It’s a pretty exciting time to be an affiliate marketer. What was once a highly-structured and transactional role, has now become the perfect fit for someone who is both creative and commercial. With the scope of affiliate widening to incorporate a variety of partnerships, the possibilities are truly endless. 

One of the best examples of this comes in the form of brand partnerships. Brand partnerships are certainly the hot topic of the moment, with just about everyone in the industry talking about them in some capacity. Yet, we still aren’t  seeing as many brand partnerships as we would like. So, if everyone is talking about how fantastic these types of partnerships are, then why aren’t we seeing more of them in action? 

One of the most common hurdles to forming a brand partnership is simply identifying which brands you should work with. So, let’s explore some tips and tricks towards identifying brand partners, figuring out what to ask, and looking at those brands you might not be considering, but you probably should.

What is a brand partnership?

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand what a brand partnership is. Just like you’d work with an affiliate partner, looking to drive new sales in return for a CPA, you can also work with a brand partner to attract new audiences, promote each other, or simply drive awareness for each other’s brands. Brand partnerships can be with ANY brand – that means you can incorporate brands from other verticals, brands you consider competitors, even brands you sponsor, for example, sporting teams. 

Why is everyone talking about brand partnerships in 2021?

2020 opened the doors to brand partnership success. As marketers invested more into affiliate budgets, and approaches were changed, brand partnerships became a low-risk, low-cost acquisition strategy for affiliate marketers. They became a great way to diversify your approach, and cut through the noise to consumers. According to Deloitte, “80% of brands who introduced new partnerships during the pandemic see these continuing to be critical post-pandemic.”

Before I jump into the main attraction, I want to be clear: You should never form a brand partnership until you understand what you’re trying to achieve. Once you’re ready, here are some examples of brand partners you might not have considered…

Venturing beyond your vertical

Your brand partner doesn’t have to be in your vertical. But they also don’t have to fall into the traditional vertical bucket of retail, travel or finance. There are many many exciting industries out there that you can connect with to drive new customers. For example, if you’re an electronics retailer, you could partner with a power utilities company to incent new customers to purchase both a new laptop and a new energy provider at the same time. If you’re a furniture store, you could partner with an online education provider so new students can purchase a new desk to start their course. Understanding what’s a natural next step for your customer and then thinking beyond your own vertical, means your creativity has no boundaries, and you’re more likely to target a customer you could have otherwise missed.

Balancing traditional and new:

Whether you’re a shiny new brand who only markets on TikTok, or you’ve been an established business for 100 years, there is no reason why you can’t work together. Just because your audiences aren’t necessarily the same, doesn’t mean they don’t align. For example, if you’ve just launched a D2C skincare range that’s blown up on social media, forge an exclusive partnership with a well-established department store that can promote your range to a wider audience. Whatever your scenario, taking this approach means you can actually target an unexpected customer and significantly increase your new customer acquisition strategy. 

Showcasing a sponsorship:

Gone are the days where sponsorships should sit with your brand team. Collaborate internally and start measuring the sponsorships you already have! Are you sponsoring a large sports team? Do you align with a charity? Are you helping fund a local initiative? Whatever the sponsorship, you can always look to measure and utilise it to achieve your goals. For example, instead of sponsoring a sports team for brand awareness, offer their fans an unique voucher code to shop with you. Don’t dismiss sponsorships and assume they’re all the brand team’s responsibility. Bringing them into your partnership strategy can yield great results.

Always remember when you set your goals and map out your customer journey, the sky’s the limit. Keep searching for your next brand partner. Keep thinking beyond the norm. And most importantly, work with your partnership provider to get them set up! We want to see as many brand partnerships out there as possible.