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Why 2021 Will Be the Year of Co-Marketing

2020 threw us all for a loop. Whether you are a small business or an international giant, we all had to throw our planned marketing strategy out the window and pivot. Most of our new content was stuffed with phrases like “unprecedented situation” and “the new normal” until we got on the correct footing to move forward with a strong and purposeful message.  

In that initial phase, most companies made a collective pivot by taking on an empathetic and community-oriented message that said “we’re here for you”, which was the right move. But the more our audience hears that same message, the less it resonates.   

Now, we are all scrambling to differentiate ourselves with fresh, attention-grabbing content. But thanks to the 2020 economic downturn, many of us have less money and manpower to do so.   

So how do we create something new and exciting while still working in our “new normal”?   


Doritos and Taco Bell banded together to create Doritos Locos Tacos – a classic co-marketing success story.

What is co-marketing?  

Co-marketing is a marketing strategy where brands or organizations partner together to expand their reach. Typically, the companies working with each other have some similarities, such as being in the same industry or having similar audiences.   

Download our checklist of 30+ ways to promote content here.

The goal is to offer a cohesive marketing experience that leverages the reach and popularity of both brands to reach a larger group of people and grow new supporters, clients, and customers through the partner company.  

Co-marketing can look like a joint-written e-book, a new product based on both brands, a digital or an in-person event, among many other things. Something as small as a guest blog post can be co-marketing content if there is a joint promotion strategy. It can also be as big as the long-term crown favorite, Doritos Locos Tacos from Doritos and Taco Bell. This co-marketing strategy includes a new product, commercials, landing pages, and more.  

Co-marketing can be more in-depth than many forms of company partnerships. Strategies like affiliate marketing are more recommendation-specific and don’t involve a blending of brands when promotion. Co-marketing requires much more of a connection between companies when it comes to values, product or service quality, and messaging.   

Co-marketing acts as a ‘stamp of approval’ – when a company agrees to work with another, it communicates that they see each other as reputable, quality companies.  

It can be a big decision to decide to align your brand with a company you have no control over – but risks come with rewards.   

Google and HubSpot created a co-marketing plan to promot this joint program. 

Why is co-marketing popular now?  

A crisis bands people (and therefore businesses) together  

2020 has been the year of feeling alone. Alone because we’re working from home, we can’t easily see our friends and family, and all our favorite in-person events are canceled indefinitely. That kind of mindset would react positively to seeing great companies work together to offer an even better product.  

Feel-good partnerships resonate well with individuals looking for good news. Camaraderie and partnerships always exude confidence, teamwork, and a “two heads work better than one” message.  

Digital reach is more important than ever  

In the wake of the pandemic, most companies have and will have infinitely fewer moments to connect with their customers in person. That means that your digital reach and presence is crucial to spreading your message.    

Co-marketing is a great way to increase the reach of your content. Because all information is shared to twice the number of social platforms, is available on multiple websites, and is being circulated in double the email contact lists, your brand is sure to get a boost in awareness.  

If another company is doing it right, you can piggy-back on to that success  

This is helpful if you’re trying to emphasize, update, or establish your brand reputation. Partnering with a company that has your goal reputation type can help your viewers create or grow the right idea about your company.   

Double the resources, double the fun  

Two budgets, two creative teams, two pools of resources, two different lists of helpful connections… the list goes on.   

Feel like your resources aren’t stretching far enough to make an impact? Partnering with another company instantly expands your resources for visual assets, idea creation, copywriting, influencers, or whatever else your campaign needs to engage your audience.   

Bumble and HBO created a comarketing strategy blending their two products for a reoccurring in-person event

Co-marketing considerations  

It can be a reputation risk  

Be careful where you hitch your wagon. If you work with a company that doesn’t match your values, you can rub some of your customers the wrong way. If your partner gets caught up in a scandal or bad publicity, you are now associated with that companies’ actions. Ouch.  

Less control over the management  

Co-marketing may be a bit painful for those who enjoy total control. Introducing another company means needing to compromise on design, strategy, and implementation techniques. If you decide to jump into a co-marketing joint venture, be ready to share responsibilities, decision making, credit for successes, and blame for failures.   

Less control over timelines  

You may have a good handle on your team when it comes to hitting deadlines, but there may be less control over how the other team handles theirs. In most cases, teams understand the importance of a due date, but some teams just operate differently. The more teams that get involved, the more chances the marketing process will be slower.   

Teamwork makes the dream work. Co-marketing may be just what your 2021 strategy needs to breathe some fresh air and new interest in your marketing strategy. If you’re interested in exploring opportunities for your campaign and promotion strategy, reach out to our team! 

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