Growing your agency is hard work. You need to build an audience, sell clients, serve those clients to build relationships. Plus, you need to be doing this all at the same time.

Promotional partnerships can help—as long as you’re using them strategically. Here’s how to use promotional partnerships that help you grow your business:

  1. Choose the right partners
  2. Make the expectations clear
  3. Take advantage of low-life opportunities
  4. Offer an exclusive discount
  5. Check in with your promotional partners

Before we get to the strategies, let’s talk about what a promotional partnership is and why it can be great for your agency.

What are promotional partnerships?

Promotional partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships where businesses work together on creating, hosting, or selling an offer to their combined audiences. That sounds a bit nebulous, right? Let’s consider an example.

Take a look at this co-marketed video from Uber Eats and 7-Eleven:

This is a great example of a promotional partnership. The two companies created and distribute this video that highlights a 7-Eleven signature snack that’s available to order through Uber Eats.

In marketing, businesses will often look for promotional partnerships to host events, create content, or co-market a product with another company. This could be anything from running a webinar together to sending a discount off your partner’s product to your email list or even swapping guest posts. All of these are great ways to increase brand awareness.

Why should promotional partnerships increase brand awareness? Because the ideal promotional partnerships are between businesses that don’t share the exact same audience. Let’s talk more about this—and why that means choosing the right partner is crucial—in the next section. 

How to create effective promotional partnerships to grow your business

Now that you know what a promotional partnership is, let’s run through how you leverage these relationships to grow your agency.

  1. Choose the right partners

In order to have a great promotional partnership, you need to choose the right business to work with. This is the first step, and it’s really important.

Ideally, your audiences will be different, so that you can build brand awareness by getting in front of more people. Still, their interests will need to overlap. That’s why 7-Eleven and Uber Eats in the example above make more sense than 7-Eleven and, say, a London cab company with a similar offer. There aren’t any 7-Elevens in the UK, so while people would likely be interested in ordering food for delivery, they won’t be interested in 7-Eleven. Not a win-win.

Choosing the right brand to work with is also important in terms of building a relationship. The best promotional partnership isn’t just a one-off event but a long-standing relationship that covers not only co-hosting events or working together on content marketing, but also referrals for your business. 

Sometimes people make it easy to tell whether or not they’ll be a good partner for you—whether it’s blowing off meetings or not putting in the effort to learn what your company does at the start.

Apparently you get this at any level. Do your homework, people.

Take the time to choose the right partners before committing to anything—which leads me to my next tip. 

  1. Make the expectations clear

When you’re talking about promotional partnership, you need to make the expectations for each party clear. 

Let’s say a business is going to send an exclusive offer from your agency to their customers. This is great, because the customers already trust the brand and you’ll benefit by building brand authority and generating revenue if any of the customers convert. 

Who is responsible for the email copy? When is the email going to send? When is your offer needed? How will you follow up after the send? Will you send an email to your database in return? 

This might seem like overkill, but recording specific actions and dates is the best way to avoid confusion—and tension. There’s nothing worse than a great phone call and potential partnership devolving terribly over a miscommunication. 

When we run co-marketed webinars at Unstack, for instance, we have a kick-off meeting where we run through all the action items, including content planning, webinar marketing, and follow-up . Then, we usually follow up with a Google doc for assignments, dates, and working notes. That way everyone is on the same page, and we can make the best content possible.

Our co-marketed webinar on building a referral program.

Bottom line: Overcommunite, agree on everything, and make sure to send recaps of any phone calls in email so you all have the details written down for reference.

  1. Take advantage of low-lift opportunities

Not all promotional partnerships are going to require lots of expectations—and that’s a good thing. Whenever low-lift opportunities for co-marketing or co-branding come up, consider them. These are great ways to grow your digital marketing agency without investing tons of resources.

Here are some great examples of promotional partnership opportunities that are relatively low lift:

  • Co-branded content downloads
  • Webinars
  • Guest posts
  • Social sharing 

Check out this example from HubSpot and Google.

The two companies paired up to create and promote a content download—and, if you read the fine print, share any contact information from conversions on this landing page. A project like this would take slightly longer than the content you’re creating anyway and offer so much more potential for your agency to grow.

  1. Offer an exclusive discount

Everyone likes a good deal. That’s why TJMaxx and Marshalls are so popular. That’s why the dollar section at Target is always packed. And that’s why you should offer an exclusive discount through your promotional partnership to grow your agency.

We mentioned earlier that one of the benefits of partnering with another business is not only building brand awareness but brand authority with their audience. If their customers trust them, their customers are more likely to trust you when you’re paired up—even though they might just be hearing of you.  

If you’re offering a discount to another business’s audience through partnership, make the most of the opportunity by offering an exclusive discount. And frame it as such. 

According to HubSpot, exclusive discounts work in promotional partnerships—they use a similar appeal as scarcity marketing by making it clear that the offer isn’t widely available.

One note: If you’re setting up an exclusive discount for partnership opportunity, make sure it’s not the same go-to discount you use. You don’t want to lose business or a partner over anyone seeing through a deal.

  1. Check in with your promotional partners

Sometimes, you’ll co-market a webinar or swap email marketing promotions and call it a day. But like I said, the best promotional partnerships are the ones that last—over multiple co-marketing efforts and with genuine connections.

That’s why it’s so important to follow-up after your promotions end and keep the conversations going.

You can build great relationships with your partners the same way you build relationships with your clients: getting to know them personally, and checking in with them.

Leverage promotional partnerships to grow your audience—and your agency 

Promotional partnerships can help you grow your digital marketing agency as long as you’re following these tips. Don’t waste your time on partners that don’t offer an opportunity for your business. Spend time creating lasting relationships by communicating expectations for projects and getting to know the people you’re working with personally. And then take advantage of getting in front of their audience with awesome content and appealing offers. You’ll be growing your audience and converting those leads in no time.

About The Author

Zach Rego is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Unstack, the no-code marketing platform, and the host of the Zero to a Million podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @ZachRego.