Corporations can use different marketing concepts to increase their brand visibility and make their products and services known. All have their benefits and shortcomings, which explains why businesses must review them critically before picking one. One of these concepts is affinity marketing, where two parties come together to build a mutually beneficial partnership. How does this work? Simple. One business agrees to offer its goods and services to another organization and gets access to a new market in exchange.
The parties that enter into such an agreement are usually linked by a common goal or interest and are therefore known as an affinity group. This type of marketing requires the affinity group and the business offering the new products or services to link their brands mutually. It can also be referred to as partnership marketing or co-marketing, and its main aim is to increase brand awareness and grow the customer base. Note that the brands should be related but non-competing for this arrangement to work. Let’s take an in-depth look at this type of marketing.
What to Consider Before and During an Affinity Marketing Campaign
By now, you definitely know what affinity marketing is, thanks to our introduction. This second part will focus on some of the strategies you should consider if you want to succeed in your affinity marketing endeavors. Note the following:
a. Find the Right Partner
This is the most important thing to consider before you settle for affinity marketing. You must find a partner that shares similar values and messages with your brand if you intend to communicate your value to a new audience. Also, remember that this type of marketing must offer value to both parties; therefore, find a partner that deals in related but non-competing products or services.
Both brands must relate well to benefit from the arrangement mutually. Here are some of the things to consider when looking for a good brand to partner with:
Before settling on this marketing strategy, you must consider your potential partner’s audience. You both need to enjoy a similar audience. The other businesses should be part of the broader industry but must not compete directly with you if you intend to succeed.
You shouldn’t just partner with any brand. You must consider the value your business will derive from the partnership, which can be an increase in your customer or membership base, exposure to a new audience, or a significant increase in your social media following. Affiliate marketing strategies must be beneficial; therefore, it is important to look into the other party and what they have to offer.
3. Do the Brands Complement Each Other?
Your brands must complement each other for this arrangement to work. This means that both parties must have the same presentation, i.e., their values and image must be similar, not clashing.
4. Customer Base
Before entering an affinity marketing agreement with any brand, you must consider your customer base. Only settle for options that your customer base would not only be interested in but can also benefit from. Remember, you should strive as much as possible not to lose your existing customers in pursuit of new ones.
Lastly, you must ensure that the other brand will offer you something you can’t on your own. If you can do it on your own, then an affiliate marketing arrangement ceases to be necessary.
b. Plan Your Partnership Properly
Once you have found the right partner to enter into an affiliate marketing relationship with, it’s time to get into the details and figure out how things will work. You must agree on what the partnership will involve and create measurable, specific, and detailed goals your partnership will strive to meet. A few goal ideas to agree on include increasing leads, purchases from a given audience, social media following, or brand awareness by a given percentage.
You must also agree on how you will present and market whatever the partnership is about. This means working on the right marketing messages, creating a reasonable timeline, and picking the best channels to advance your co-marketing efforts.
Both brands must be open and transparent in using each other’s brand image, which means sharing the related rules and guidelines. This will ensure that everybody understands what’s forbidden when promoting co-marketing efforts. Seal all these plans with a written agreement showcasing each party’s brand expectations.
c. Encourage Smooth Communication
Most partnerships fail because of poor communication, so if you intend to make your affinity partnership work, smooth communication is key. Research and decide on the best methods to relay important information with your partner that can support real-time decision-making. The method you decide on should help you stay in touch consistently for as long as your partnership exists.
A good communication strategy will promote transparency, which is required for such a partnership to work. Your partner should easily access all the files and digital assets related to the campaign and vice versa. Depending on your goals, plans, and finances, you can settle on a partner portal or partner relationship management software to help you actively monitor your partnership. If you decide on the latter, ensure that you obtain features such as partner onboarding, sales tracking, protected asset storage, and partner portal creation.
