A solid co-marketing partnership is one of the better ways to reach a previously untapped audience, generate positive publicity, and create a wealth of valuable marketing collateral. When done right, it’s a mutually beneficial, thoroughly productive way to boost your marketing efforts as a whole.

Aligning yourself with an industry peer can pay off in spades, but these kinds of relationships aren’t easy to start and sustain. Your partner’s interests and qualities need to complement yours, and the companies you work with have to be reliable enough to consistently pull their weight.

Finding a company that fits that bill is hard in its own right, but once you’ve identified one you want to work with, you’re faced with the challenges of successfully contacting them, corresponding with them, and convincing them to work with you.

Those processes can be hard to figure out on your own, so to offer you some help, we spoke with three HubSpot experts about how they found strong co-marketing partnerships and the steps you need to take to do the same.

What do you look for in a co-marketing partner?

When asked about what they look for in a co-marketing partner, our experts all seemed to agree that the number one priority is alignment in audience, messaging, and image. As HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager, Margot Mazur, put it, “We look for partners who speak to similar personas and address their needs. Specifically, we want to make sure our partners have a similar audience and voice — with similar values and goals to meet.”

Though finding a company that checks those boxes is central to a successful co-marketing partnership, there’s still a lot more to the process. You might identify a potential partner that lines up well with your brand identity and appeals to a similar audience, but co-marketing partnerships need to be productive and mutually beneficial — you need to know you’ll get something out of it.

According to HubSpot Marketing Manager, Diego Santos, “Once we are happy with [a potential partner’s] suitability, we classify them according to a co-marketing matrix — one that takes the partner’s popularity, relevance, and objective into consideration. This process helps us to prioritize collaborations and look at the big picture.”

Ideological and objective-oriented alignment isn’t enough. There needs to be hard, quantifiable potential behind a co-marketing partnership. As Mazur said, “We also look at a potential partner’s audience across social and email channels, making sure that our businesses are of a similar size.”

Co-marketing partnerships are, at their core, strategic plays. They can be invaluable assets in targeted marketing efforts. For instance, HubSpot Marketing Manager, Clara Landecy, spoke on how they can be leveraged to target specific areas, “I always look for partners who have a strong presence in targeted regions. Partnering with local partners is essential if your company does business in multiple languages and across the globe.”

Santos succinctly captured all those points when he laid out the key questions to consider when finding co-marketing partners, “We usually ask ourselves the following questions to make sure they are a good fit: Who are they? What is their area of expertise? And who — and how big — is their audience?”

It’s important to have a firm understanding of what you want out of a co-marketing partnership before approaching potential partners. Find a company with similar values that will enhance your ability to effectively reach your target audience — one that will pull its weight, complement your messaging, and ultimately suit your long term goals.

How do you approach and connect with potential co-marketing partners?

Our experts stressed the importance of a personal touch in connecting with potential co-marketing partners. As Santos put it, “A more personal, network-oriented approach is usually much more effective than a cold introductory email or message.”

Co-marketing partnerships are inherently personal, so it’s only fitting that you start your relationship with your partner off on a personal note. But how do you get there?

Well, according to our experts, your best bet is leveraging resources and co-workers from within your own company. Landecy said, “To increase your response rate, ask your colleagues if they have any contacts at the companies you’re looking to partner with, warm outreach always helps.”

Santos agreed, “We always try to leverage the connections we already have in HubSpot. When we are looking for partners in a particular area, we reach out to everyone in the relevant regional team and encourage them to send ideas of potential collaborations.”

Mazur reiterated their points but added some insight about what she does when she can’t reach potential partners through her colleagues, “Generally, I’ll see if anyone at HubSpot already has a connection to someone at the partner company. If not, I’ll reach out to a partnership, BD, or marketing person at the company on LinkedIn, using their InMail tool.” As I mentioned earlier, no matter how you reach potential partners you need to do so with a personal touch.

Do your homework. Make sure you have a firm grasp on the nature of the company you’re contacting, what it might need out of a co-marketing partnership, and what you can do to suit its objectives and interests. Or as Landecy said, “Make sure your outreach is personalized! Showing you did the research before reaching out shows you are invested in the potential partnership and makes their work feel special!”

But let’s say you don’t have the know-how and personal connections to identify and reach potential co-marketing partners. You’re at a loss when it comes to finding interested companies whose size, values, and interests line up with your own.

What can you do? Well, there are certain tools designed to expedite the process. For instance, Crossbeam is a resource that leverages CRM data to help you find and connect with potential co-marketing partners with overlapping customer bases and other complementary attributes.

Ultimately, a solid co-marketing partnership has tremendous potential that’s only seen after tremendous effort. It often takes extensive research and critical thought just to identify the companies that suit your values, goals, and qualities. And actually conducting the necessary outreach and communication to establish one adds a whole new, often exhausting layer to the process.

Still, there’s a lot to be gained from these kinds of arrangements. If your business is looking for a shot of life to your marketing efforts, pursuing a co-marketing partnership is something to consider.

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