Now more than ever, demand for partnership marketing is at an all-time high. As markets continue to saturate and the creator economy grows more robust, brand partnerships are a mounting sect of marketing that offers incredible opportunity and exciting growth. If you’re considering a career in brand partnerships, there has never been a better time.
In this guide, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of partner marketing, potential career paths, day-to-day responsibilities, and skills that will boost your chances for success in this field. Let’s get started!
What is partnership marketing?
Partnership marketing is an umbrella term for collaborative, mutually beneficial partnerships between entities. These strategic partnerships can be made between large corporations, small businesses, and individuals alike. Partnership marketing is inclusive of joint venture relationships, affiliates, influencers, advertising publishers, and co-branding.
Partnership marketing typically supports both parties’ objectives. Whether you’re looking to branch into new markets, boost revenue, generate leads, or build brand awareness, securing brand partnerships can be an effective means of taking your marketing efforts and company to the next level.
Careers in brand partnerships
As the name suggests, a brand partnerships marketer is responsible for creating and executing partnerships. Many professionals that enter the partner marketing industry have a background in marketing, sales, or account management.
During your career in partnership marketing, you will be responsible for performing a variety of tasks. Let’s take a look into potential career opportunities related to partner marketing!
Junior Account Manager
Junior account managers are common transitional roles for breaking into partnership marketing. Experience in account management typically lends itself well to brand partnership roles, as both fields emphasize collaborative relationships, strategic thinking, client/partner relations, and first-hand experience with campaigns.
Although account management professionals at this level are typically entry level, these roles are valuable in building a strong foundation in partner marketing.
Affiliate Marketing Specialist
Affiliate marketers offer a wealth of hands-on experience directly relating to brand partnerships, as affiliates are one component of partner marketing. People in this role are often responsible for developing and managing relationships with affiliates, starting from initial discovery to distributing commissions on revenue they’ve generated for your company. It’s also common for affiliate marketers to be experienced in lead generation and client and talent management.
Generally, affiliate marketing specialists have 2-4 years experience in sales, marketing, or advertising industries.
Partner Marketing Associate
Partner marketing associates are considered junior roles in brand partnership teams. They are typically tasked with managing the day-to-day communications between partners, assisting the implementation of marketing strategies, and supporting partner marketing leads in a variety of areas such as tracking data and reporting progress.
On average, the majority of professionals in this role possess 2-4 years of industry experience.
Partner Marketing Manager
Partner marketing managers are responsible for owning the brand’s partnership marketing processes from start to finish. In comparison to their associate counterparts, managers in this field may oversee a team of junior professionals, in addition to developing strategies, executing strategies at a high-level, managing relationships with key partners, and collaborating with internal and external cross-functional departments.
People in this role are predictably well-versed in the in’s-and-out’s of brand partnerships, as well as a variety of marketing disciplines. Many partner marketing managers have 5+ years of relevant industry experience in marketing, sales, and account management.
Director of Brand Partnerships
As a director of brand partnerships, you will oversee the entirety of a company’s partner marketing operations and department. The most prominent duties attributed to this role are centered in developing a comprehensive brand partnership strategy, collaborating with internal and external teams to ensure partner success, and facilitating presentations with relevant stakeholders.
Although directors of brand partnerships may not be directly involved with the day-to-day operations between all partners, they are responsible for the overall performance and delivering a worthwhile return of investment from brand partners.
Directors of brand partnerships generally have 8-10+ years of experience in the marketing or business fields. At this level, a proven ability to think strategically, refined communication skills, and strong leadership competencies are imperative to individual and departmental success.
As a marketer specializing in brand partnerships, your days will likely have some degree of spontaneity – particularly when you’re navigating broad partnerships. Depending on the size of your company and team, you will likely wear many hats to juggle the full lifecycle of partnership marketing. Everything from conducting outreach to secure partnerships to overseeing campaigns is within your domain.
Among the most prevalent responsibilities of a partnership marketer include market research, identifying potential leads, developing strategy, managing campaigns, data analysis, and partner relations, to name a few.
Before you can jump into implementing partnered campaigns, however, it’s important to build and maintain relationships with external parties. This means identifying new partnership opportunities, connecting with prospects, followed by negotiations and closing these strategic deals.
Once you’ve succeeded in acquiring these partners, your focus will shift to developing and managing partnership marketing efforts. Not only will you be involved in strategizing and executing these campaigns, but you will also collaborate extensively with multiple teams, take on project management duties, alongside tracking and analyzing data.
Overall, your day-to-day tasks are often closely linked to your progression through your partnership life cycle. For example, your day 1 duties may look significantly different than your day 65 outlook.
Skills and qualifications
To succeed in the world of brand partnerships and partner marketing, you will need:
Strategic thinking skills. Every marketer involved in partnerships must have the ability to think creatively and strategically. Strategy leverages analysis and creativity to produce innovative ideas that drive long-term impacts.
Identifying the most effective partnership opportunities requires forethought. What are the risks? Areas of opportunity? How might these partnerships impact the company’s primary goals? Forgoing strategic thinking and rushing into an ill-conceived plan is highly unlikely to produce meaningful outcomes.
Strong communication skills. Being able to articulate all facets of your brand’s strategic partnerships cannot be understated in the world of brand partnerships. Whether you’re negotiating a co-branded partnership or presenting progress reports to stakeholders, verbal and written communication is a core skill for any partner marketer. Failing to effectively communicate overarching goals and collaborate across diverse teams can dramatically impact your company’s partnerships.
Project management skills. Being able to organize and prioritize your work is essential to succeeding in partner marketing – particularly when your job calls for a high degree of collaboration. Brand partnerships involve many moving parts. Having a clearly defined roadmap from activation to launch is key to coordinating the efforts of internal and external marketing, product, and sales teams.
Marketing expertise. Having a thorough understanding of marketing and advertising principles allows you to optimize your partner marketing operations. Because partnership opportunities take many forms, prior experience with a variety of specialties will help you identify and develop strategic partnerships that best support the company’s business objectives.
Is a career in partnership marketing right for you?
Because partner marketing encompasses a diverse range of marketing specialties such as co-branding, licensing, and affiliate marketing, you may already have the relevant skills and experience needed to get your foot in the door. If you have a deep-rooted desire to forge collaborative relationships and utilize creative marketing strategies, brand partnerships offer abundant opportunities for pursuing your passions.