The 8 Types of Partnership Marketing (And How to Know Which One Works for You)

8 Types of Partnership Marketing (And How to Know Which One Works for You)

This is a featured guest post from our friends at Dialpad.

“Only connect,” wrote E. M. Forster, summarizing the primary goal of every marketing team across time. One hundred years later, his advice is more sound than ever. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s the value of connection. With such a wealth of connective means at our disposal, it makes sense to make use of it. And one of the most effective business link-ups you can make resides in the wonderful world of partnership marketing

What is partnership marketing?

Partnership Marketing Team

Brand partnerships have been a strategy for businesses since long before the internet was even a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. When one business teams up with another to use marketing resources in a mutually beneficial manner, it’s known as partnership marketing. 

Sometimes, partnership marketing can be a tactical arrangement centering on one relatively small product. Other times, it can be a longer-lasting strategic partnership. 

But what all business partnerships have in common is an aim to bring greater success to each company’s overall marketing efforts. In order to do this effectively, both companies need to communicate well with each other. Whether over the phone or via cloud collaboration software, proper communication is vital for a healthy business partnership. 

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Two benefits of partnership marketing

1. Expand reach to a new market

There are several benefits to co-marketing with another business. First, one organization may have a stronger handle on their marketing strategy than their partner. Or perhaps one business is more adept than another at targeting a particular sector, because of their history or prior associations. This is why partnership marketing is a cost-effective way to expand your business’s reach into a new market. 

Increase sales while being cost-effective

Quite often, a product supplier has quality inventory on their hands, but may still struggle to reach their sales potential. The simple reason? Their marketing isn’t yet firing on all cylinders. This may merely be due to a lack of supplier budget. However, by using partnership marketing, your business is availing itself to another’s marketing operation, a highly cost-worthy option for a low budget. 

8 types of partnership marketing

1. Content co-marketing

In this type of marketing, promotional content is generated and shared with both the involved parties’ audiences. This is one method of a focused global push towards outsourcing content. 

Partnership Marketing Activities Graph

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Sometimes, one party will be the content creators, and the other will focus more on the content marketing strategy. Other times, both businesses will collaborate on content creation and its promotion, from start to finish. However it works, the most important aspect of content marketing is creating relevant content for both your audiences.

Producing joint content gives both businesses more opportunities to gain traction with their audiences. Plus, it provides them with a better understanding of what attracts more particular clients

2. Co-branding

Two brands with separate but correspondent identities can find benefit in collaborating on a single venture. For instance, this joint effort can be communications-based, where the companies share the cost of an ad campaign. Or it can be product-based, where a product combines factors from both companies’ brand portfolios. Other examples include a scenario where one product is powered by another, such as a laptop by a particular OS. 

Companies might even partner on a new service, like a cloud storage facility, where one specializes in private clouds and the other specializes in public clouds. The jointly-produced hybrid cloud then gains the benefit of both companies’ technical expertise. Plus, both businesses are able to combine their joint marketing insights to present a hybrid cloud definition to the market. 

The marketing benefits in linking up like this can be huge, resulting in a revolutionary market entry that is cost-effective for both parties. 

3. Distribution partnerships

When a primary company uses a secondary company’s distribution channels to promote its products or services, this is called a distribution partnership. Distribution partnerships can take several forms:

  • Cross-promotion: customers of one brand are targeted by the promotion of the other
  • Bundling: one product is combined with another
  • Reselling: a go-between buys the product, marks it up, and retails it to the consumer
  • Co-selling: sales teams from both parties pool their operations
  • Lead account mapping: both companies share their lead data

4. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a partnership marketing strategy that uses a publishing partner, such as a blogger or a website. Through this strategy, the company is able to reach a wider audience than they would’ve had through their own advertising alone. 

Using guidance from online affiliate marketing resources, affiliates can promote a product through personal affiliate websites. They can also come up with banner ads for the product or promote it amid their own content, like a blog or newsletter.

Compensation typically comes in the form of pay-per-click or through a commission on additional generated sales.

5. Sponsorship

Often, sponsorship takes the form of pairing a product with public events. Sometimes, this will be a niche event with a small scale sponsor partnership. Other times, it will be an event of national or international appeal. In this case, the figures involved in the event sponsorship are often colossal. 

