If you’re a startup currently feeling the pain of audience growth, you’re not alone. It’s one of the biggest issues for new businesses. When you find yourself crying out for a wider audience, partnership marketing should be a seriously considered option. If you’re unsure about where to start with this type of marketing strategy, Innovate UK have a few essential tips to help.

Target Businesses Who Speak to Your Audience

“Look outside your industry for examples of successful partnerships you can replicate” – Ryan Leighton, CEO of Leightons Group.

Partnership marketing is actively searching for and working with a complementary company for promotional activity. Ideally you’ll find a brand that speaks directly to your target audience – extra points for finding a brand whose product/service goes hand in hand with your own. For instance, a suit tailor working with a bespoke shoe maker. We don’t want to state the obvious here but you should never approach a competitive brand.

So what can partnership marketing bring your brand?

      • A wider reach
      • A gateway to new audiences interested in your product/service
      • A way to offer your followers value
      • A better brand perception
      • A quick and simple route to consumer trust


Research Your Market

“If you’re operating on a limited budget, partnerships should be the first thing on your marketing to-do list” – Xaver Matt, MD of Netleadz and Angel Investor.

Research is imperative, there’s no two ways about it. You need to partner with the right brand. Look at the market you’re currently operating in. Look towards your customers. What brands occupy the same space which your customers already buy from? When you think you’ve found a brand, ask yourself the following questions:

      • Are the brand’s services/products relevant to your audience?
      • What is their ethical standpoint? Do they fall in line with your own?
      • What can you offer them?
      • What can they offer you?

If you’re set on the brand you’ve found, it’s time to begin the approach. How do they market themselves? Put together a list of ideas for the collaboration. Follow them on Twitter, share their content. Once you’ve opened lines of communication, it’s time to approach – email or direct message are best for this.

Start With Simple Collaborations

“Simple APIs are a great way to hook new partners and gain instant access to their audiences” – Nick Lyons, CEO of Kaptur Software.

Before you go for any big money collaboration, you need to understand whether the partnership will actually work. Social media is the best place to start. Whether you’re running a Twitter competition, Facebook campaign or joint content strategy – social media will allow you to gauge performance without splashing lots of cash.

Once your relationship has developed, it’s worth looking towards more ambitious projects. It’s worth having a discussion to outline your objectives for any joint campaign. This way you can ensure both brands are helping the other as best they can.

Keep Analysing the Data

“Partnering with Zoopla increased our audiences tenfold overnight, gaining us vital user data to refine our proposition” – Barry Bridges, CEO of Property Detective.

How are you going to define success? You need to settle on a metric (or collection of metrics) that really matter to you. This could be traffic to your site, social media engagement or even conversions. If your brand partnership is driven by a more abstract motivation like trust or perception, this will be more difficult to measure.

Once you’ve settled on a metric, you should continually analyse how partnerships are performing. If you do this, you can steer a campaign back on course if it’s not delivering. If your objectives aren’t being fulfilled, the data will allow you to ask why.

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Additionally, you can follow @InnovateUK on Twitter here.