They say two is better than one, and when it comes to marketing, that may be even truer. If you want to grow your client base but lack the time or resources to do so, a co-marketing campaign can be a great way to expand your reach without exhausting your time or budget.
What Is Co-Marketing?
Co-marketing is when two companies promote one another through a joint marketing strategy and share in the benefits of those efforts. A co-marketing arrangement allows both parties to leverage each other's resources and reputations to generate more leads and grow their businesses.
When the subject of co-marketing comes up, you may also hear the term co-branding used synonymously, but it's actually slightly different. Co-branding occurs when two companies work together to create a single, integrated product. Think Cinnabon® Bakery Inspired Cinnamon Rolls by Pillsbury® or Taco Bell® Doritos® Locos Tacos. While co-marketing is often used to promote co-branded products, it's not solely limited to that.
Different Ways to Co-Market
There are numerous ways you can implement your co-marketing strategy, including:
Print or Web Advertisements
Team up to create a co-branded print ad for your local newspaper or trade publication, or create a co-branded banner ad for the web. If you're in real estate, you can also drive traffic by co-marketing through Zillow, which features your agent details, along with your preferred lender, on your listings.
Email Content Marketing
Hopefully you've already got a content marketing plan in place, so why not co-brand it? Doing so helps you increase visibility by leveraging the other party's market base. If you want to take it up a notch, co-author an article together to boost your credibility.
Don't forget, it's not all just about digital. Whether you're promoting just sold or just listed properties, inviting your clients to a co-hosted seminar, or offering a complimentary account or portfolio review, a co-marketed direct mail campaign can help you stand out from the crowd. The best part? You get to share the cost, so it's not such a hit on your budget.
Focus on Adding Value
Whatever type of co-marketing strategy you develop, remember to keep the focus on adding value to the consumer. In a co-marketing arrangement, the other party should enhance your service in some way, and vice versa, which in turn enhances the customer experience. For instance, as a Mortgage Loan Originator, I want my clients to work with a real estate agent who's an expert in the market and can help them find the home they want as quickly as possible. Conversely, agents want to work with a lender who is reliable and closes on time. A co-marketing campaign between both parties can ensure our mutual clients are referred to someone that will work in their best interests, which increases our chances of closing more deals.
Co-Marketing and RESPA
A common concern in the mortgage and housing industry is the strict regulations placed on co-marketing arrangements.
Section 8(a) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) prohibits the giving and accepting of "any fee, kickback or thing of value pursuant to any agreement or understanding, oral or otherwise, that business incident to or a part of a real estate settlement service involving a federally related mortgage loan shall be referred to any person."
Put simply, you can't attach anything of value in exchange for a referral. Both parties must contribute the fair market value for the share of services they actually receive, and neither party can receive or pay kickbacks or referral fees in exchange for steering business to the other party.
As long as you stay within these guidelines, it is possible to reap the benefits of co-marketing while staying compliant.