food for thought

First steps for partnerships that work

These days, marketing often means spending hours in front of the computer creating social media campaigns and Google Ads, and your only contact is with your cat and AI bots.

While these are stellar marketing strategies, we urge you to consider good old-fashioned partnership marketing – i.e. when you collaborate with another business, organization, or person because they have a relationship with your target audience (not to mention you love them and want to support them). By partnering with someone else, you’re able to introduce your company to a whole new audience, and learn new ways of engaging with customers.

Get clear

You’re ready to incorporate partnership marketing into your overarching strategy, but you aren’t sure how to get started, and how to decide who you should approach about a partnership.

We feel you. The smorgasbord of partnership opportunities—nonprofit partnerships, B2B partnerships, product partnerships, government alliances (and more)—can be overwhelming. The most important thing to consider is that your partnerships complement your company’s mission and promise.

Start off by thinking through your goals for your partnerships. Great prompts include asking yourself: Why do you want to elevate your company’s impact work? Why do you want to engage new audiences? Why do you want to reignite your returning audience’s excitement for your work? The why’s you identify from these questions will provide you with your goals. Then, make the goals SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based—and you are clear on your objectives for your partnerships. 

Smart Questions Lead to Smart Answers

Once you understand your objectives for your partnership marketing in 2020, you can decide which partners are best for you this year.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Will this partner connect me with my customers? Partnerships with an organization that serves your ideal customer are the only partnerships you should pursue. You wouldn’t spend money on a Facebook Ad targeting 65-year-old women when your ideal customer is a 22-year-old male. The same rule applies here. 
  • What unique approaches does this partner bring to my marketing? The saying “more heads are better than one” rings true for strong partnerships. With the right partner, you can leverage each other’s strengths to develop new types of content, unique media opportunities, and memorable experiences for your customers.
  • What value does my business bring to the partner? The partnership needs to benefit your partner in some way. While their value-add doesn’t have to be the same benefit you are seeking, the most enduring and effective partnerships are ones where each partner fills gaps in the other’s work.
  • How has this partner executed previous partnerships with other businesses? Whether your partner is a nonprofit or a complementary business, ask them what partnerships they’ve pursued in the past, and what were the outcomes. Their response will give you insight into how they value their partners. The more ideas rooted in data in their response, the better.


When you join forces with an organization you admire and that aligns with your mission, your customers take notice. Partnership marketing is all about living your brand’s promise and seeking new ways to show it to your customers. Remember to be selective with who you approach and who you partner with. To quote Eminem, you only have one shot with potential customers. Make sure not to blow it by tarnishing your reputation with a misaligned partner.

If you still have lingering questions about bringing to life your partnership strategy, let’s connect! We love helping restaurants, lifestyle, and food brands collaborate with like-minded organizations to grow their reach. 


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