Six Strategies for Partnering with Big Brands (2023)

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Six Strategies for Partnering with Big Brands (1)

TerraCycle Founder Tom Szaky

Photo courtesy of Christopher Crane

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Tom Szaky didn't even try to get his product--a worm excrement fertilizer packed in a recycled bottle--into small retailers when he started TerraCycle six years ago. Instead, he reached as high as he could: Wal-Mart. "If I want to be big and do it quickly, the best way … is to work with the world's biggest companies," he says. "They can accelerate your cycle much more quickly than any other company can."

The Trenton, N.J.-based company's first big partnership with Wal-Mart in Canada was just the start of what has become a $14 million business. TerraCycle now gathers unrecyclable trash and converts it into products and packaging for such big brands as Kraft, Pepsi and Mars. Last year, corporate partners spent $45 million on TerraCycle-related marketing--far more than Szaky could have ever done alone.

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But breaking in with big companies is no easy feat. For Szaky, it took lots of research, persistence and trial and error. "The biggest mistake small companies make is they don't do enough homework," says Brant Slade, co-author of Think BIG!: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Partnering With Large Companies (Course Technology PTR, 2009). "They think … more from the small business point of view as opposed to thinking from the large business point of view."

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Here's a checklist to help your small business prepare to partner with big brands:

1. Be unique. Make sure your business pitch is carefully thought out and offers value to your potential partner. After Robin Thurston co-founded, an Austin, Texas-based fitness social network that offers online routes, training and group activities, he and his partner realized they had developed a geo-location technology that bigger companies wanting online fitness tools and access to a social network could use. With their first corporate partner, Cadbury's Accelorade sports drink, they collaborated on a web interface enabling users on their site to map and share workouts. "You have to have something that is clearly valuable to that big brand that they might not want to spend the time investing in or doing," Thurston says. Now, the company also builds web platforms and mobile phone apps for brands like NBC Sports, Humana and Skechers, whose customers can opt into the MapMyFITNESS social network.

2. Remain persistent. Although Szaky had the worm-excrement-in-a-recycled-bottle market cornered, getting that first deal with Wal-Mart in 2005 still required persistence. After scouring LinkedIn and alumni networks to find the right contact, Szaky called Wal-Mart 10 times a day, every day for three weeks until he finally got through and set up a meeting. Big companies field lots of requests, so persistence is a must. "There are some brands we are working with today that literally were five-year conversations," Thurston says.

Six Strategies for Partnering with Big Brands (2)

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MapMyFITNESS co-founders Robin Thurston and Kevin Callahan, Photo credit, Target Brands Inc.

3. Think big. You have to think like a big brand to partner with one. For MapMyFITNESS, that means developing large-scale projects. "A big brand doesn't want to talk about a $10,000 project," Thurston says. "They want to talk in seven figures and really big user numbers." For example, Thurston and his partner proposed that big companies give away their product with subscriptions to the MapMyFITNESS website. The size of their user base--nearly seven million today--was large enough to interest brands like Procter & Gamble's Febreze.

4. Plan for fast growth. If you're growing too quickly to keep up with demand, you'll lose money--and probably your partner. Szaky learned that lesson through experience. "The more we grew, the more we lost," he says. While TerraCycle's sales reached $6.6 million in 2008, it had a net loss of $4.5 million. The next year, Szaky began developing agreements with companies to handle production for him. Today, 40 companies make and sell TerraCycle products for major retailers and TerraCycle turned a profit of $100,000 in the last year.

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Polka Dog Bakery, a Boston-based dog treat maker slated to expand into 1,763 Target stores this May, let the retailer oversee production and distribution in order to make the partnership feasible. "It would have been too much for us to expand at that capacity," says cofounder Robert Van Sickle of his 11-person company.

5. Prepare for scrutiny. Make sure your financial and legal affairs are in order. Since TerraCycle works with multinational companies, the company gets audited every two months. After failing the first few audits in his early partnerships, Szaky realized he needed to focus more on developing proper procedures. "If you are going to go down the path of working in big businesses, having your house in order is critical," he says. "You are going to get the growth but you are also going to get a lot more scrutiny."

