Perfect Partnerships: Mediator's Tara Honeywell on partnership marketing (Part One)

With huge sporting events such as the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games dominating media schedules this summer, the value of brands working together towards a shared goal (pardon the pun) has never been more prevalent. Partnership marketing and brands collaborating on marketing initiatives is becoming more commonplace, but what do marketers really feel about partnership marketing?

Partnership marketing specialists Mediator recently conducted qualitative and quantitative research among some 2,000 marketing director and managers to examine the current marketing landscape and the role partnership marketing plays within the wider marketing mix whilst highlighting best practice for the discipline.

The full Whitepaper is available to download from the Mediator website ( but here we present some of the key findings form the report:

Over 80 per cent of respondents believe partnership marketing has a high ROI and 86 per cent agree it’s effective however, less than five per cent of overall marketing budgets are allocated to this area.

A large proportion of respondents (66 per cent) spontaneously agree that partnership marketing is an effective way of growing awareness and reaching new audiences, to target new customers, to develop and foster brand equity, enhance brand propositions, challenge perceptions or to venture into a new market.

When prompted 88 per cent agree that partnership marketing provides exposure across both brands’ channels and 83 per cent agree it can expand the brand audience: when asked to select a single most motivating factor for using partnership marketing, 24 per cent selected this option above all others.

Partnership marketing is seen as a cost effective marketing tool, which is particularly pertinent when marketing budgets are being squeezed: 32 per cent of respondents to the online survey spontaneously felt this was a strong motivation to use partnership marketing.

When prompted 70 per cent of online respondents agreed that partnership marketing is a ‘cost effective way to expand brand capabilities: a brand can utilise a partner’s capabilities and not incur a development cost’. When asked to select a single most motivating factor for using partnership marketing, 20 per cent selected this option.

While 63 per cent of online respondents state that currently less than zero to 10 per cent of their marketing budget is assigned to partnership marketing, interestingly 45 per cent claim this has increased in the last three years. In terms of expanding partnership budgets, in some cases entire branches of companies are changing to embrace partnerships over old marketing methods, such as replacing sponsorship departments with partnerships.

In order to justify budgets and challenge traditional perceptions, partnerships need to ensure they have systems in place to measure ROI – this is claimed to be a concern/ consideration for around three quarters of online respondents.

One of the most effective aspects of partnership marketing is felt to be the ability to tap into people’s passions, making an emotive connection to the modern consumer, using a relevant, engaging and ultimately effective strategy. This theme is repeated across the study and it was agreed that the customer experiences created via partnership marketing strategies are more powerful because of the level of engagement and integration within consumers’ lives. When prompted 71 per cent agreed that partnership marketing offers ‘depth of communication’. Not a 30 second advert, but a considered project tailored to meaningfully engage the two brands’ target audiences.

83 per cent of online respondents agree that partnership marketing provides the ‘ability to achieve something your brand couldn’t do on its own’: when asked to select a single most motivating factor for using partnership marketing, 22 per cent selected this option. Take Nike for example who teamed up with Apple to create the Fuel Band; an innovative product which successfully fused the two companies’ expertise in technology and sport, to create an innovative and market leading piece of wearable technology.

Also 16 per cent of online respondents spontaneously state that ‘collaboration’ is the word that describes a successful partnership, followed by ‘creative and innovative’ (12 per cent).

78 per cent of online respondents feel that ‘a collaborative approach’ makes for a successful partnership. An example that was given was the collaboration between Stella McCartney and Adidas – a partnership that produced a unique product from collaboration between two creative philosophies.

Another key benefit of partnerships is felt to be the creation of content from having two brands working together: a new concept can be brought about by aligning the values of the two brands which is exciting and engaging for the consumer. The gains that can be made by working with another brand are identified as significant: 68 per cent of online respondents agreed that partnership marketing ‘creates engaging and more creative content’. As some brands are not necessarily experts in the area of content creation, partnership marketing is very important and relevant in this area: it can be used as a platform to both create and then promote content.

This report concluded marketing strategies that incorporate partnerships within the wider marketing mix were more powerful than those that didn’t and over 70 per cent of respondents agree partnerships added a level of depth that more traditional communication plans could not deliver.

Part Two to follow soon.

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