Global Sports Sponsorship Partnership Marketing 2020-2027

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Big sports tie-ins are a great example of the benefit that a partnership like this can deliver to the business selling the products. If you can align with an event or a team with mass appeal and an aspirational profile, then you have a great example of partnership marketing. Plus, the team’s happy too—they get a paycheck bigger than William Perry.

6. Influencer partnership marketing

Influencers are individuals who use their standing on social media to recommend products and services to their followers. 

In essence, it’s an age-old advertising method with a digital marketing twist. Consumers have always sought guidance from visible influences when faced with uncertainty. In the past, this occurred when people were scared of illness and turned to the superstitious beliefs of those in power. Nowadays, it happens when consumers are overwhelmed by choice. This may lead them to place their trust in a charismatic teenager who has a strong understanding of their online platform and how to use it to their benefit.

Your business can take advantage of an influencer’s faithful following by partnering with online personalities whose lifestyle profile jibes with your product. 

Influencers come in all sizes, so a small marketing budget won’t prevent you from having a successful marketing strategy. Small business ecommerce is a major part of partnership marketing, especially influencer marketing. 

In fact, this type of marketing is now highly regarded as an effective marketing technique.

90% positive response about influencer partnership marketing

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7. White label

White labeling occurs when a manufacturer’s branding is replaced with that of another. This can be in the shape of the complete package, including color, font, and brand voice. Quite often, a retailer will have a range of products that are personally branded, but not made solely by the retailer itself. Here, deals are made with producers in which the retailer’s logo and other branding elements are placed on the product. As a result, this shows consumers that they were created in-house by the retailer, even if they weren’t.

What the manufacturing partner is seeking are benefits gained from the larger brand’s strong reputation. In other words, as with most partnership marketing, white labeling only works when the brand is well-known and well-liked. 

8. Loyalty marketing

Even if you’re a marketing newbie, you’re probably familiar with loyalty marketing as a consumer. This type of marketing rewards consumer dedication to a product or service. Sometimes, it comes in the form of advocacy, such as when a consumer’s zeal for a product is so impressive that they become a brand ambassador. 

Or it might be that a raft of benefits and discounts are offered to consumers who are frequent buyers. These benefits may include offers on the services of other businesses. 

3 tips for finding the best marketing partnership

1. Find a co-marketing partner with a similar audience and goals

First and foremost, you need to select a type of partnership marketing that best fits your business goals. Not only should your marketing deliver the results you have laid out, but also it should achieve these results in a method and style that follows the ethos your business aspires to. 

Consumers are well aware of commercial dissonance. In other words, they notice mismatches of culture and style in a marketing campaign. Consequently, there needs to be a fit between your company’s profile and the partnerships you choose. 

It’s always a good idea to think from the consumer’s mindset regarding any new marketing choices. Moreover, the most essential element of online marketing is being able to put yourself in your target demographic’s shoes and think about what matters most to them.

2. Evaluate potential partner marketing reach

Are your goals centered on generating new leads? Pay attention to what field of potential customers you’re looking to break into. If it’s retirees, then a loyalty deal involving a dancewear brand is unlikely to deliver the growth you’re hoping for. However, sponsoring a daytime TV show may well hit home for this audience. 

Don’t forget to communicate often with potential partners. It doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to keep in touch. Here are some free web conferencing solutions available for businesses of all sizes. 

3. Keep away from direct competitors

It will be counterproductive for you to pair up with a direct competitor. Instead, boost your business appeal by gaining access to a different but related audience. To clarify, you can do this by working with a non-competitor who will also benefit from partnering with you. 


There’s never been a better time to do what the world has been doing since the birth of humanity: teaming up. Additionally, there’s a wealth of strong partnership marketing options available. However, each one suits different businesses and different demographics, so do your research before you leap in. 

To sum up, a misguided co-marketing method can cause great damage to your commercial outlook. But a successful one can reap untold rewards for your business. So make sure to choose carefully. 


Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud PBX platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. She has written for domains such as Brightpearl and VoilaNorbert. Here is her LinkedIn.

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