How a popular political campaign strategy – Relational Organizing – applies to partnership marketing, and how you can use it to boost sales and earn trust in your industry.
Have you heard of Relational Organizing? It’s become an increasingly important strategy that’s employed in today’s political organizing world. Put simply, it is a form of organizing that prioritizes relationships, using them to motivate and provoke action around a common belief or goal. The practice is built on the central principal that it's easier to convince a friend of something than it is to convince a stranger.
Relational Organizing gained a lot of traction during the 2018 election cycle – supported by the introduction of apps such as "VoterCircle, OutVote, Team App, MyRVP and VoteWithMe". This popular, intuitive idea helped candidates circumvent some of the problems of traditional campaigning. For example, those who campaign over the phone typically only reach 3-5% of the people they call.
It sure is hard to convince someone you can't even talk to. It's pretty easy to understand how this number could rise if organizers were reaching out to contacts they had already formed relationships with.
Relational Organizing is a simple notion that can quite easily be applied to marketing.
It goes without saying that people are more likely to support and connect with those they know and trust. Many brands already enjoy the sort of trust and connection with their audience that is so coveted. So why not utilize the audience connections established by one brand to benefit your brand too? Unfortunately, many brands don't even consider leveraging relationships with other brands.
Partnership Marketing is a wholistic and natural way to make use of untapped resources.
By linking brands with common goals, ideas and target audiences, allowing them to piggyback off of existing connections, brands can find even more powerful connections with new and compatible customers. Employing strategic marketing partnerships for this purpose is a clever way of saving both time and money.
Brand relationships can be difficult to build – you need an expert in your corner.
Building partner marketing relationships is more than simply throwing around resources and hoping that something sticks. It requires careful planning as well as time and effort to introduce and establish the relationship because the partnerships themselves are also built on brand integrity and trust. Most brands do not give partnership marketing the attention it deserves. So the best approach is to work with a third party who can accurately represent your brand to get in front of the best and most appropriate partner brands, enabling you to efficiently reach the audience your company desires.
I spent years working as a music talent agent, a world with relationships at its foundation. It is this background that inspired the creation of Regatta and the approach we take to building strategic marketing partnerships. Having also worked on an historic and groundbreaking election campaign in 2008, I witnessed firsthand how relationships have the power to drive voters to the polls and encourage social action.
Perhaps you’ve struggled with the first step or made promising initial connections only to have co branding efforts fall apart after the first phone call. My agency Regatta has a team of highly trained staff – we call them BrandAgents – with the know-how to build relationships and negotiate marketing partnership deals on your behalf. Contact us if you would like to learn more about what we can do for your brand.
How you can use marketing partnerships to underwrite the cost of employee wellness programs and provide unique health-oriented employee benefits that support your total rewards strategy.
Spring has sprung in New York. It means people get outside more and the inevitable cleaning begins. For some this doesn’t mean getting rid of dusty goods that you suddenly realize you don’t use. It means spring cleaning your health. Research shows that warmer weather and higher body temperatures improves overall alertness and mental performance.
Wellness is a Billion Dollar Plus Industry
In recent years, it’s also become prevalent at the corporate level where businesses have been seeking to offset their growing healthcare costs by offering their employees health-oriented incentives such as weight loss or fitness enticements.
But as it turns out, the wellness incentives and activities actually do not reduce costs for most companies. Premiums and overall corporate healthcare costs don’t go down. And health stats don’t move (blood pressure, sugar levels, etc.).
In 2018, 82% of companies with 200+ employees offered some type of wellness program as part of their total rewards strategy. The majority of these firms offered programs to help workers identify health risks and unhealthy behaviors such as smoking cessation, weight management, and behavioral or lifestyle coaching. Some even provide financial incentives up to $2,000. However, a recent study in the Journal of American Medical Association showed no differences in clinical measures of health to justify spending and outcomes.
Yet Employees DO Have a High Level of Engagement in These Programs
So, what should a business do? It puts many in a strange predicament. Do we invest in programs that are beneficial to staff and have some potential benefits, but that don’t have a cost benefit? Most companies are looking at some type of measurable ROI instead of an intrinsic indicator like employee happiness and long-term retention.
At Regatta, we’re big fans of strategic partnerships as a way to improve ROI. With that in mind, here are three suggestions for partnership programs that might take the edge off the investment, yet still offer morale and retention value to your employees:
1. Barter With Wellness Companies
Find partners that offer a wellness-related service to your employees and find a way to barter with them. This could include exposure on your website, profiles in a company newsletter, co-branded social content, anything that will give a partner some added exposure. If you approach a brand with a subscription service, think about offering a short-term free trial to your employees in exchange for free branding or advertising in your office or on your social media accounts. After a period of time, the partner could aim to convert your employee audience into longer term customers too, something that would benefit all parties.