6. Build on existing partnerships. Don't rush to find the next partner once you successfully link up with a big company. MapMyFITNESS gets a lot of new business from expanding existing partnerships, Thurston says. Companies are often more willing to consider developing a licensing partnership, for example, if they're already buying advertising on your website. "Too many entrepreneurs chase after the next client instead of recognizing the current client could mean a lot more revenue for them if they simply explore other revenue channels," Thurston says. Partnerships now account for a third of his company's total revenue.


What makes a successful brand partnership? ›

The key to building a solid brand partnership is to work with companies that have a similar target audience or customer segments. If your customers don't care for your partner's products and their audience doesn't care for yours, you'll both see lackluster results on joint campaigns.

How do you collaborate with other brands? ›

How to Collaborate with Brands?
  1. Cross-promote brands on social media. ...
  2. Use your interactive display to collaborate. ...
  3. Collaborate with influencers. ...
  4. Guest Posting. ...
  5. Start a podcast. ...
  6. Create an interview series. ...
  7. Go to networking events. ...
  8. Make sure that remote workers know exactly how to collaborate.

What is a partner marketing strategy? ›

Partnership marketing (sometimes called partner marketing) can be defined as a strategic marketing collaboration between parties that benefits both entities and helps them achieve their business and marketing objectives.

How are brands managed in a partnership? ›

A brand partnership is a mutual agreement between two or more businesses or organizations. Through these partnerships, companies help one another to increase brand exposure, break into new markets, and add extra value to products/services.

What are the 7 partnership principles? ›

Seven Partnership Principles

The partnership principles of equality, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, praxis, and reciprocity provide a conceptual language that coaches can use to describe how they strive to work with teachers.

What are the 7 branding strategies? ›

Here are seven types of branding strategies that have the potential to build brand equity for your business.
  • Personal Branding. ...
  • Product Branding. ...
  • Corporate Branding. ...
  • Service Branding. ...
  • Co-Branding. ...
  • Online Branding. ...
  • No-Brand Branding. ...
  • Define Your Brand Identity.
29 Jun 2022

How do you collab with big brands? ›

How to Reach Out and Collab with Brands
  1. Build your portfolio. We all have to start from somewhere. ...
  2. Do your research. Some people like to set their portfolio up and wait for brands to come to them. ...
  3. Show off! Okay, not in a bragging way, but let them know how you stand apart from the others! ...
  4. Go! Push that send button!
12 Oct 2022

How do you collaborate with big companies? ›

Six Strategies for Partnering with Big Brands
  1. Be unique. Make sure your business pitch is carefully thought out and offers value to your potential partner. ...
  2. Remain persistent. ...
  3. Think big. ...
  4. Plan for fast growth. ...
  5. Prepare for scrutiny. ...
  6. Build on existing partnerships.
20 Feb 2012

What are the 5 principles of partnership? ›

These are:
  • Trust,
  • Shared knowledge,
  • Innovation,
  • Agreed Goals,
  • Balance of return.

What are the 5 main marketing strategies? ›

The 5 P's of marketing are part of what is often referred to as a “marketing mix”. A marketing mix is the actions brands take to market their products and services by using a specific framework with the five biggest components of successful marketing: product, place, price, promotion, and people.

What are the 4 main marketing strategies? ›

(Marketing mix explained) The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion. They are an example of a “marketing mix,” or the combined tools and methodologies used by marketers to achieve their marketing objectives.

What are 4 four branding strategies explain each? ›

Here are four common brand growth strategies for businesses looking to extend their services or product offerings. The four brand strategies are line extension, brand extension, new brand strategy, and flanker/fight brand strategy.

What are the 6 principles of partnership? ›

May be reproduced with permission from original source for training purposes.
  • The Six Principles of Partnership.
  • Everyone desires respect.
  • Everyone needs to be heard.
  • Everyone has strengths.
  • Judgments can wait.
  • Partners share power.
  • Partnership is a process.

What are the 6 characteristics in the partnership? ›

Seven Characteristics of a Great Partnership
  • Trust. Without trust there can be no productive conflict, commitment, or accountability.
  • Common values. ...
  • Chemistry. ...
  • Defined expectations. ...
  • Mutual respect. ...
  • Synergy. ...
  • Great two-way communications.

