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.
Regatta is The Original BrandAgent, singularly focused on Partnership Marketing. Sam Kaufman is the founder and Chief BrandAgent.