2. Leverage the Power of Sampling as Gifts
A lot of products in the wellness category have sample sizes and your business might be the perfect, controlled environment for sample distribution. In exchange you can agree to let a brand talk to your employees about their brand proposition, offer additional discounts, etc. Sometimes small companies will come into businesses for a health fair in which they offer samples plus the opportunity to educate employees about their programs.
3. Offer Value Through Affiliate Marketing
Consider promotional platforms that could actually make you money. If the company doesn’t want to give anything way, they could consider offering a discount to a service and for employees that sign up. You could even structure the deal so you get a piece of the pie. It’s exposure for your brand and an opportunity for theirs and could end up making you money in the end. That’s good synergy and another way to improve your marketing ROI!
Overall, Be Creative
You don’t have to lay out funds to offer your employees a way to take back their health. Instead find good partners and negotiate the right deals to make you smarter and more effective. You certainly don’t have to lose money in the process. Which is always a good thing.
Regatta has developed numerous health and wellness-oriented loyalty programs and offers for brands including New York & Co, United Healthcare, Abbott Nutrition and AdvantageCare Physicians. Feel free to reach out if any of this strikes a chord and you’d like to explore potential opportunities for your brand too.
Intersect by Lexus: Taking a closer look at the new Manhattan restaurant – as a marketing partnership, and as a branded experience.
Does anyone really need a new-car smell in anything other than a new car? I wanted to find out, so I paid a visit to Intersect by Lexus recently. Let’s be clear, it doesn’t really smell like a new car. It just wants you to think it should.
There’s been a lot written about this new permanent concept - Lexus’s restaurant-bar-space that doesn’t sell cars (although you might see a few on display). What it sells is the brand experience. Of course, they hope that down the line, you eventually buy a car… because of the way the brand made you feel. It’s all about the brand experience.
This Concept Of The Destination Brand Activation Isn’t New
We see more of these popping up every day in NYC. From MINI’s A/D/O workspace in Greenpoint to The Spotted Cheetah pop-up in TriBeCa and even a few years back when Kellogg’s NYC cereal bar/café first took over Union Square. Sure, they look cool and are new and original, but are they really worth the investment?
A Fundamental Difference: What Consumers Need vs. Want
Research shows that there is a difference in giving consumers what they want versus what they need. Is Lexus (and others) really giving the consumer what they need? Or are they simply giving them what they want?
Back to Intersect, rather than a partnership, it felt more like a bought and paid for advertisement, one that I, as the consumer, was even being asked to foot the bill for (along with gratuities!). Everything from the car-parts inspired artwork to the very carefully chosen books on the shelves seemed intentionally planned (no doubt by a smart and well compensated agency) to create what seemed all too obvious.
Lexus may have been trying to mold my emotions but honestly, I kept feeling like I was at the New York Auto Show (with better food, of course). We might feel some level of emotion in these environments, but we aren’t stupid. We know we are being sold to, even if it’s in a tangential way. The question I kept asking myself is what value is this bringing to my life? The answer I came up with was none.
A Better Way: Marketing Partnerships
The good news is that taking a more strategic approach to marketing partnerships can often be much less expensive and accomplish the same thing. Finding a brand partner that is already connected with your target audience can allow you to more seamlessly elicit the same emotional connections.
And once you’ve found the right brand partner, often barter marketing can be leveraged to eliminate or reduce the upfront investment of building out your own branded space. And best of all, with the right strategic brand alliances, you will be perceived as giving that audience something new. Giving them something they need.
Sam Kaufman is Founder and Original BrandAgent at Regatta, the agency that specializes in creating and negotiating B2B marketing partnerships.
Missing the Big Issue
The bad news is that it’s detracting from the real issue – the fact that people aren’t drinking beer like they used to. The two companies were supposed to partner to help their industry address this issue. Now they’re fighting and the brand partnership is off. Make no mistake, these two companies have always represented competitive brands. But sometimes when the going gets tough, you need to come together in solidarity.
Relationships Are Fragile
It doesn’t take much to turn them upside down. It takes even less when you are rivals or competitors. Marketing partnerships are even more delicate. Mostly, because they are often short term with high stakes and high expectations. When a brand alliance is created, often each has its own objectives to meet. The danger is that brands can easily end up like those managed by MillerCoors and Anheuser Busch-InBev. One day affable, the next day vitriolic. Because everyone has their own interests at stake and there’s no middleman to mediate a truce.