What are the 6 marketing strategies? ›

The building blocks of an effective marketing strategy include the 6 P's of marketing: product, price, place, promotion, people, and presentation. The effective integration of the 6 P's of marketing can serve as the foundation for an effective growth strategy.

What are the 6 features of branding? ›

Define the objectives of branding in terms of six criterions - descriptive, suggestive, compound, classical, arbitrary and fanciful. It Is essential to recognize the role of brand within the corporate branding strategy and the relation of brand to other brand and products.

What are the 6 essential elements of a brand style guide? ›

There are six essential elements to the brand guidelines you create: brand story, logo, color palette, typography, image guidelines, and tone of voice. They make up the DNA of your Brand Style Guide. You may already have some of them in place.

How do you approach luxury brands for collaboration? ›

Reaching out to a Luxury brand
  1. Follow the brand on all their social media handles, study their other collaborations, their campaigns and become familiar with them.
  2. You need a professional media kit. ...
  3. Always contact brands from your official email! ...
  4. When reaching out, be concise and go straight to the point.
15 Sept 2021

Why do luxury brands do collaborations? ›

Audience expansion and innovation. The purpose of most brand collaborations is to engage and excite fans of the brands in question by bringing something of added value to them, whether that's a limited-edition product, something collectible or a unique offer.

How do two brands collab? ›

Partnership marketing is when two brands split the costs for a mutually beneficial marketing campaign. This could take the form of ads, content marketing, a giveaway, or even a pop-up shop. The key is that both brands are meeting their goals and split any costs that go into the campaign.

What are the 5 ways of boosting collaboration? ›

11 ways to boost team collaboration
  • Foster collaboration as a value. ...
  • Establish communication conventions. ...
  • Invite co-creation. ...
  • Encourage open communication… ...
  • Lead by example. ...
  • Build time for team bonding. ...
  • Highlight successful teamwork. ...
  • Offer mentorship opportunities.
22 Sept 2021

What are the five elements of successful collaboration? ›

7 Essential Elements of Collaboration
  • Cooperation.
  • Assertiveness.
  • Autonomy.
  • Responsibility/Accountability.
  • Communication.
  • Coordination.
  • Mutual Trust and Respect.

What are the 3 C's to develop successful partnership? ›

A successful partnership requires three key elements: comprehension, collaboration, and communication.

What are the 4 stages of partnership? ›

  • Stage I. Non-Partnering: The Singles Stage.
  • Stage II. Pre-Partnering: The Searching Stage.
  • Stage III. Active Partnering: The Courtship Stage.
  • Stage IV. Consolidated Partnering: The Bonding Stage.
  • Stage V. Going to Scale: The Commitment Stage.
1 Mar 2014

What are the 11 different kinds of partnership? ›

Top 11 Types of Partnership: Partnership at Will, Particular Partnership, Flexible Partnership, General Partnership and a Few Others
  • (A) According to Objectives:
  • (B) According to Tenure:
  • (C) According to Nature:
  • A. ...
  • B. ...
  • General Partnership:
  • Limited Partnership:
  • Limited Liability Partnership:

What are the 7 common strategies of advertising? ›

What Types of Advertising Strategies Are There?
  • Content Advertising. ...
  • Pull Advertising. ...
  • Push Advertising. ...
  • Email Marketing. ...
  • SEM. ...
  • Social Ads. ...
  • Amazon Advertising. ...
  • Native Advertising.
30 Jul 2021

What are the 7 designing marketing strategies? ›

7 Steps of a Marketing Strategy Process
  • Build a marketing plan.
  • Create buyer personas.
  • Identify goals.
  • Select the appropriate tools.
  • Review your media.
  • Audit and plan media campaigns.
  • Bring it to fruition.

What are the 4 and 7 P's of marketing? ›

Initially 4, these elements were Product, Price, Place and Promotion, which were later expanded by including People, Packaging and Process. These are now considered to be the “7 P's” mix elements.

What are the 7 functions of marketing? ›

The 7 functions of marketing are promotion, selling, product/service management, marketing information management, pricing, financing and distribution.

