Building and promoting a Shopify store can be a grind. That's why more and more stores are looking for ways to boost their cred (and profitability) through brand marketing partnerships.
Teaming up with another brand to boost awareness and profits is nothing new. Everyone from Bonne Belle & Dr. Pepper to BMW & Louis Vuitton has joined marketing forces in the past—with epic results.
The good news is, you can use some of the past brand marketing partnerships to build your own partnership ideas for your Shopify store.
In this guide, we're going to walk you through six examples of successful brand marketing partnerships, and how you can replicate their success stories into your Shopify store.
Partnering up with another brand is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book.
However, a lot of Shopify owners struggle to see how a partnership can work in eCommerce. The reality is, it's the message behind the partnership, and the way a campaign is built, that makes it successful—not the platform the products are being sold through.
The positives for partnering with another brand are endless. Firstly, your store builds up a strong partnership with another brand and boost your bottom line. And if the partnership is successful, it can make your store a more sought after choice for other stores wanting to partner up.
The big win of partnering up is, more often than not, one of the brands is a little less known than their partner. Not everyone will be willing to spend their hard-earned cash in an eCommerce store that hasn't built up its name yet. But partnering with a brand that's doing well in the eCommerce space? Yeah, that's going to drive traffic straight through your doors.
Not only will partnerships make you more reputable, but it can also decrease the risk for shoppers that are making a purchase on a new site for the very first time.
But other wins come out of successful brand marketing partnerships.
When it comes to marketing budgets, it's only natural that one partner will have a larger budget than the other. If you're joining up with another brand, the budget burden of marketing a new campaign or product is instantly halved.
But it's not just about chopping your marketing budget. Any influencers, bloggers, and high-level journalists that your partnering brand has relationships with can also be opened up to your store. Use them to your advantage.
Okay, so the advantage of being able to join budgets with a partnering store is a big one.
If you do decide to join forces with another store, you can pool money for a cash award or products for a bundled giveaway in exchange for a customer's email address.
The reward? You will be collecting a bunch of new email addresses for remarketing campaigns later, long after the partnership has run its course.
Whether the partnering store is selling similar products to yours or they're in a completely different field, combining brands means you can bring a ton of awareness to your brand through new audiences.
According to Gregory Pollack from MarketingProfs, the secret to a partnership's success and awareness relies on integration.
"Well-crafted partnership brand marketing should include every possible touchpoint that your business has with its customers—both traditional and non-traditional marketing, including the Internet, special events, advertising, promotions, public relations, packaging, merchandising, and a host of other marketing components," he writes.
"Marketing alliances don't just present an opportunity to create promotions; they also establish a base from which to create distribution opportunities, providing a great chance to leverage either geographic distribution or merchandising within a store."
Okay, so now you know why you should be partnering up with another brand. Let's look at how you can use past successful brand marketing partnerships to supercharge your own successful campaigns.
The popularity of the Apple Watch has been insane. The product has outsold every last one of the biggest names in the watch industry over the past two years:
In 2018 alone, Apple sold 22.5 million of its trademark watches. It makes sense, then, that fashion giant Hermès was keen to get a piece of the (Apple) pie.
The partnership between the two brands was first carved out in 2015. It proved so popular that Apple geared the release of the third Apple Watch around the new Hermès Apple collection.
It's a super smart collab. Not only has Apple been able to market the Hermès version of the watch at three times the regular sales price ($1400 a pop), it has also exposed their product to more fashion-conscious consumers.
Fashion Director Roseanne Morrison said the collab has proven a success for both brands.
"I think some of those collaborations have been good for both brands because it elevates some of these long-term heritage brands to a new level of technological synergy that can help them get younger customers," she said.
If you are struggling to crack into a new market, this type of campaign is perfect for getting consumers to look at your products in a whole new light.
Has a tech store caught your eye recently that you can see matching up with the quirkiness or edginess of your own store? Do you own an office supply store that is struggling to crack into the millennial market?
Reach out to a brand which is absolutely nailing the market you are trying to crack. See if they would be interested in building a product, or joining promotional efforts. Chances are, your potential partner is also struggling in the market that you're dominating.
The partnership works on a two-tiered system.
For the first 3 months, the user gets Hulu for $2.97. After that, they will get both services for $5 cheaper than if they were paying for both services separately.
It's super smart if people were already thinking about signing up for Hulu (it might be the push they need to sign up). And if a customer is already paying for both services separately, it will be saving them money.
It's also a win-win for Spotify and Hulu. Both brands are opened up to a different target audience, and a lot of consumers may be curious to give the products a try purely because of the low price tag.
These partnerships take a lot of work, but the benefits can be worth it.
Even if you aren't selling tech, you can still use this example in your own store. Pair up with another Shopify store, and ask them if they would be willing to bundle some products with yours for a discount.
The best way to do this would be to run a promotional campaign that boosts both brands. Try selling the product bundles on a separate landing page, so you're able to track and measure their success effectively.
