So you’re ready to reach new audiences and expand your customer base, and you’re convinced of the benefits of partnership marketing. But how do you find the right partner?

The first step to finding a brand to partner with is finding yourself: What is your brand? What are your relative strengths and weaknesses? A thorough SWOT analysis will reveal not only what you need in a partner, but also what you can bring to the relationship. That’s especially important if you are a newer company hoping to pair with a more established brand.

If you’re a small brand working to scale and build credibility, finding trusted name-brand partners with more marketing infrastructure can magnify your reach. Joining forces with a company that has achieved regional, national, or even international success can benefit you, whether as business partners, product distributors, or customers. In that case, remember that you have something to offer a larger brand: You might be the fresh, innovative partner that can bring in new energy — and audiences.

Conversely, you may be a large brand that could reinvigorate your image through a partnership with a buzzworthy startup. Either way, ensure that whatever partner you seek out is forward-thinking and open to new ideas. You want a relationship in which your partner can shore up your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths, and vice versa.

It’s a Perfect Match

As you evaluate potential partners, keep your desired audience in mind and reach out to brands that may be outside your industry but that reach a similar demographic. Sometimes this is obvious, like a supplement company partnering with a gym chain. At other times, these partnerships are less intuitive. For example, SoulCycle’s audience of aspirational urban Millennial women probably overlaps with a healthy fast-casual chain like Sweetgreen, and those two brands could make a productive marketing partnership.

Shared values and goals are important, too. A cognitive dissonance arises when a consumer sees brands together that seem to stand for fundamentally different things. For example, what if a gym chain partnered to sell greasy fast food? It might be tempting to create a partnership with the biggest company that will have you, but your core mission needs to make sense.

Likewise, no partnership goes wrong faster than one in which goals differ dramatically. Nobody wants to feel like he’s carrying all the weight in the relationship. Before getting started, carefully weigh contributions, expectations, and desired outcomes, and make sure everybody is on the same page.

How to Connect With Brand Partners

Finding your ideal partners takes time, practice, and confidence. Follow these four steps to build your brand’s identity and make yourself an attractive marketing partner:

  1. Present your best self. 

    Make sure you position your brand at its best. Just as you wouldn’t show up for your first day at a new job looking disheveled, you ensure that your brand presentation is organized and polished from top to bottom.

  2. Make a unique offer. 

    Sometimes you have to dig deep, but there is invariably something that makes you and your brand stand out. Figure out what that is and lead with it. It may be access to a celebrity or a unique experience or product that no one can get anywhere else. Look for your unfair advantage and leverage it.

  3. Practice and persevere.

    Partnerships require putting yourself out there, which means that some of your overtures will be turned down. Don’t let fear of rejection make you give up before you get started! Instead, take it in stride and work on your messaging. It takes some time to refine your message until you hit on one that works.

  4. Don’t be afraid to call in favors. 

    You might not have a meaningful advantage if you’re just starting out, but you probably do have relationships. Just like your network with friends and colleagues for career growth, capitalize on those relationships to build your brand. You may only have a limited number of favors to call in, but they can be instrumental in getting the ball rolling.

 

These steps will get you ready for partnership marketing, and DojoMojo can help you identify the brands you want to pair with. Ready to find your brand’s ideal partner? Start your free trial here.