Whatever you decide on, ensure you can check the campaign status with your partner.
d. Track Metrics
Affinity marketing doesn’t stop at forming a partnership. You need to record and review data from a given duration to identify trends easily. Both you and your partner should track the goals agreed upon in the planning stage to determine the success of your partnership. Some metrics that apply in such an arrangement include new customer engagement data, sales information, email campaign sign-ups, or follower counts.
Tracking different metrics will tell you which areas should be targeted more for the overall success of the partnership. Therefore, sit down with your partner and identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track across different channels. These indicators normally tell whether your campaign was successful or not.
Since this is a partnership, you will track these indicators on your channels and share the information. An automated tracking method such as a lead management tool would be a good idea. Once you have gathered and shared data, decide which direction your partnership needs to take. Remember, affinity marketing is all about mutual benefits, so both of you have to be involved.
How to Successfully Implement Affinity Marketing
Here we focus on some of the tips to have in mind for successful affinity marketing. They include:
You must be flexible enough to accommodate the other partner for an affinity marketing partnership to work. A good way of doing this is by establishing specific roles and goals that empower each party to focus on their strengths and evaluate performance. If your expectations aren’t being met, don’t resort to doing away with the partnership but try adjusting your roles and objectives. This will help you maintain an excellent relationship with your partner after the affinity marketing campaign ends.
2. Practice Patience
Unless you are partnering with a big and renowned company, affinity marketing can take time. You won’t see success instantly as this type of marketing requires building on existing customer relationships before penetrating a new market. Do not expect all your affinity partner’s loyal customers to become yours instantly; they may need time to start showing some commitment. Do not fault your partner if things do not happen as fast as you thought.
3. Engage Your Partner
You must maintain your partnership through regular communication. Affiliate marketing is meant to be a mutually beneficial arrangement; therefore, maintaining a positive relationship with your partner through regular communication is vital. Do not forget to arrange regular status meetings, discuss important business information regularly, share technology, and dedicate resources. A partnership only works when it is maintained.
4. Be Customer Centric
It goes without saying that the end goal of all marketing strategies and campaigns is acquiring new markets to expand the existing customer base. Your affinity marketing strategy should therefore focus on the customer, i.e., the beginning of your campaign and how you update your products should reflect what the customers want. Therefore, dedicate resources and time to finding out what your customers prefer so that you can develop successful affinity marketing products.
Affinity Marketing Advantages
Have you considered building and executing an affinity marketing strategy for your business? Here are some of the advantages you stand to enjoy:
1. New Customers Reach
It goes without saying that affinity marketing exposes brands to different and new audiences by helping them widen their reach. Both parties, therefore, get a chance to increase their customer base since they explore each other’s markets. Affinity marketing involves related but non-competing businesses, meaning the parties’ customers usually require both services. For example, people who visit Disney World Resort require transportation to easily canvas the area, which Lyft offers as part of its ongoing partnership with The Walt Disney Company. This is a great reason to try affiliate marketing.
2. It Builds and Strengthens Credibility
Affiliate marketing helps you reach a wider audience and builds credibility, trust, and loyalty among them, which is the best way to inspire customers to believe in the effectiveness or value of your company’s offerings. Businesses only partner with entities they trust, a common belief and assertion that will work in your favor when you settle for affiliate marketing. Your partner’s loyal customer base will have more trust in your product and be willing to try them out, which is exactly what you need.
3. Brand Identity and Awareness Promotion and Enhancement
Affinity marketing guarantees greater brand identity and awareness if you partner with the right entities. This means you will get a chance to show your company’s values to customers and target audiences. Remember to partner with brands that share the same messages or values for success in affinity marketing.
As we wind up the advantages, it’s also important to note that this type of campaign is usually highly customizable. Both parties can decide on the affinity marketing products to introduce based on different metrics. It also makes it easier to target the desired consumer base and increase the number of people likely to buy certain products.
