The word collaboration is being thrown around like gifts in Oprah’s Christmas special. From brand-to-influencer collaborations to employee collaboration and collaborative playlists, there are so many contexts in which collaboration is used. However, when it comes to growing a community and a business, collaboration marketing is the strategy you need to know about.
If you’ve ever spotted the likes of Uber x Spotify, Allbirds x Shake Shack, or Rimowa x Supreme, you’ll know how brand collaborations have the power to spark interest and, in some cases, cause a social media frenzy. So, how do you find your own dream collaborator?
Much like networking, collaboration marketing can be likened to dating in more ways than one. You could say that a dream brand collaboration is like a “friends with benefits” for your business, and you’d be right. Collaborating with a complementary brand has benefits, for example, you can use them to:
In fact, Collabosaurus ran a research study that found collaborations to be up to 25x less expensive than digital advertising. Want to get on the collaboration marketing bandwagon? Here’s what you need to know.
1. Know your value.
Collaboration marketing is all about win/win value exchange, and you likely have a lot more to offer in a collaboration than you think. You don’t have to have an immense social media following, significant cash flow, or the ability to just give away “free things” in order to collaborate. Collaboration is about leveraging what your business already has to benefit another business and vice versa.
Perhaps you have a cool office or event space, content creation skills, excess product, an engaged social media community, or an email list—collaboration is possible for all brands, big or small, it’s about getting creative with value. Start conversations with what you can offer in a collaboration, then ensure that you’re communicating your marketing objectives.
2. Find the right partner and tie your collaboration to a marketing objective.
How do you find your dream collaborator? Start with complementary industry spaces. Look for companies that share values, objectives and have a similar brand aesthetic and target market to your business (so that any cross-promotion is super valuable).
When it comes to finding a creative idea and executing your collaboration, don’t forget that it’s a marketing activity. Just like any marketing strategy, make sure you have a goal in mind, an objective that you can track against (such as growing your email list, getting content created, or increasing event shares on Instagram).
3. Leverage, leverage, leverage!
You could have secured the coolest collaboration in the world, but if no one knows about it, what’s the point? It’s crucial to have a promotional plan in place, for both yourself and your collaborator, that reflects a mutually beneficial sharing of marketing responsibilities. Identify all of the promotional channels and opportunities available to both yourself and your collaborator. Then, set a schedule so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to who is promoting what and when.
Want to keep things #legit? Consider signing a joint marketing agreement, or MOU document to keep things in writing, and using platforms like Bit.ly or Sked Social to track the impact of your collaboration against your original marketing goal.
4. Use collaborations in your broader marketing strategy.
Don’t be afraid to incorporate collaborations into your strategy frequently. Mix up your collaborators, as well as the types of collaborations (social media, product, event, etc.) you explore to keep your exposure opportunities fresh, and engaging.
The benefits of brand-to-brand collaborations are endless, and if you’re interested in giving it a try for your own business, check out Collabosaurus, a match-making platform for brands to collaborate for win-win marketing collaborations that help businesses grow. It’s free to start, takes less than five minutes, and from over 6000+ collaborators to choose from, including Porsche, ASOS, Olay, and RedBull, your dream brand could be waiting for you.
About the Author: Jess Ruhfus is the founder of Collabosaurus, a marketing platform that match-makes brands for clever collaborations and partnerships. With a background in fashion publicity and marketing education, Ruhfus was frustrated sourcing cool brand partnerships in events, products, and social media. So, she launched Collabosaurus in 2015, which has now attracted over 6000+ brands including Porsche, ASOS, Olay, Topshop and one of the largest global retailers in the U.S. Jess has also spoken for Apple, Vogue, and The College of Event Management, splitting her time between Sydney, New York, and Los Angeles as Collabosaurus continues to grow.
This story was originally published on August 5, 2019, and has since been updated.