More and more brands are using brand-to-brand partnerships
to reach highly engaged audiences

What is a brand-to-brand partnership?

Brand-to-brand partnerships constitute the coming together of two brands in a specific campaign with one of the below objectives: 

  1. To monetise your existing audience and push your users towards another brand to convert
  2. To leverage another brand’s audience in order to promote yourself and attract new customers 
  3. To combine both – monetisation and new customer acquisition. 

At Silverbean, we’ve developed a progression model which highlights the strategic journey a brand will typically go on when maturing an affiliate and partner marketing programme.

Traditional affiliate recruitment is typically the basic starting point for most brands, developing into working with content and influencer partners on a CPA basis, then fixed fee placements. Brand partnerships – and brand-to-brand partnerships – sit at the market leader and world-class global end of the scale.

Over the last 24 months, team Silverbean has worked on many brand to brand campaigns. We’ve taken the learnings from working with industry-leading clients, and adapted them to create a process for us to work from internally – and also to share with the wider industry. For us, the goal is not to push brands towards a certain way of working, but to educate the industry on a process that works incredibly well. 

More and more brands are now looking to delve into brand to brand marketing and drive the incredible results we’re seeing market leaders achieve.

What does a brand-to-brand partnership campaign look like?

The below is the process that we follow at Silverbean:

Start by outlining your objectives

Firstly, it’s key to understand what you want to get out of working with another brand. What are your objectives and what is your aim? Do you want to monetise your current audience, or attract a new audience to your brand? Are you open to reciprocal promotions with another brand?

Identify potential partners

You may already have an idea of brands that you want to target to work with on either monetisation or customer acquisition. Consider brands for which your brand can also add value – or any brands that the business works with already. 

As an agency, we use data to identify strong brand partnership opportunities. The purpose of any partnership should be to create a mutually beneficial alignment between two brands, one that enforces trust between the two audiences and adds value for the customer. From our learnings there are three types of partnerships a brand can form. These are:

  1. Primary partners – these opportunities are deemed essential within the customer journey once they have purchased from a brand. For example, if a travel company sells a flight, the user then needs to get to the airport – so transport options would be a primary partner. 
  2. Secondary partners – These opportunities are ‘nice to have’ promotions. The user is deemed “in market” to purchase, however it’s not considered an essential. If we look at the travel example again, a customer that is on holiday might want to know of local cuisine, tickets for an attraction or an event, etc. The user ultimately has a choice to purchase, but they are in that brand’s target market. 
  3. Affinity partners – The relationship between the two brands is not a direct correlation. Affinity partnerships are opportunities to bring two brands together that share similar audiences. To continue with our travel theme,  if a customer goes on holiday, they might want a new suitcase, sunglasses, swimwear etc. The future purchases are generated due to the action of going on holiday, but these purchases might not be the primary aim. 

If we look at where each type of partnership sits within the user journey, it might look something like this:

The idea is that we look to form various levels of brand partnerships for a brand in order to either monetise or acquire new customers. A business might focus on primary partnerships and the affiliate or partner manager can then look to build this out further with secondary or affinity relationships. 

How do I identify opportunities and potential partners?

Leverage the marketing tools at your disposal. Brands often have an engaged social audience – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. At Silverbean, we have a tool that helps us to identify strong brand affinities using audience data.  

For example, when looking at Barbour’s following on social media, we found that 18% of the brand’s Instagram audience also followed Go Pro, 16.7% followed Chanel and 14.5% followed Starbucks, making all of these brands viable secondary or affinity partners. We also saw that 12.7% of the brand’s followers also followed Mercedes Benz and BMW. 

When we looked at the data for Tui, 31% of the brand’s audience also engaged with ASOS, 28% Topshop and 27% River Island, opening the brand up to potential fashion partnerships. In the beauty sector, Benefit Cosmetics shared a 24% audience and MAC Cosmetics 23%, and in the food and drink sector, 18% of the TUI audience engaged with Nandos. 

The above tool is not only limited to brands – we can also see the overlap in regards to influencers, media publications, sport, music interests and more. By using this data to identify common audiences and brands, you can manage relationships and move each partner into the required tier for maximised impact. It also helps brands to build internal business cases for the campaign marketing exposure or spend.

Building brand-to-brand partnership campaigns

When aiming to develop a brand to brand partnership over time, it’s important to prove that there is a commercial benefit in a relationship first, in order to support wider team buy-in as the opportunity develops. 

The below process looks at how you can develop a partnership opportunity. 

Use resources you already have

If you’re looking to test and learn through a campaign with another brand, look to utilise your affiliate mix to drive a campaign. By using each affiliate mix you will be able to see if there is a commercial benefit in setting up a relationship together. 

For example, ATG Tickets, a box office for over 40 venues across the UK, has an affiliate mix that is heavily dominated by ticketing content publishers. Travel brand, Secret Escapes, works with numerous travel-related publishers. We aligned the brands by setting up a mutual promotion: buy a ticket for a certain show and get a discounted rate at X hotel via Secret Escapes. 

Increase digital activity

Think about bringing together some managers of ‘quick win’ channels such as PPC, paid social, and email to get their thoughts on a campaign utilising affiliate deeplinks. Paid social and email campaigns to promote both brands (or one) are great techniques to turn around a campaign with minimal resource. 

As the relationship develops, each brand can segment data strategically in order to ensure the campaign is relevant and on brand. 

Final step – full collaboration

The above step will have given stakeholders an experience of working together, and evidence of the relationship’s value against your objectives. If things are going well, further collaboration and making an official partnership should be the natural next step.

This might then turn into resourcing full integrations within the core website to promote the service, integration into the booking flow or additional marketing activity such as sponsorship, offline promotions, in-store activations and more.

Final thought

From the above, you can see the step-by-step process we follow at Silverbean in regards to brand partnerships. That said, we’re happy to give a helping hand to brands in the form of: 

  • Brand partner identification
  • Introductions to other brands within our open brand network
  • Supporting you to deliver brand partnerships 
  • Managing the entire process of brand to brand partnerships – monetisation, new customer acquisition or both. 

If you are interested in brand to brand partnerships, feel free to reach out to Nic Yates at nicholas.yates@silverbean.com to be added to our open brand partnerships network. This is free of charge – we currently have 100+ brands and points of contact who are engaging with each other to establish campaigns globally.

Want to learn more?

Get in touch with Nic Yates to discover more about brand-to-brand partnerships and our six key partner channels.

Nic Yates, Performance Account Director:

nicholas.yates@silverbean.com

+44 (0) 191 249 9501