Disadvantages of Affinity Marketing
Even with the advantages, we discussed above; it’s important to note that this type of marketing also has shortcomings. Here are a few disadvantages you should be wary of:
1. Difficulty in Finding the Right Organization
Partnering with the right organization is everything regarding this type of marketing. However, getting one that shares your values and messages can be quite difficult, preventing most organizations from trying this type of marketing.
2. The Relationship May Not Be Mutually Beneficial in the End
This type of partnership may not be fair for both parties in the end. Some benefit more than others, given the difference in customer reaction. A party may succeed in winning the other’s customer base through their partnership, while the latter may not be successful. This is a possibility that businesses should have in mind before entering into such an agreement.
3. It Has a Limited Target
It’s important to note that affinity marketing targets fewer people compared to other full-blown marketing strategies. This is because each party targets the other’s customer base, not the general market or populace. This may not be a problem for big brands such as Disney or Lyft, but smaller brands may not be as successful.
4. Profits Earned from Affinity Marketing Campaigns are Usually Small
Affinity Marketing is a small niche campaign, and like other small niche campaigns, the profit earned is usually limited. This is because it targets a smaller audience, i.e., the customer base of the parties, which is relatively limited compared to the general. Like our previous point, this may not be a problem for large corporations, but it’s definitely an issue for smaller ones.
Affinity Marketing Examples
Let’s take a look at a few real-life examples of affinity marketing to help you understand how this type of arrangement works:
1. Red Bull and GoPro
Red Bull is one of the world’s most popular energy drink brands, enjoying a market share of over 35%. It has sold more than 100 billion cans since it was established more than three decades ago, which is commendable. On the other hand, GoPro is an American technology company that manufactures action cameras and develops video-editing software and mobile applications. It is quite clear from their offerings that both companies are into high-adrenaline adventures.
The two companies decided to partner in 2012 in support of a great skydive from a balloon. Both played different roles, i.e., Red Bull sponsored the event while GoPro offered an action camera for the skydiver to capture the jump. Later, the companies decided to form a lasting partnership for extreme sports events sponsored by Red Bull, such as the famous Red Bull Rampage. During such events, GoPro provides powerful cameras to capture participants’ points of view. This is a classic example of an affinity marketing agreement.
2. Chase and British Airways
Chase, fully known as JPMorgan Chase, is one of the world’s most recognized banking and money management companies. It is headquartered in New York and is known by most people as a credit company. On the other hand, British Airways is the main Airline in the United Kingdom. It has a fleet size of 257, travels to 183 destinations, and is headquartered in London, England.
The two companies partnered a while back and unleashed a British Airways-branded Visa card only available to Chase customers. Those who use the card earn Avios reward points that can be used to cover their future flights with the Airline. Users also start enjoying British Airways benefits as soon as they open the account. Red Bull and GoPro, are two related but non-competing companies coming together to build a mutually beneficial brand.
3. Disney and Lyft
Walt Disney, commonly known by its second name Disney is a multinational entertainment and mass media conglomerate headquartered in California. Some of its subsidiaries include Walt Disney World Resort, Hulu, Pixar, and shop Disney. On the other hand, Lyft is a mobility company headquartered in San Francisco. It offers an array of services, including and not limited to ride-hailing, motorized scooters, vehicles for hires, and food delivery.
These two companies partnered to come up with the Minnie Van Service that families can use to easily access and move around the Walt Disney World Resort Area, one of the biggest subsidiaries of Walt Disney.
4. Taco Bell and Doritos
Taco Bell is one of the world’s most famous fast-food restaurant chains. It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands and has been in existence for six centuries. On the other hand, Doritos is a PepsiCo subsidiary that produces flavored Tortilla chips and has been operating since 1964.
The two companies joined to create the Doritos Locos Tacos menu items, which can be bought at any Taco Bell location.
We hope that we have exhausted everything you need to know regarding this type of marketing. Make sure you find a partner that shares your values and messages before deciding on this type of marketing and plan your arrangement to increase your chances of success. Feel free to refer to our article if you feel stuck.