Brand to brand partnerships are the Mecca of the new partnership world. While brands have always partnered with other brands, these partnerships are still aspirational in many ways. They require the most drastic shift from thinking and operating like a traditional affiliate manager. Historically, these types of partnerships may have been dealt with by a business development deal. Yet, by leaning into the partnership program, these deals have a framework -- commissions structures, clear KPIs, tracking and attribution -- all provided off the bat. This allows brands to scale up their brand to brand partnership efforts.
Finding the Right Brand Partners
Partnerships between brands are highly specific to a given client but share some elements. Partners must be complementary. If our client is a product, then the partner could be a tangential product or offering. For instance, if someone is buying a flight, they may also need a place to stay and may even need to rent a car. If you are the accommodations provider, partnering with an airline to promote local listings at the destination makes perfect sense. Likewise, if a partner has access to tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, and our client is a tool that can help these SMBs, we can try to see how we might promote our client's offering in a way that makes the partner even more valuable to their customers.
Attribution, Business Model, and Program Maturity
Identifying a mutually beneficial exchange beyond commissions requires thoughtfulness. These relationships are delicate and often require striking a meaningful balance between incentives and value. For instance, while a content site may find thousands of dollars in commissions meaningful to their bottom line, an airline partner is unlikely to be moved by a few thousand dollars. However, they may, instead, be moved by having brand affinity to an upcoming, culturally relevant and loved brand. Or, the airline may simply be thinking of ways to provide additional value to their customers post transaction and feel connecting their customer with a reliable, trustworthy provider is an act of value. Finally, there are brands that may value commissions as they may pass the commissions back to their customers in the form of some sort of reward. This becomes a way of keeping the consumer within their ecosystem as they'll have to redeem the rewards.