Types of Marketing Partnerships: The Complete Guide

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Comprehensive Guide to Various Types of Marketing Partnerships

You know the old saying, “Never go alone?” It’s never been more true when it comes to marketing your business. Marketing partnerships are a great way to reach a new audience, spark word-of-mouth advertising, and generate leads in a cost-effective way.

What exactly are marketing partnerships? 

Marketing partnerships are a type of strategic alliance that businesses can use to expand their reach, promote their brand, and drive revenue. In marketing partnership arrangements, two companies — typically a vendor or supplier on one side and either an individual or company on the other side — work together towards a common goal. Each partner provides something of value in exchange for access to the partner’s resources and audience. These types of partnerships can take many forms, but they all involve the exchange of services or goods between the parties involved.

A strategic partnership between brands can be a great way to get your company’s name out there and drive sales. But with so many different types of partnerships available,  understanding which one is right for you and your business might be confusing.

Whether you’re planning on partnering with another brand to create something new, or just need help getting the word out about your product, there are several marketing partnerships to choose from. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the most common types of marketing partnerships you could consider as an entrepreneur or marketer.

Top Types of Marketing Partnerships

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Referral marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Loyalty
  • Content marketing
  • Joint product development
  • Product placement
  • Sponsorship
  • Licensing
  • Channel partnerships

Let’s look at each in more detail.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards affiliates (publishers) for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate marketing efforts. Affiliate marketers usually select specific products to promote and receive guidelines and audiences to target. Affiliate marketing is commonly used in the context of the Internet and digital marketing, where affiliates earn a commission by marketing a company’s products for a commission.

When companies choose to add affiliate marketing in their promotio strategy, they usually have three options on how to go around it.

-In-house partner program (affiliate program). Merchants can launch their own program where they would communicate with affiliates, manage ad campaigns and analyze performance. Here you can learn more about how to start a partner program.

-Affiliate network. As an alternative, businesses can work with an affiliate network that would be promoting your program and inviting affiliates to join it.

-Agency. This option is rather similar to working with an affiliate network. In the same way, you outsource all work to a third party. Agencies could have their in-house solution, cooperate with networks or sometimes even be a network.

Referral marketing

As with affiliate marketing, referral marketing is a strategy that rewards existing customers for bringing new customers to your business. It’s one of the best ways to grow your business organically, and it can also help you stand out from the competition by building relationships with your customers and giving them a reason to come back. 

The main difference from affiliate marketing is that referral partners always have hands-on experience with your product: they tried it and liked it. In comparison to affiliates, referrals may not be the same active in the promotion of a product on many platforms to anyone who may see their posts. Instead, they recommend a product purposefully to those who are looking for a similar solution. Thus, clients from referral partnerships tend to have a longer LTV.

One of the best ways to implement a referral program is with dedicated referral marketing software. You can also set up a reward program that allows your customers to earn a percentage of the value of their purchases as credits that go towards future purchases.

Influencer marketing

In influencer marketing, brands partner with social media “influencers,” or people with a large number of followers, to promote products or services. Influencer marketing is usually done in exchange for payment or the promise of payment, but can also be done through a bartering system.  Influencer marketing is one of the most trendy and well-known promotions on social media. 

There are two types of partnership with influencers: 

  • A short-time promotion where influencers were often paid either per post or performance. Thanks to new Instagram features now influencers could be easily paid per performance;
  • A long-term strategy where an influencer turns into a brand ambassador.

Previously, there was a challenge with rewards based on performance as 3-4 years ago Instagram couldn’t properly track the results. It used to be a stumbling block before, as not many brands wanted to pay a set remuneration upfront. 

Today almost everyone can leave links directly in Instagram stories. And recently Instagram has also announced a new feature that makes tagging products accessible for everyone. 

Earlier it was only approved for creators, but after the feature roll-out, all users will be able to tag business products for Instagram Shopping. That’s great news for smaller affiliates and new companies who want to expand their reach and boost product promotion. And for merchants, it means a bigger choice of influencers to work with.


Loyalty marketing is a type of word-of-mouth strategy designed to make customers feel appreciated, which results in higher customer retention rates. Loyalty marketing often takes the form of a rewards program. Customers earn points from their purchases, which can be redeemed for discounts, gift cards, or other items.

Loyalty partnerships come in three forms: frequency, volume, and advocate. 

Frequency. Customers earn rewards based on the frequency of purchases. The more a product is bought or service used the more rewards go to a consumer loyalty card.  As a reward customers often receive partner brand discounts. 

Volume. In comparison to Frequency loyalty, Volume loyalty depends on and is calculated based on the size of the check. The higher the check, the bigger the reward.

Advocate. A different type of loyalty partnership that resembles a bit the concept of brand ambassadors. Advocate loyalty program engages those customers who are real fans of a brand and are happy to spread the word about it.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a form of marketing that revolves around creating content that educates and informs your customers. The goal is to attract new customers and keep your existing customers coming back for more. Research shows that businesses that publish regularly see a 35% increase in leads compared to businesses that don’t publish any content. The most popular type of content are articles, interviews, case studies, white papers, videos, etc.