A Skilled 3rd Party Can Serve That Role
Since these third party professionals represent a variety of companies, they excel at first finding the best match. And then just like a dating matchmaker, when problems arise, they can work to put the pieces back together and salvage the relationship (i.e., campaign). At Regatta we call these third party professionals BrandAgents. Look at a BrandAgent like your best friend, the one you can confide in about what you are looking for in a partner.
First Meetings Can Be Deceptive
I’ve been in meetings, introducing two brands that fawn over each other face-to-face. Cooing to each other that a partnership makes perfect sense. But like clockwork, once the meeting ends and brands go back to their respective corners, both tell me in confidence that it isn’t going to work. And that neither really liked what the other had to say. People are afraid to be brutally honest to each other. Less afraid to be honest to the third party BrandAgent.
Having a BrandAgent in Your Corner
The good news is that a skilled BrandAgent can manage the process, with an empathetic ear, and help find common ground. And if all else fails, a BrandAgent can find you a new and more compatible partner -- way before hearts are broken, reputations are ruined, or carefully crafted brands are damaged. Perhaps building strategic marketing alliances is what the beer industry should be focusing on instead of PR showdowns.
Brand relationships got you down? Perhaps it’s time to let a Regatta BrandAgent help you find your groove again. Give us a call or drop us a line – we’re happy to help or even simply be a sympathetic ear.
Recently, I went to the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York. It’s the largest retrospective of his work ever on display. It’s visually stunning and captivates at every turn. Warhol’s work is a phenomenon and remains very culturally relevant today especially after Burger King’s recent unexpected advertisement during the biggest football game of the year.
It wasn’t just the ad itself that was a surprise; it was the teaser social campaign that the brand created around the reveal to build anticipation. It created a stir, generated a lot of questions and ultimately a lot of buzz for the brand.
Unexpected marketing partnerships are a risk that brands need to embrace, especially in a tight media market where the fight for consumer eyeballs is intense. By unexpected, I mean finding a culturally-relevant partner that might not be something most would associate with your brand but that has some elements that might be attractive to a new audience. It’s also a way to surprise and delight existing customers while adding to your brand’s cultural/contemporary authenticity. Moreover, strategic partnerships are a cost-effective way to increase marketing ROI -- if you negotiate your assets appropriately.
5 Questions to Ask
When evaluating a partner, here are 5 questions to ask to determine if it’s right for you and if it’s worth the risk:
Doing The Unexpected
Building unexpected brand relationships can invigorate your brand and create fresh, new opportunities. Sometimes the risk is absolutely worth taking. It might be too early to tell what kind of results the Warhol campaign generated specifically, but the chain’s sales and average profitability of franchises are up in the last year. So, you do the math.
These are just a few of the questions to take into consideration when evaluating a new brand partner. Regatta excels at creating effective brand partnerships and knows all the right questions to ask. Feel free to reach out and I would be more than happy to help you evaluate potential partners, create new opportunities, and increase your marketing ROI with marketing partnerships.
Consider Bartering Instead of "Bucks"
You're worth more than your bank account. Tap into your asset pool of subscribers or customers and monetize your marketing. You're scratching your head and wondering how you're supposed to initiate this process? Let me help you through it and maybe debunk some of those misconceptions that are holding you back.
1. Any Sized Business Can Barter
You don't have to be a giant brand to leverage your marketing assets. The key is to look internally and recognize the inherent value of your core services and products. Then look at your current brand and digital marketing platforms.
2. Existing Partnerships Can Be Revisited
If you're already engaged in a media buy, and you find it successful, don't hesitate to reach out for potential renegotiation and restructuring to incorporate bartering or asset monetization. Just because you may have already committed to a campaign, doesn't mean it can't be tweaked. Reach out to your vendor partners and discuss how your marketing assets or services can best compliment their needs. Or better yet, let us help you with it!
3. Your Audience Is Just As Valuable
Maybe your industry's deliverables just aren't suitable for offering in a bartering partnership. Don't discount your newsletter audience, your social media visibility or your networking strengths. Cross marketing with a strong business partnership can be worth its weight in gold. If you have access to 1,000 people that others don't, it can be more valuable than writing a check. Build a portfolio of your reach and frequency efforts and use those in your asset bank.
Companies have been engaging in marketing partnerships for years. It's important to know you too can benefit from such a platform. Save money. Increase marketing ROI. The good news is, you're not obligated to do it alone. Let us help you start the process and layout a strategy that's ideal for your business. Contact us, engage one of our BrandAgents today and learn how to take the pain out of marketing partnerships!
