Walk down any supermarket aisle. What do you see? Brands, brands, and more brands. And, individually, each has its own equity—along with consumer appeal, value, unique brand-defining characteristics, and a brand essence that evokes loyalty among target consumers.

The smart marketer uses strategically planned distribution to enhance brand equity. Although gaining new distribution with an alliance partner is less common, it can be extremely powerful. In fact, especially during challenging economic periods, the power of marketing partnerships brings expanded credibility and a cost-efficient means to gain distribution.

Many companies and managers today have mastered and are effectively using promotional programs, which can range from couponing to licensing and merchandising, among others.

However, such marketing tools are often used independently or in more of a silo approach. And it can take a long time to create these programs, especially if another partner brand is included or a promotional overlay is involved—such as an entertainment property: theatrical, DVD, or otherwise.

And today many companies and brands are engaging in "Partnership Marketing," "Marketing Alliances," "Strategic Partnerships," and even "Partnership Brand Marketing" programs. But often they boil down to just promotions, perhaps maybe even on a larger scale.

But the true success of partnership brand marketing lies in its power to open up new and alternative channels of distribution for both the companies and the brands involved.

Finding Customers Where You Aren't

The whole idea behind partnership brand marketing is to find customers where your company and brand do not compete: It not only provides your brand with additional credibility in aligning with another company but also opens up distribution channels, allows you to reach and market to customers that may not be aware or thinking of your brand, and—most important—it captures the attention of new potential buyers who may not have your brand top of mind.

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image of Gregory Pollack

Gregory J. Pollack is founder and president of PBM Marketing Solutions (www.pbmmarketing.com), a partnership brand marketing company. He can be reached via gpollack@pbmmarketing.com.