What are the 4Cs of marketing? ›

The 4Cs for marketing communications: Clarity; Credibility; Consistency and Competitiveness. What is it? The 4Cs (Clarity, Credibility, Consistency, Competitiveness) is most often used in marketing communications and was created by David Jobber and John Fahy in their book 'Foundations of Marketing' (2009).

What are the seven 7 components of branding strategy? ›

Elements of a Brand Strategy
  • Purpose.
  • Consistency.
  • Emotion.
  • Flexibility.
  • Employee Involvement.
  • Loyalty.
  • Competitive Awareness.
8 Apr 2022

What are the 3 P's of branding? ›

Whether you're starting out with a new brand or you're looking to define who you are as a business, we recommend defining your 3 P's: Purpose, Promise, and Personality.

What are the 5 parts of branding? ›

But, unless you've carefully considered and defined ALL five of the key brand elements—position, promise, personality traits, story, and associations—you still have work to do.

What are the 8 marketing strategies? ›

A marketing strategy is a long-term plan for achieving a company's goals by understanding the needs of customers and creating a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage. It encompasses everything from determining who your customers are to deciding what channels you use to reach those customers.

What are the 6 Personal branding types? ›

According to research, there are 6 main personas that best identify personal brand types - altruists, careerists, hipsters, boomerangs, connectors & selectives. Every branding type represents a motivation through which individuals share information and establish how they're seen within their industry.

What are the 5 A's of personal branding? ›

These are the 5 A's of personal branding:
  • Authenticity.
  • Authority.
  • Aspiration.
  • Affinity.
  • Artisanat.
24 Jul 2022

What are the 5 qualities of successful partnership program? ›

5 Qualities of a Successful Partnership
  • Open Communication. Open communication is the backbone of any effective partnership. ...
  • Accessibility. Signing a deal is only the beginning, implementation is when the heavy lifting starts. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Mutual Benefit. ...
  • Measurable Results.
7 Nov 2019

What are the 4 steps in partnership building? ›

4 steps to build effective community partnerships
  1. Connect with leaders at partner organizations to promote engagement. ...
  2. Define and prioritize goals. ...
  3. Build new partner relationships and strengthen long-standing ones. ...
  4. Ensure screening and referral protocols are seamless.

What are the elements of a good partnership? ›

Here are some elements that good business partnerships require:
  • A shared vision. Business partnerships need a shared vision. ...
  • Compatible strengths. ...
  • Defined roles and limitations. ...
  • A conflict resolution strategy. ...
  • A goal-setting system. ...
  • An exit strategy.
27 Aug 2018

What are the 5 types of partnership? ›

Types of Partnership – 5 Types: General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, Partnership at Will and Particular Partnership.

What are the 10 characteristics of a partnership? ›

10 Characteristics of Unstoppable Partnerships
  • Supportive. For a partnership to be successful each member needs to feel a sense of support and optimism about the collaboration. ...
  • Rewarding. ...
  • Cohesion. ...
  • Open. ...
  • Protective. ...
  • Challenge. ...
  • Catalyst. ...
  • Morale.
18 Jun 2015

What are the 11 characteristics of a partnership? ›

The essential characteristics of partnership are:
  • Contractual Relationship: ...
  • Two or More Persons: ...
  • Existence of Business: ...
  • Earning and Sharing of Profit: ...
  • Extent of Liability: ...
  • Mutual Agency: ...
  • Implied Authority: ...
  • Restriction on the Transfer of Share:

What are the 8 characteristics of a partnership? ›

The essential characteristics of partnership are as follows:
  • Two or more persons: There must be at least two persons to form a partnership. ...
  • Agreement: ...
  • Lawful business: ...
  • Sharing of profits: ...
  • Mutual agency: ...
  • Utmost good faith: ...
  • Unlimited liability: ...
  • Restriction on transfer of interest:

How do you build a strong partnership? ›

How to Build a Strong Partnership
  1. Trust. The foundation of any good relationship is trust. ...
  2. Common values. Some people may argue with me, but I believe that having common values is the very foundation for the successful partnership. ...
  3. Chemistry. ...
  4. Defined Expectations. ...
  5. Mutual respect. ...
  6. Synergy. ...
  7. Great two-way communication.


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