement rate
- Conversion rate
- Click-through rate
Using these metrics, you can monitor your co-marketing plan and make data-driven decisions to adjust and optimize your strategy. As with any marketing initiative, remain flexible and adapt to the changing landscape. Monitor your campaigns and adjust your strategy accordingly. For example, if a particular communication channel is not generating the desired results, consider switching to another channel or modifying the messaging to improve engagement.
🔎 Discover more: Identify the top channel partner analytics to track your overall channel performance here.
Maximize your co-marketing efforts with Impartner
The best co-marketing plans are built to scale and maximize reach, seamlessly. Each day millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner. Why? Because the partner experience matters and leading channel organizations agree.
Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning partner management solution provider on the market. Our partner relationship management and through channel marketing automation solutions help companies accelerate revenue and profitability through their indirect sales channels at every partner lifecycle touchpoint.
With Impartner, you can amplify channel marketing efforts intelligently, driving more leads with less work. Automate campaigns in paid ads, social, and email, streamline marketing processes, and track the performance of your co-marketing campaigns, all in one platform.
Need to accelerate your partnerships? We’re ready when you are.