The content creation can be handled in two ways:

Co-creation – content creation strategy that involves both parties and requires active participation and expertise sharing. Companies could both cooperate on log articles and interviews, but often it is a longer piece of content with deeper research, like white papers, industry research, leadership content, etc. It could also be video content that requires the participation of several people and the usage of professional equipment to get quality video content.

Link-sharing – is a content and SEO strategy aimed to increase brand exposure and improve the page rate in search engines. Link-sharing is an easier strategy, where a brand is featured in new content pieces without working on the content directly. However, it could take some time to find trustworthy partners with both strong domains and industry expertise in their blogs. You better partner with several companies, so you do not exchange links directly but rotate links within several web pages and blogs. Otherwise, you risk receiving a red flag from Google.

Joint product development

Joint product development is a closer partnership between two (or more) companies the final goal of which is to create a new product. With the help of a manufacturer or a service provider, they aim to create a product that would complement their offerings and would be in line with their brand. Joint product development is a great way to bypass the R&D process and get a new product to market faster. Businesses can also partner with companies who has the expertise and resources to do things faster and/or at a lower cost than they would be able to do on their own.

Product placement

Product placement is a strategy of brand integration into the content of a TV show, movie, or other bits of media. Unlike typical advertising, product placement is subtle, the brand name is mentioned, but not explicitly advertised. Product placement is less likely to have an immediate impact on sales, but it can have a lasting impact on your brand recognition, which can help generate leads over time. However, due to being mainly a TV advertisement, it is very hard to evaluate product placement results. 


Sponshorship, or brand sponsorship, is a hybrid between advertising and product placement. The goal of a sponshorship is to create a long-term partnership between your brand and another business. Sponsorship is usually done between two businesses with a strong connection. The goal is to promote the partnership, as well as the products and services of all parties involved. Sponsorship is less about making cash upfront and more about building long-term relationships with other businesses. It can be an expensive strategy, but it can also be very impactful if done correctly.


In the case of licensing, instead of selling your product or service outright, you partner with another business to license your product. They will produce and sell the product under their name while giving you a percentage of the sales. Many companies choose to license their products instead of selling to an outside brand because it allows them to retain a degree of control over their products while still bringing in additional revenue.

Channel partnerships

Channel partners are third-party businesses or individuals who market and sell your products to wider audiences and new geographic areas. They include distributors, retailers, resellers, and wholesalers who purchase large quantities of our products to sell them in their markets. Channel partnerships are a great way to plug into the power of your partners’ existing customers and build relationships with people in your industry. 

Before You Get Started

Marketing partnerships come in all shapes and forms and companies manage to successfully combine both online and offline partnerships. With the need to measure everything, offline partnerships occur less and less often. Especially, with today’s marketing technologies companies move to fully digital strategies where they can capture and nurture leads, and importantly, measure the results of their efforts. 

Many benefits and opportunities can come from partnering with other businesses. However, you need to be sure that any partnership is worth the effort. Before you get started with any partnerships, make sure that you evaluate each opportunity and consider the following factors.

Things to consider while choosing partnership types


The first step is to consider the identity of your brand. What is your brand’s identity? What do your customers associate with your brand? What do you want your brand to be known for? You want to partner with people and businesses that will help you achieve your business goals while helping them achieve theirs. This is best done by partnering with those who are like-minded.


After you’ve considered your identity, the next step is to evaluate the goals of the partnership. What are you hoping to accomplish? What goals do you think your business partner aims to achieve? Is there any way that partnering could help both of you achieve your bigger business goals, such as a reduction in expenses or an increase in revenue?


It is not all rosy, partnering with others could also have a number of risks and drawbacks. Make sure you’re prepared for it before you sign on the dotted line. When partnering with another business, it’s possible that you may have to compromise your brand. You’ll want to make sure that the risks are outweighed by the potential benefits, or that a chosen partner presents no risk at all. 


Finally, you’ll want to consider the value of the partnership. What can you offer the other business? What do they bring to the table? If you can make it worth the other business’s while, they’ll be more likely to jump at the chance to partner with you. What are you bringing to the table? A successful marketing partnership can do magic for your brand. But before you start reaching out to potential partners, you need to make sure that you’re prepared for the process. This guide will walk you through the process of finding the right partners for your business and making sure that your partnership is beneficial for everyone involved!

To Conclude

We hope this guide was useful and you got a better understanding of the marketing partnerships. Whether you already have a vision of which types of marketing partnerships can work for you or you just exploring, you are very welcome to check our blog for more marketing partnership tips.

Who are we? IREV is a SaaS platform for those who want to start their partner program and manage campaigns & affiliates at ease. We automate the biggest part of the work for program owners allowing them to concentrate on business development. With IREV granular targeting, accurate tracking, deep analytics, and performance optimization features, businesses can successfully manage a partner program, automate daily operations, optimize ad campaigns and maximize the revenue. Learn more about IREV.

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