What is Partnership Marketing, and Why Does it Matter?

By Sally Rogers
July 6, 2018

Defining Partnership Marketing

Partnership marketing is a strategic collaboration between two or more organizations designed to help all parties involved grow their businesses more quickly. Organizations that have shared values partner to co-market complementary products (or services) to a like-minded customer base.

What this really means is that by working with other companies that care about the same things that you do, both parties benefit. In the process, each organization enjoys building brand equity, gaining exposure to new audiences, and increasing top-line revenues. When it comes to partnership marketing, everyone involved benefits!

The Foundation: Organizations with Shared Values

Shared values help ensure that organizations are good matches for each other. For instance, if sustainability is written into the core of your organization’s DNA, your partners should also value sustainability. As an example, Patagonia and Fair Trade USA have partnered together to provide Fair Trade apparel to Patagonia’s customers. Patagonia gets to align itself with an organization that ensures workers rights at the same time that Fair Trade USA has the opportunity to supplement worker pay with each garment that is sold. Win-win.

By partnering together around shared values, each organization helps the other build brand equity and awareness around that value. When two or more sustainability focused products appear together, they serve to mutually reinforce each other’s sustainability messages. This makes it super simple for customers to ‘get’ or understand you both.

Complementary Products


The most effective partnerships tend to be between companies that make complementary products. Burgers and ketchup go quite naturally together -- and they have the added benefit of helping to increase each other’s consumption. The more burgers people eat, the more ketchup they are likely to use. Sir Kensington’s and Beyond Meat have tapped into this opportunity by partnering together -- with their shared values around sustainability and better-for-you ingredients -- to bring consumers more of both. The right burger and ketchup partnership has the potential to increase consumption -- and sales -- for both the burger and ketchup company, which makes partnering together a no-brainer.

Like-Minded Customer Base


One of the clear benefits of partnership marketing is access to and exposure to a new audience -- your partner’s audience. They already have relationships with their customers, and perhaps also communities, bloggers, influencers, and content producers that would also enjoy and want to help promote your brand. For instance, GoPro’s outdoor action-focused cameras pair extraordinarily well with Red Bull’s energy drinks. Their customer bases are like-minded: they share a love for adventure, action, and adrenaline-producing experiences.

How to Find Good Partners

Most brand partners today find each other in the old-fashioned way. It’s based on who you know, happenstance (maybe you met the right person at a networking event), or through hard-work, grit, and determination -- and probably a lot of cold emails. Even then, 80% of partnerships don’t work out. Parsnip removes the friction in finding brand partners by matching you with organizations that have shared values, produce complementary products, and serve a like-minded audience.

Types of Partnership Marketing

In our next blog post, we’ll cover types of partnership marketing, including event marketing, influencer and content marketing, distribution partnerships, and others.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, sign up for our beta to begin receiving your free partnership matches!