Partnership Marketing is when “brands collaborate together and work to leverage each others’ assets to do more with less and provide a greater return on their marketing programs.” (seachenginepeople)

The advent of social media advertising has forced marketing strategists to redefine tactics for marketing partnerships.

The Key Mediating Variable (KMV) model, which only had two key components in 1994, now has been expanded to five strategic measures to make a marketing partnership work in the eyes of the viewer as well as the partners.

For example partnering with the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing to set you apart as a luxury specialist, partnering with KW, Berkshire Hathaway, or Coldwell Banker to lend credibility to your real estate business, or partnering with Trulia or Zillow to increase your marketing power.

1.  Trust

If the partners cannot trust each other, then there will be no hope of projecting trust to the target audience.

One of the original components of KMV, trust is also the hardest to define, having no uniform agreed upon definition.

Instead, trust is broken down to many domains, including:

  • competence
  • reliability
  • goodwill

Coca Cola is committed to this trust-partnership model as evidenced by its work with software developer SAP. The beverage giant used a minimum requirement and its trust in the partnership to choose and continue its relations with SAP.

The first most important lesson here is that portraying trust, however that may look for you, is the most valuable of the strategies.

2.  Commitment

Second of the original KMV model is commitment, which is something that the National Realtors Association relies on strongly in its marketing partnerships.

NAR has multiple business and marketing partners, all with the central theme of making the environment more successful for real estate agents. At its most basic, NAR is a membership association, so commitment to members and partners is at its foundation.

Here commitment looks a lot like mutual endorsement. To make it to the partners list is a tacit testimonial for and from NAR.

Use your commitment as a way of publicly endorsing your marketing partners.

3.  Shared Values

The new generation of digital communication has made it so that users can verify the values of two partnered companies.

This means that companies can no longer partner simply for promotional reasons. They must have shared values then partner to synergize the partnership into something greater.

That is what cyber-security company LifeLock did with its marketing partnership with the National PTA. Both organizations have a stake in family safety so it was a logical pairing. The team took their shared values to the Internet, placing it on Twitter, Facebook, and their company websites.

This gave them greater market penetration than they would have gotten on their own.

4.  Communication Of Expectations

To truly be effective, the partners must communicate all expectations at multiple levels in an organization. The communication between operation staff may be different than between chief executives but both are important.

In a paper using Halcyon Financial Technology as the case study, the ability to communicate meaning as well as manage one’s self in the message was identified as one of Halcyon’s great strengths.

Like any relationship, this marketing relationship needs clear channels of communication and feedback.

5.  Cooperation

It may seem obvious but cooperation is not always evident to the target audience. That is why a good marketing partnership places the cooperative component of the campaign at its center.

Take the Slice of Hope campaign, benefiting the World Food Programme, as an example. The partnership between the hunger organization and Pizza Hut demonstrates a commitment but add to that the collaboration with game company Zynga and now you have cooperation.

Each of these companies has a huge amount of transactions annually. Bringing the three together appears to the audience as a colossal undertaking requiring everyone’s attention. This makes it a cornerstone of the KMV model.