I was recently reading in AdWeek about several e-tailers that created pop up stores to extend their brand to the real world instead of just being online. It’s a trend for people to crave physical tangible environments in our increasingly digital world. Even just for a moment. Humans need to touch and feel, especially to get a real sense of a brand value proposition. So even exclusively digital properties can benefit from venturing out into the real world so that consumers experience their offerings and make a deeper brand emotional connection. Let’s put it this way, if physical environments aren’t important then why is Amazon making a play into them?
Environments Also Need to Engage
Offering a physical tangible environment is often a win in its own right – just so people can touch and feel and experience the brand outside of the digital world. But brands can’t just recreate their retail environment in real life or it ends up being lackluster. Brands need to offer people something more than just the products available through their digital channels. The environment needs to engage customers in a way that makes it worthwhile for them to visit. For example, Glossier, an online beauty destination, launched with an entirely Instagrammable space allowing consumers to capture their true selves in locations, such as Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, while browsing products.
Partnerships are one way to enhance the physical brand experience.
At Allbirds pop-up, the footwear company did a recent brand collaboration with Shake Shack, which included limited edition cobranded sneakers and a shake created especially for the occasion. These types of ‘collabs’ create a 360-degree experience that is memorable and gives consumers a strong take away that transcends a simple recreation of the existing brand presence. It’s also a win-win for both brands involved. The co-branding partner gets exposure to a new potential customer. It offers value to the pop-up and is a draw for consumers. The two can swap lists, conduct joint promotions and extend their reach to a new audience.
A Bridge to More Meaningful Connections
The real world isn’t going away even though we live digitally. Providing consumers with a bridge between the two can be beneficial and create longer lasting connections. Especially if they are engaging and add value to one’s lifestyle. If you accomplish this, consumers are more likely to remember your destination the next time they turn on their computer.
My agency Regatta has helped many clients create engaging and profitable collaboration. If any of this resonates as relevant for your brand too, feel free to reach out.
The days of fast talking, quick hustling and high-pressure marketing tactics are long gone. Today's consumers are savvy, more informed and digitally connected. As a brand, you're not just selling a product or service anymore. Simply buying media and advertising doesn't do the trick. What you're offering is an experience. And the best way to sell an experience and make it compelling is by telling a story. Customers need to connect and be engaged by your process overall. It's no longer about ads that make people buy. It's about narrative content that inspires people to believe in your brand.
Today, I’m going to highlight how you can leverage your partnership marketing to help drive your brand story, and ultimately your ROI.
1. Every Story Needs a Character
You know your core brand better than anyone else. But what if you could partner your marketing efforts with someone who also speaks your brand language? Every story needs a great supporting character. Even better, find a brand partner that personifies your mission. For example, when Nike chose Michael Jordan, it may have been in part due to his athletic champion status. But M.J. also represents a tough as nails competitor who withstood a lifetime of rejection as a young athlete and persevered to greatness. Jordan never gave up. He just "did it." What a fantastic co-branding partnership for the Nike brand. Now consider your own brand category and product or service model. Who is your Michael Jordan?
2. Engage Authentically Through Narratives
You know that pushing your product or being overly sales driven with your marketing efforts can actually push customers away. You want to be engaging, in an authentic way. Interrupting potential customers with push marketing based on what you think they want to hear will eventually get lost in the digital noise. Brand storytelling should feature your authentic voice and finding the right co-branding partner to boost that voice can be just the marketing narrative you need. Partner with those who can align with your brand’s voice and story. If your story is one of innovation, maybe you are the leader in your industry with a new-to-everyone product, then find a marketing partner that helps elevate your innovation. If your story is of humble beginnings, align your content and partnership messaging with similar struggles to successes. Find the marketing collaboration that can complement your positioning and reinforce your relevancy.
3. Come For The Coffee, Stay For The Company
Use your marketing partnerships to enhance your customer experience. A customer comes to your site to buy shoes but stays on your site because you have relevant fashion news, exciting new lines and offerings, hilarious and realistic how-to videos and a host of interesting marketing partnerships and offerings from supporting brands of interest to your customer. Use your partnership marketing strategy to create an engaging environment all around. Create a brand experience using narrative content that doesn't necessarily focus on your product or service specifically. Instead, focus on inspiring with a group of “friend brands” that speak to authentic engagement.
Finding the best marketing partners doesn't have to be difficult. Start with your brand story and find partners who resonate with it. Tap into the narrative content that buyers really care about, yours! For more ideas to enhance your marketing partnership efforts, brand storytelling or boost your marketing ROI, contact us! We can help you leverage your existing marketing and media assets to reduce costs, create original content and extend your audience reach.
Last month was the notoriously flashy marketing industry event, Cannes Lions. Brands and agencies from around the world convened on the coastline of France to sip Rosé, entertain on yachts (or private beaches) and listen to musings from Facebook, Apple, American Express, Diesel and creatives such as Queen Latifah, Thandie Newton and Conan O’Brien.
The pinnacle event is the awards ceremony and I bring it up for one reason. P&G.
An unlikely winner in two of the festival’s highest profile award categories: Film and Titanium. The lion’s share of attention, literally, has been directed at its snarky and blatantly obvious yet creative Super Bowl spot, “It’s a Tide Ad.” What’s interesting about this spot is not just the creativity (the “duh, this is what a commercial should be” attitude) but who they are marketing to – a new audience of consumers. It’s not your mother’s laundry detergent anymore.
I love when heritage brands evolve. It’s critical in order to market to Millennials and GenZ and even those old GenX fogies’ who engage differently with brands than their Baby Boomer predecessors. They consume media differently and engage with technology seamlessly. As such, brands’ marketing campaigns must add value to a lifestyle rather than simply disrupting it. Sometimes, like It’s a Tide Ad, this involves being obvious.
What do I mean by that? Brands need to engage with younger audiences in a new way. Tide’s ad wasn’t just a film. P&G supplemented their campaign with the right amount of social media marketing too - to get the message across in a clear, amusing but effective manner. It made people think before and after the ads aired that just about anything could be a Tide ad. The campaign naturally drove buzz marketing and connected with an audience whose lives are lived digitally.
Brands need to pay attention to the shifts in digital culture and the way people communicate.
Most importantly, they need to understand that the digital generations appreciate an honest approach that doesn’t try to sugar coat the payback. Brands can be literal with this audience and spell out life changing benefits (especially in a tongue and cheek way).
But not every brand can afford a P&G campaign.
...Luckily there are other avenues for delivering narrative content to the digital generation in a natural, creative way.
Partnership marketing is one of these avenues. Developing a relationship between brands can add value and lifestyle context in a way that doesn’t seem forced and be a basis for narrative storytelling.
A great strategic partnership example would be a promotion between an online fashion brand and a ride sharing service or a digital wallet. The message of “quicker, easier and more convenient” clearly resonates through this type of brand alliance.
Encouraging the digital generation to use one service by providing a value add for the other. It’s simple, useful and cost-effective. Ideally it creates a service affinity too. Sometimes, doing the obvious may actually work.
And best of all: It’s a lot less expensive than doing a Super Bowl ad!
My partnership-marketing agency Regatta helps clients build brand relationships that improve their marketing ROI. Feel free to reach out to us for more strategic partnership examples and to learn how we can help your brand too.
2018 has been declared the year of the woman. She’s fighting back against stereotypes and decades of harassment. The result is that she’s become stronger than ever. A smarter and wiser consumer. Women are no longer accepting the status quo of being marketed as sex objects. In fact recently, I read that Victoria’s Secret is even rethinking how it portrays women in the era of #MeToo after reporting dismal sales these last few quarters.
Yet marketing to women has often been left to the men of the boardroom.
Studies show that even though women account for $7 trillion in spending and influence 85% of all consumer purchases, many businesses don’t provide customer-first marketing – meaning they don’t put her needs above their own business goals. And most women say they want brands to engage with them on their own terms. But, that’s not happening either. Ninety one percent (91%) of women feel that marketers don’t even understand them and many women don’t trust most of the brands they buy. Whoa.
Brands need to support women more than ever and I don’t mean responding with Femvertising. Marketing needs to be strategic, authentic and useful. Look what happened recently with Lean Cuisine The female empowerment message fell flat and came across as patronizing – the complete opposite effect of what it intended. They tried too hard.
Partnership Marketing - An Often Overlooked Approach
One way that brands can demonstrate support of today’s woman is by aligning with brands that can offer real solutions to her lifestyle – especially in non-endemic or unexpected categories. Doing this can really add to a brand’s value proposition and extend it directly to the customer.
Females are the main catalysts behind the purchase of cars, healthcare, housing, food and vacations yet sometimes when brands look at potential marketing partners they go to the obvious – fashion, beauty, etc. Brands need to look outside of their comfort zone to areas such as financial services, consumer electronics, etc. if they want to show “I’m with her”. After all, isn’t the company you keep what says a lot about a brand?
My partnership-marketing agency Regatta has been helping brands more effectively market to women and increase marketing ROI for over 15 years. We’d be happy to help you too.
Regatta is The Original BrandAgent, singularly focused on Partnership Marketing. Sam Kaufman is the founder and Chief BrandAgent.