Creating the perfect blend in partnership marketing

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In an ever changing marketing landscape, brands are looking at alternative approaches to engage a hard to reach consumer. As a result, we’re seeing the growth of partnership marketing as it earns its place amongst the marketing mix as a more engaging, effective and innovative marketing tool.

This was the subject of the IPM’s recent conference on Friday 22 April, which was hosted in conjunction with the UK Partnership Panel and chaired by Mediator Communications’ managing director, Tara Honeywell.

Everyday consumers buy into brand propositions and those that resonate most are where great brands, retailers and common causes come together to create the perfect match. The conference saw those at the forefront of shaping the future of partnerships share their views on why partnerships has become so important in today’s marketing mix as well as demonstrate the powerful combinations that have grown brands.

There can be some ambiguity around what we mean by partnership marketing and it’s scope. Tara Honeywell therefore presented the definition that was created by the UK Partnership Panel, whose role is to raise the profile of PM across the industry.

"Partnership Marketing is the discipline of brands coming together to co-create ideas that are collectively more effective for their businesses and more compelling to their consumers."

Matthew Leopald, shared how British Gas’ sponsorship with British Swimming created a ‘new world’ model of marketing partnerships focusing on the depth of the fan ship rather than a more activation led approach which they had previously applied to the sponsorship.

By engaging people who care about the sport meant that British Gas could help British Swimming grow the fan base and increase participation in the sport and in turn trigger likability, affinity and consideration of British Gas over the long term. This deeper engagement and a more meaningful association helped change the way the customer felt about British Gas outside of a standard sponsorship badging exercise. And by truly integrating the partnership and sharing objectives created a more credible association.

For Ciara Godley at Comic Relief, having clear objectives and working together has been the secret ingredient in Comic Relief's hugely successful and long term partnership strategy. Sainsbury’s have partnered with Red Nose Day for years and is their biggest partner outside of the BBC. Not only do they raise a lot of money have driven footfall into stores and engaged with shoppers on a much deeper level. For Comic Relief a flexible approach to a partnership and having passion and belief has reaped rewards for the charity and all involved.

Tanya Easterman, from Cinema First took us on the journey of how Meerkat Movies changed the game of movie partnerships by applying a full business response to the partnership with significant investment that built the momentum. For Cinema First it was important to re-invigorate the Orange Wednesdays proposition and evolve the partnership. It was important for them when choosing a new partner that this was a genuine partnership that promoted the industry and would drive incremental business for all parties. For the cinema industry they’ve opened the offer up to multiple day visits and are looking at a family offering and for Compare the Market they’ve retained customers aswell as impacted customer perceptions.

Tara closed the day with a round up of the outtakes, from movie and charity partnerships to sponsorships and music collaborations there were three clear aspects required to create the perfect partnership; strategy first, collaborative approach, clear KPI’s and evaluation metrics.

If you are looking to use partnerships to help your brand grow take a look at the Partnership Panel’s Best Practice Guidelines here.

Jo Coughlin is the new business director at Mediator Communications.

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