Digital innovation has put big partnerships in the hands of small businesses

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Sam Crocker, Business Development Manager at Impact, explores the role that partnerships can play in helping smaller businesses compete with their larger countperparts. 

Advertising has always favoured the big boys. 30 second spot in the X Factor final? Done. Iconic creative launched in the Superbowl? Easy. Wrap around digital OOH at the IMAX in Waterloo? Say the word.

But things are changing. It’s no longer about how big your budget is, but how inventive your strategy. These iconic spots work, of course, but they are not the only route to effective, impactful advertising.

On a macro level, the internet has blown advertising opportunities wide open, but it’s only in recent years that technology specialists have started offering a refined, focused offering for brands. Partnerships are a prime example of how advertisers can tap into the connections of people who are passionate about their businesses and spread positive messages organically. Indeed, the WTO estimated that 75 per cent of the world’s commerce is now driven through partnerships.

Don’t over-complicate things
Impact has recently joined the Shopify Plus Certified App program to offer our best-in-class technology to merchants and help drive that meaningful growth. Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants can now take advantage of Impact’s Partnership Cloud through Shopify’s App Store. Through our influencer and affiliate programme technology, merchants can discover and recruit new partners, develop performance-driven relationships and settle payments in dozens of currencies, as well as track partners to attribute performance across devices, measure performance, and communicate the latest brand messaging and updates to partners.

One of the main advantages of this arrangement is that it takes away barriers for entry for small brands, while overcoming any challenges presented by a lack of understanding or technical know-how. Those who do not have access to developers can tap into our resources and liaise directly with Impact’s integration team to get set up in a way that is entirely frictionless and far faster than many other methods.

This approach is perfect for SMEs who are looking to grow their customer base, but with a close eye on their marketing budget. So what are the key advantages of partnerships for start-ups and small businesses, and how can they go about using partnerships effectively and in a way that delivers maximum ROI?

Keep it real
The key benefit of partnerships is authenticity. By working with people who already have a significant online following, brands can access an existing audience that is emotionally invested in their space.

Whether that is through affiliates, who run successful businesses based on their digital presence, often built up through years of hard work, or influencers, who have had a similar journey while presenting a genuine, likeable side of themselves, partnerships offer brands a fast track to their ideal audience of new and existing customers.

Showcase your professional personality
Another significant consideration is the opportunity for innovation. Marketing needs to speak to your audience in a way that tells them exactly what you’re about as a business: as well as your tone of voice, messaging and visuals it’s just as important to ensure the platforms you adopt are chosen for their ability to reach your desired audience.

Innovation within partnerships will present you as a modern, forward-thinking company that is embracing new opportunities, setting you apart from the competition. Creating a buzz around your partnerships programme with engaging brand assets and compelling promotional opportunities will set you apart from the rest.

Quality partnerships at scale
While every business naturally favours quality over quantity when it comes to lead generation, with partner marketing it is often as important to be concerned with maximising reach.

We are proud of our work in helping brands scale their partnership programmes rapidly and effectively, without adding to their existing workload. Our technology automates much of the time consuming processes involved in recruiting and onboarding influencers, including sending automated emails and follow ups according to their previous responses.

When a business has limited manpower, scaling with the help of automated efficiency is a considerable advantage to this partnership work.

Innovation and creativity unconstrained by budget
Finally, and arguably most importantly, is budget. The infamous magic money tree has yet to materialise, so until it does, every business is restricted by its marketing budget, particularly SMEs. It is therefore crucial that every pound spent works hard for the brand, and this is where some less traditional advertising routes come into play.

Partnership marketing can be turned up or dialled down accordingly, it can be always on or work just for a period in time or a particular promotion, and caps can be set so budgets aren’t exceeded unexpectedly.

It’s important that brands of all sizes leverage a variety of channels, so affiliate and influencer partnerships should form part of that mix in moving the customer along the funnel. Big partnerships are not an unrealistic ambition for small and medium sized businesses; they simply need to know the right approach and ensure they are working with a network that makes the journey as streamlined and cost effective as possible.