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3 Innovative Marketing Partnership Lessons Companies Can Borrow

Multi-channel Marketing Partnership

Pokémon Go went viral this July, thanks to the success of a marketing partnership between the Pokémon Co., Nintendo and Google spinoff Niantic, Inc. After months of buildup that began with a trailer in September 2015, Niantic kicked off the launch of Pokémon Go July 6 with a tweet heard ’round the Internet.

Retweets, social sharing, and word of mouth did the rest, and within two days, Pokemon Go had added $7.5 billion to Nintendo’s market value. This spectacular success illustrates how effective marketing partnerships can be achieved when done right. Here are three case studies of successful marketing partnerships between major corporations that other companies can emulate to boost their own marketing results.

Apple and IBM Marketing Partnership

Since 2014, Apple and IBM have worked together to develop app solutions for enterprise clients. The alliance was motivated by Apple’s desire to branch from the consumer market into enterprise markets. IBM had deep roots with enterprises, even though its brand had lost some of its clouts following Microsoft’s capture of the PC market.

Together, the two companies worked in teams out of the Apple campus to help enterprise clients develop customized apps to meet the specific needs of their industries. Within 17 months, the alliance had produced 100 enterprise iOS apps, with industry-specific functions and serving 65 professions across 14 industries, including healthcare, travel, and transportation.

A lesson other companies can draw from the Apple/IBM alliance is the value of finding a non-competing partner who already has a customer base you’re trying to reach. By partnering with IBM, Apple was able to increase its customer base in various niches of the enterprise app market. An example of how to put the same strategy into action is illustrated by how insurance companies often team up with banks, enabling them to promote their services to bank customers.

Papa John’s and Ghostbusters Marketing Partnership

marketing partnership

For some diehard fans, the soon-to-be-released Ghostbusters reboot may not live up to the original. But even if some remakes fall flat, Hollywood does know how to run a joint promotion. One of the numerous joint promotions Sony is running for the new Ghostbusters movie is a campaign with Papa John’s. In a TV ad to promote the campaign, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter appears dressed as Bill Murray’s character in the iconic scene from the original film where Murray got slimed.

The ad simultaneously promotes the movie and Papa John’s, which is giving away Ghostbusters jumpsuits and selling a new pizza brand that appears in the film. Papa John’s says it sees the promotional campaign as reaching two of its target audiences: those old enough to remember the original film, as well as younger millennials who are seeing the franchise for the first time. Other companies running joint promotions with Sony for the film include Coca-Cola, Hostess Brands and Orville Redenbacher’s.

This type of joint promotional partnership illustrates another strategy businesses can borrow: Team up with a promotional partner that wants to reach the same target audience. This type of partnership splits the cost of promotion. The National Federation of Independent Business suggests companies deploy a similar strategy by sharing the costs of co-branded ads.

Goodyear and NASCAR Marketing Partnership

Sponsorship is another effecting method of a marketing partnership. Since 1954, Goodyear has supplied tires to NASCAR, and since 1997, the tire manufacturer has been the sole supplier of tires to vehicles racing in NASCAR’s top-three series. By partnering with NASCAR, Goodyear boosts its brand credibility by associating itself with professional drivers, while simultaneously gaining exposure to a large, national audience of car enthusiasts.

Sponsorships are a cost-effective way to promote a business without large advertising expenditures, according to Inc. contributor Drew Hendricks. Companies can start a sponsorship promotion by:

  • Contributing equipment to an event or team (like Goodyear)
  • Making a cash donation to a nonprofit
  • Offering prizes for a contest another company is running
  • Donating a service pro bono

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