How to get into the brand collab game? Start here.

The number one question we get asked by brands who are new to collabs is how to get in the game. Read on to get under the hood of what collabs are and how to make them work for you.

How to plan your first collab

The first question we ask is also an obvious one but is often overlooked. Many brands start with 'who?' and forget to ask 'why?', 'what?' and 'how?'.

Who to partner with is the last question to ask. Understanding the goal and the approach dramatically increases the likelihood of finding a great partner to work with

What is the goal or outcome you seek from creating a collab? 

A collab can achieve a wide variety of outcomes for an overall marketing plan, but determining a concentrated, direct “job” for a collaboration to do will improve the search for partners, make measurement more accurate make campaign success more likely. 

When we work with clients we start with these core questions;

Who should the collab reach? 

  • Expanded brand awareness within the existing base 
  • Or new audience acquisition 

How will they be reached? 

  • Digital marketing activation
  • New product creation

When is the best time to release this collab?

  • Alignment with a specific season 
  • Event on the marketing calendar

A “job” is shorthand for what a brand really seeks to accomplish in a given circumstance. Jobs are complex and multifaceted; consider the experience a brand is trying to create. 

When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” it to help us do a job and collaborations can be the product a brand “hires” to achieve a desired outcome. 

Collabs can replace or enhance current marketing calendar objectives, work in tandem with planned campaigns, or reach a differentiated audience through adjacent segment capture.

The "Jobs To Be Done" framework originated at Harvard University and was made famous by Clay Christiansen. You can read more about it here.

Once we have established the goal, or job to be done, we can begin to look at the various types of collab that can be executed. Collabs come in many forms but for ease of discussion, we break them down into two categories; Macro and Micro Collabs.

Macro Collabs are Long-term partnerships. Examples;

Joint Events - diverse events with varying crowds that increase brand exposure

  • Hosted at brand HQs, restaurants, farmers markets, festivals, entertainment venues

Affiliate Program - payment based on attributed member signups

  • Influencer (or brand) shares affiliate link to audience and would receive x% of first month’s membership fee for attributed signups  

Trade Advertising - in app ad for brand created & posted social content 

  • Partner brand crafts co-branded promotional social media content in exchange for limited-time ad space in partner brand app, in-store location, or website

Coupon to Revenue Share - percentage of sale from coupon/gift card directed to partner

  • Brand provides $10 gift card resulting in $100 purchase, partner brand gets 5% of incremental revenue equaling $4.5

App Integrations - Brands receive ad space or creative content endorsement through respective brand apps

  • Each brand creates content or advertisement that the other will integrate into their branded app – app user number is relevant asset for this activation

Product Collab - Brands work together to create a new product/line 

  • Brands co-create an alternative version of an existing product or redesigning and creating a new line or product that combines influence and creative from both partners

Micro Collabs are Short-term partnerships. Examples;

Mutual Endorsement - brands talk about their partner brand on live streams, interviews or other determined promotion space

  • Partner brand publicly endorses the other brands products/brand and vice versa (no creative involved)

Social Media Cross Promotion - mutually created social content posted to each brand’s channels (share assets)

  • Co-branded promotional social media content with specific CTAs shared to each brand’s social audiences across platforms 

Giveaways/Bundles - sign up for a giveaway/bundle with another brand 

  • Co-sell bundled products on each brand’s sites or market a giveaway bundle through social media to cross promote

Email Campaigns - co-branded emails linking to shop (share assets)

  • Sent to each brand’s distribution lists (don’t need to share emails); can include discount codes, coupons, endorsements, etc. 

Calendar-related Cross Promotion - Brands promote each other around a certain calendar event or holiday

  • Brands work around a holiday or calendar date to promote each other – especially powerful if linked to a values-based strategy (e.g., two women-owned brands work together for International Women’s Day)

So now you know how to think about collabs and the different types of collab you can execute, let's get started on creating your collab plan.