The word ‘collaboration’ is being thrown around like gifts in Oprah’s Christmas special. From brand-to-influencer collaborations, employee collaboration or collaborative playlists on Spotify, there are many contexts to use the word – but ‘collaboration marketing’ is a strategy that brands and marketers stand to gain from the most.
When complementary businesses team up for a clever marketing campaign, they’re doubling their marketing reach, growing their network, authentically engaging their audiences and they can directly boost revenue streams.
Brand collaborations are happening all around us, across social media, content, products and events. Gorman got collaborative with Guide Dogs Victoria, thankyou and Sarah Kelk hatched gorgeous packaging, and Go-To Skincare teamed up with Hey Tiger for an ethical chocolate flavour.
Everyone’s collaborating, so how can you do it, too?
Tip 1. You’re never too small
It’s a common misconception that you need a big Instagram following, significant cash flow or the ability to ‘give away’ a tonne of product for free, in order to collaborate. The truth is, you can collaborate immediately and you likely have more to offer than you might think.
Over 90% of the collaborations that happen through Collabosaurus require no cash exchange whatsoever. What does this mean? It means that businesses are making the most of what is already available to them to leverage a win/win collaboration. For example – you may have a highly engaged email list and the ability to write an amazing blog post, whereas your collaborator is a keen photographer with excess product available for a giveaway. Win/win!
A great place to start is with social media or content collaborations, like competitions and giveaways, or photoshoot collaborations. This way, it’s fast and super cost-effective to give collaboration marketing a try.
When done right, brand collaborations are one of the most effective marketing strategies (not to mention, through Collabosaurus they’re up to 25x less expensive than other digital advertising!)
Tip 2. Partner up to meet objectives
As with any marketing strategy, it’s incredibly important to consider (and track) outcomes of a collaboration campaign. Make sure you’ve identified your marketing goal ahead of time, and communicate this to your collaborator.
Your partner will have their own goals, too, and it’s important to ensure your objectives are aligned for the best results. If you’re stuck for a creative idea, you can check out this idea and strategy generator for a bit of fun.
We often liken successful collaborations to relationships – values need to be aligned with transparent, regular communication in place. Same goes for wrapping up a campaign, one of the best things you can do is share across results in terms of sales, engagement, traffic, clicks (whatever metrics make sense to track, in line with your objective). We love Bit.ly for tracking links, Dropbox for collaborative file sharing, Canva for whipping up quick co-branded social tiles and Google Analytics / Instagram / Facebook’s own inbuilt analytics are fabulous as well.
Tip 3. Leverage, leverage, leverage!
You could have secured the coolest collaboration in the world, but if no one knows about it, you won’t see results! Make sure you have a promotional plan in place, for both yourself and your collaborator, that reflects a mutually beneficial sharing of marketing duties.
A great tool to consider at this point is a Joint Marketing Agreement, or MOU document. Neither of these are huge, scary legal documents (they’re both quite short), however, they ensure everyone is on the same page and clear on expectations.
You can use some of the Collabosaurus templates and checklists for ensuring you’ve covered all bases with your promotional schedule. Essentially though, it’s about splitting up every promotional channel available to both parties and setting a schedule that hits each channel a few times throughout the duration of the campaign. Consider event audiences, your PR plan, blog posts, social posts (stories, lives, carousels, videos, posts), paid advertising etc.
Tip 4. Get started and mix it into your strategy
Being such a powerful marketing strategy, don’t wait to introduce collaborations into your growth plans and brand marketing! Mix up your collaborators, as well as the types of collaborations you explore to keep your exposure opportunities fresh, and content engaging.
In fact, why not explore a photoshoot collaboration with a complementary brand? Split the cost of a photographer, create beautiful content, cross-promote each other on social media and upload the images on Flaunter! Flaunter allows you to maximise reach opportunities for that additional marketing leverage. Win/win/win!
Here’s how to do brand collaborations, well
1. Get clear on your goals and desired outcomes
Collaborations are a marketing strategy, so they need to have measurable outcomes attached to them from the get-go. Be specific with goals. For example – grow my email list, grow my Instagram following, drive new website traffic, get content created (like photography), inspire press coverage or add a new revenue stream.
2. Know who to partner with
Consider aspects like similar target market demographics, brand aesthetics, aligned goals and whether your potential collaborator can actually help you achieve your desired outcome. Go-to Skincare x Kettle Black? A match made in heaven. Their brand aesthetics were beautifully aligned alongside their social media reach goals and similar community demographics. Win/win.
3. Know your value
How can you add value to a collaboration or partnership? Successful collaborations are all about mutually beneficial exchanges in value, so this step is about getting clear on what you have to offer – in order to achieve what you want. Think beyond social media following, too. Your skillset, time, excess product, email list, blog traffic, podcast listeners or event audiences are all assets you could offer in a collaboration.
4. Get your pitch right
Avoid long-winded, self-interested emails. One of the biggest problems I see with collaboration pitches is that, rather than trying to get the first date, the pitches skip to base 6 and talks of the right school for your future kids! This is also one of the reasons we built Collabosaurus – to get rid of the need to pitch at all. But if you are going to pitch directly to a brand, keep it short, hero what you bring to the table, how beneficial it will be for them and specify a next step (that isn’t an hour-long coffee catch up to ‘chat ideas’). Get the first date, not the wedding.
Keep the creative idea flexible, but don’t budge on your original goal or objective. This allows you to consider both sides of the collaboration to make sure it’s win/win. When everything is agreed on, use an MOU document or Joint Marketing Agreement to get things in writing and get clear on responsibilities (you can find templates for these around the web, or collaboration specific ones inside the CollaboHub).
Split up every promotional channel available to both parties, and set a schedule that hits each channel a few times throughout the duration of the campaign. Think about event attendees, blog posts, social posts, paid advertising, PR connections and media coverage. This is the most important step for maximising the benefits of your collaboration, but it’s one that a lot of newbies miss.
7. Track and communicate
Remember that goal/outcome you had set in stone back in step 1? Make sure you have means in place to track its success. Also, to continue the dating analogy, make sure you keep the lines of communication open with your collaborator. There’s nothing worse than ghosting, and great collaborations often have the ability to blossom into new partnership projects down the track.