Everybody loves free samples.
The key to making sure you aren't throwing away money with free samples is partnering up with a store that aligns with your target market.
HDX Hydration sells clean, healthy hydration mixes for bottled water. They were only just starting out in their Shopify journey when they approached Clean Bottle to collaborate.
HDX Hydration knew they had to crack their target market to succeed. By teaming up with a company that produced easy-to-clean water bottles, they quickly narrowed in on their target market.
The company approached Clean Bottle and asked them to ship free samples of their product with their purchases. This ensured that their freebies were landing in the hands of customers that were already qualified for their product.
Team up with a company that could include your free samples in their shipments. Or go one step further, and offer to include their free samples in your shipments as well.
By having a minimum spend, your partner will also increase their profits on their sales. The allure of a free gift is sometimes all it takes to push the customer to spend more.
There is a reason so many brands team up with a charity. Consumers love to feel like they're helping out society when they make a purchase.
BuzzFeed recently teamed up with Best Friends Animal Society to boost pet adoption numbers.
The idea was simple. The animal charity would tap into BuzzFeed's 200M+ readership, and BuzzFeed would publish an article called, "We Interviewed Emma Watson While She Played With Kittens And It Was Absolutely Adorable."
Obviously, not everyone has a massive readership like BuzzFeed, but the idea is used by charity groups everywhere. Pair up with a company, and consumers will feel better making purchases when they know their money is going to charity.
Pair with up a charity for social cred. Studies show that consumers are more responsive when there is a single charity involved, so approaching one and inviting them to partner up is enough.
Pick a charity that will align with your brand. A 2015 study by the Huffington Post found 92% of companies said brand alignment is the single most crucial factor when selecting a charitable partner, so choose wisely.
For example, if your store sells organic candles, then a charity that helps with environmental causes would be a better fit than a charity that helps with cancer research. Apps like Easy Donation can be customized to include your chosen charity at your checkout.
Making it easier for a customer to donate can be crucial to the success of the partnership and the amount of money you end up raising for them.
Who remembers when Alexander Wang partnered up with H&M? Yeah, it was weird. But it worked.
While H&M is known for their bargain purchases, an entry-level Alexander Wang product can cost hundreds of dollars. The collab seems like an unlikely partnership—until you strip it back to find out what each brand gained from it.
While H&M were able to boost their status as a credible and fashionable brand through the partnership, Wang was also exposed to a new target audience. Customers that might not have thought about high-end fashion before were suddenly being exposed to it in their typical purchasing environment.
The success of the collaboration isn't a one-off. Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Balmain have also had successful partnerships with the clothing shop.
If you're selling up-market items of any description, you're already limiting your market to those with expensive taste.
Think about stores that share a similar style, but offer products at a completely different price point. Reach out and ask if they would be willing to run a cross-collaboration, where you each featured your products on each other's sites for a month.
JCPenney ran a similar campaign recently with brand Sephora. They included a link to the brand in their top navigation, that allowed customers to shop from the Sephora collection directly on JCPenney.
This allows for one-stop shopping and is ideal if you're collaborating with another store but want to retain traffic.
Better yet, you could connect with a brick and mortar store that doesn't have an online presence. Offer to sell their products on your site for exposure, and in return, ask them to give coupon codes to every customer that makes a purchase in their store.
Makeup and… Star Wars? It happened.
In 2015, LucasFilms paired up with CoverGirl to create Light and Dark Side makeup lines to win over a younger, female audience.
The partnership meant both brands were given extensive press coverage during the lead up to the film's premiere. And it paid off. 8 weeks of high impact Primetime TV promoting and micro-targeting resulted in a 725% boost in retailer sell-in, and the campaign became the #1 trending topic on Facebook.
It's not the first time CoverGirl had paired up with a film. In 2013, they teamed up with The Hunger Games in a similar campaign that resulted in a 400% sales increase for CoverGirl.
This campaign should be mirrored by stores who are already successful and are looking to open up new target markets. If you are just starting out, try a less-risky partnership from one of the other ideas on our list.
If you're up for it—think outside the box. Reach out to a store that you would never think of partnering up with.
If you own a clothing store, why not try collaborating with a fellow pet supply store? As of now, 70% of all U.S. households now own a pet, and the market was valued at $72.1 billion in the U.S. alone last year. It's statistics like this that prove thinking outside the box could be worth its while when it comes to brand partnerships.
There are a ton of reasons why brands enter into partnerships (and you may be wondering why you haven't tried it before now).
Using another brand can boost your credit and your marketing capabilities. Plus, brand collaborations also offer your store a unique way to expose your brand to an entirely new target audience.
But partnerships aren't easy. To make brand collaborations work, you need to pick the right partner, and put in the groundwork. Use famous collabs (that have worked) from the past to brainstorm ideas about how you could partner up with another brand, and don't be afraid to think outside the box when you're approaching brands to join forces with. Sometimes, the most unlikely brand marketing partnerships turn out to be the most successful.