Lean on me: why partnerships will be essential in 2020

Adam Furness explores how marketers can lean on partnerships to make it through a challenging year.

At this stage in the game, you don’t need to be told that things are tough out there for media and marketing. Between furloughs, anxious employees, pay-cuts, budget-cutting and diminishing publishers, there is a lot to navigate.

All of which brings a tremendous amount of incremental pressure on marketers, who are being tasked with responding more quickly, more bravely and with more ingenuity than ever (and likely with less resources).

Clearly there are no silver bullets in this situation but there are some silver linings out there – one of which is partnerships.

While the proverb ‘a trouble shared is a trouble halved’ may not be empirically correct, there is a lot of value that can be created for brands via strategic and judicious partnerships to help navigate the new environment we find ourselves in.

Let’s look at how.

Leverage ‘community’ partnerships

Times of crisis can also bring out the best in people and businesses and the power of partnership and community is now more important than ever. Every company in adtech and martech now needs to focus on a continuation of service for advertisers and publishers – making sure they can still execute during this difficult time. Talk to your vendors and find out how their extended networks may also be able to help. For example, at Impact we’ve partnered with some fantastic independent speakers to launch a new series of ‘Create Impact’ webinars for our customers, partners and the wider industry all of which may help with up-skilling and boosting staff morale. We’ve also seen some great initiatives from brands and referring partners coming together to offer support to customers and the community. These include Network 10, MTV and Nickelodeon launching  their ‘Together’ campaigns to focus on sharing health, safety and well-being messages during COVID-19. Another example is Woolworths working with Qantas to hire some of the workers laid off as a result of the crisis.

Deepen agency partnerships

Now is the time to realign on shared agency goals and incentives and ensure that the right strategies are in place to reflect the changing times. We know from past financial crises that consumer’s desires, wants and needs alter significantly – for example, consumers typically demonstrate a desire to return to simpler, more home and family orientated times. It has never been more important to understand and address the shifting needs of consumers and agency partners which will be critical to help track changing behaviours, develop and share insights and then recalibrate campaigns accordingly.

Deepen partnership with sales

If you haven’t deeply aligned marketing with sales, now is the moment to do so as securing revenue becomes paramount. Look at your pipeline through a realistic lens and develop a battle plan accordingly. Marketers should be working in tandem with sales to figure out the renewed market opportunity, where the next consumer might be, where the white space might be and how marketing can support this.

Extend (and optimise) commercial partnership programs

With consumers expected to more carefully weigh up purchase decisions as discretionary spend reduces, the old adage of ‘people buy from people’ will be more important than ever. This means there is an opportunity for brands to tap into the need for social bonding, togetherness and reassurance as people, more than ever, will want to minimise risk.

A good way to create this kind of trust and reassurance is through partnering with third parties – for example, with other brands with shared values, social influencers, publishers and charities. By partnering with those who have a trusted relationship with a customer or audience, new consumers can be reached which will drive significant incremental revenue. In fact, research from Forrester Consulting recently found that companies with the most mature partnership programs are growing overall company revenue nearly two times as fast as companies with less mature programs. This type of performance play is also attractive as it has a clear and accountable return on investment (ROI) – brands only pay partners that deliver real business outcomes. It also aligns well with the type of agile principles (daily meetings, rapid pivots and so on) that will be important to adopt as the market and conditions rapidly evolve. For optimal ROI and agility, brands can deploy partnership automation software to ensure they can effectively optimise all stages of a partnership, from discovery and recruitment, through contracting, attributing credit and payment.

There is no getting away from the fact that 2020 is going to be a challenging year for marketers, but by looking to lean on partners from across the media and marketing ecosystem brands can better build the skills, resilience and growth opportunities that will be essential for long term success.

Adam Furness is the managing director of Impact.

Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash.