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I always say success is just one good partnership away.
The fact is, everyone could use a little help, so why not find ways that you can work together to achieve your goals?
Affinity marketing has been the backbone of so many successful businesses, including my own, for years, and I’m always floored when I find out most people have no idea what it is.
Well, look no further.
I’m passing along all the tips and tricks you need to use affinity marketing and start building brand loyalty, awareness, and of course, profit.
Let’s jump in!
What is Affinity Marketing?
The word affinity is a lot like kinship. It’s about attraction and likeness leading to a relationship.
In marketing, the word has similar connotations. It’s about a true partnership where both parties get what they want.
This can take many forms, but the most common one includes one company providing a service to the patrons of another.
For example, if a theater wants to cater to hard-of-hearing guests, it might partner with a company that makes assistive listening devices.
The company gets increased customers and brand awareness, while the theater brings in more people and builds a reputation as an accessible space.
At the end of the day, affinity marketing is all about finding win-win situations.
Affinity vs Affiliate marketing
Two things sounding the same doesn’t make them the same - obviously.
However, affinity and affiliate marketing still get mixed up more often than not.
Affiliate marketing is all about results. You sell another company’s product and they reward you.
There’s no real deep connection being formed between affiliates.
Affinity marketing on the other hand is all about the bonds that form.
When you make a commitment to another brand based on shared values, you’re going to stick with them through the good and the bad.
Benefits of Affinity Marketing
In a world where competition is usually the name of the game, two companies working together can be radical.
Not only will both companies benefit from the deal, but you’ll also build a reputation as a team with values beyond profit.
This will boost brand loyalty like CRAZY!
Studies show that people are four to six times more likely to stick with brands that share similar values to them. That’s a huge advantage.
You’ll also have access to a wider range of customers.
The business you partner with will have a base of existing patrons that you can tap into.
Or - even better - you might be able to attract new customers altogether.
Think of a streaming service partnering with a food delivery app.
Now, when a group of friends gets together to watch a movie, instead of going out, they might think of these two brands and plan an evening on the couch.
Because the entire event was marketed together, both companies got increased business.
Challenges of Affinity Marketing
Before you do anything in business, you should have a clear picture of what it entails.
Affinity marketing is, of course, no different.
One thing new marketers might be hesitant about is sharing their database with another company.
That’s understandable! You’ve put a lot of energy into building out your customer base and gaining their trust.
However, if you focus on choosing a partner whose values align with your own, you’ll have no trouble building a safe and beneficial plan.
This kind of work can also take quite a bit more time than other forms of marketing.
All relationships - especially strong ones - require time and effort.
A great way to combat this is to have a clear way to track where customers are coming from. This way you can identify any bottlenecks and make sure both parties are getting the most out of the partnership!
I recommend using a third-party software like ReferralHero to handle this tracking.
They’ll handle the nitty-gritty details so you can focus on building those key relationships.
How To Build Affinity Marketing
So how do you get started? Here’s a simple step-by-step process to get you on the right track!
Step One: Set Your Goals
To plan the best strategy, you need to know exactly what you hope to achieve.
Do you want to reach a ton of new customers?
Maybe you’re interested in curating your brand’s reputation or getting a certain type of engagement.
Whatever you want, this will help you get the next - and most crucial - step right.
Step Two: Pick The Perfect Partners
This can make or break your affinity marketing plan.
Find companies that share your same values, and who have something to gain from working with you.
Whose customers could benefit from your products and services?
What untapped markets would be more invested in your company if they saw you working together with a certain type of brand?
What values can you show by partnering with a specific charity or lifestyle brand?
Make sure you align with the team that you partner with, as you’ll be spending quite a bit of time together working on this joint venture.
Step Three: Cement Your Roles
Make sure you’re clear about who is doing what and what you hope to gain when negotiating with a partner.
You might need an entire team dedicated to figuring out how you’ll launch your partnership.
What marketing needs to get done? Is there an event that needs planning?
How will both of your customer service needs be affected?
Each company might be able to tackle one or more of these issues individually.
For example, a local brewery might plan an event while a hotel chain they partner with handles marketing for that event.
You might even make a brand-new product together!
Whatever you do, make sure you’re both clear about what’s happening.
This makes the process way smoother and more successful for you, your partner, and your customers.
Step Four: Keep Track Of Everything
Make sure you’re tracking your goals every step of the way.
For any new venture to work, you need to know what the pain points are and solve them.
This is even more vital when you’re working with another team.
They might not have told you all their weaknesses before you got started - understandable but still a pain.
This can also help you take note of what’s working.
If you get a huge surge of social media engagement, and your partner notices a more diverse user base, you’ll know to focus on those aspects.
Again, this is where a software like ReferralHero comes in for the win. You’ll know exactly where traffic is coming from and be able to bolster those efforts.
Showing what worked about your partnership is a great way to build tighter bonds - and pitch more lucrative partnerships in the future!
Strategies for Affinity Marketing Success
No one starts out as a pro. That’s why I’ve put together some tips to help you get your barrings with affinity marketing.
Tip One: Take Your Time
Because affinity marketing is all about building relationships and showing long-term values, it takes a lot of time.
Customers won’t instantly be loyal to your company because you work with their favorite coffee shop.
BUT, if you keep showing up, they’ll start to associate you with those values and become long-term users.
Besides, trust built over time is far more likely to last, leading to success far into the future.
Tip Two: Keep The Customer First
When things start working, take the time to engage with your customers and find out why.
They want to be a part of the process! Getting personal with your customers makes brand loyalty skyrocket.
This will also prevent you and your partner from putting a lot of effort into things that aren’t actually helping.
Tip Three: Relationship, Relationship, Relationship
You might have noticed that the actual partnership between you and the other brand is kind of important to this whole venture.
I can not stress this enough! Nurture this relationship like you do any other.
Hold regular meetings to share progress, insights, and information.
The longer this partnership lasts, the greater your returns will be.
Don’t sleep on the importance of truly engaging with and lifting up the other party.
Tip Four: Stay Flexible
It’s not easy bringing someone else into your process.
You and your partner have spent years figuring out your standard practices and strategies.
Be willing to shift and work along with them. If expectations aren’t being met, work together to find solutions.
Working together will ultimately lead to better gains all around.
The world is changing, and showing off your brand’s values is just as important as showing off results.
Affinity marketing can do both!
Taking the time to cultivate these lasting relationships can have a tremendous impact on your success.
When you find the right partner, and let tools like ReferralHero do the busy work, you can put that effort towards creating win-win situations for everyone.
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