Perhaps collaboration marketing is the way forward for marketers this year, with budgets affected by covid-19. Marketing and PR expert, Jess Ruhfus, took brand partnerships to another level when she created a business marketing version of Tinder, Collabosaurus.
We spoke to her about partnerships and the great opportunities that collaboration marketing can really give to companies.
Jessica Ruhfus was only 24 when she founded the online platform that helps different businesses connect with their right partner. At that time she was teaching marketing courses to small business owners. From there, she found out that many SMB owners didn’t really understand the importance of partnership marketing.
“Partnerships were a really big part of that course. But we found that so many small businesses weren’t doing them because they’ve been taken advantage of in the past,” she said. “That was a common theme that we found. There was also you know, they just didn’t really know where to start, or they were sending emails out that were terrible.”
At the same time, online dating was on the rise and that trend inspire Ruhfus to solve her students’ problems.
“A guy next to me in the office was on Tinder. And you know, when you just grab someone’s phone, and you’re like, let me swipe, you know,” she said. “ So I was doing that. And at the same time, I was trying to pull together event partnerships for the company I was working for, and I was like ‘This is so cool. Why doesn’t this exist for brand collaborations?’ And, you know, actually matchmake complementary businesses together.”
A cost-effective marketing
According to Ruhfus, small businesses need to collaborate with more brands, especially during this time of uncertainty where businesses have to minimise marketing cost to stay afloat.
“You know, there’s a stat it’s up to 25 times less expensive than digital advertising,” she said.
“So with so many businesses tightening their purse strings, they’re all looking for ways that they can still stay relevant and reach audiences without the huge investment. Collabosaurus has kind of seen some really nice little growth periods, which has been fantastic.”
In fact, Ruhfus believes that through partnership, brands can connect with other brands outside Australia, allowing them to grow internationally.
“I’ve always seen an opportunity for you know, a business in Australia to wake up in the morning and say, ‘I’d really love some clients in LA’, and they can use Collabosaurus to team up with a complementary business in LA,” she said.
She further explained, “They can cross promote each other’s audiences and do something really cool without actually having to do all of that research called reach out often to grow a network in a completely new city, you have to get on a plane and get over there and attend events and things like that.”
Types of partnership marketing
Ruhfus said that her Collabosaurus is covering three types of partnership marketing.
According to Ruhfus, before COVID-19, many brands collaborated with other brands to create an event. In doing so, smaller brands can work together to get a seat in a bigger venue. Moreover it also allows them to expand their audience and create more engagement.
She said, “We’ve attracted so far about six and a half thousand brands in that fashion, beauty, lifestyle, food and beverage space, we work with quite a few hospitality venues and things like that as well.”
She continued, “So when COVID came here, that was a big shift in terms of all of our hospitality venues, clients have had to completely overhaul and turn around what they’re doing so that they can function online and do all that kind of stuff.”
However, despite the current situation, event collaboration is still popular for some businesses.
“During March in April, there was a big uptake in virtual event collaborations. We saw a lot of online summits and you know, brands teaming up for that,” she said.
Social media collaboration
So far, the most famous partnerships between two brands are social media partnerships. According to Ruhfus, there are two reasons why brands prefer to choose the social network as their main platform.
While it allows the brand to operate during the lockdown, it is also one of the fastest and easiest types of collaborations. And at the same time, brands can grow their network and create more relationships with other brands, which is important for new businesses.
Ruhfus explained that social media collaboration between two brands is different than influencer marketing management.
“We just connect brands with other complimentary brands for brand to brand collaborations,” she said.
One of the examples of the collaboration is hashtag challenge.
“By teaming up with another brand and running a hashtag challenge you can double the potential rate and cross promote really effectively into each other’s audiences,” she said.
This type of brand partnership is usually done in the B2B industry where businesses collaborate with other designers to deliver more content. This, as a result, will double promotional channels without any additional spin.
An example of this would be a photographer and a videographer that collaborate with hospitality venues.
“Together with a videographer, Grace Elizabeth (the photographer) offered a package of 10 free images and a short video deck for any hospitality business in the local area to showcase their deliverable menu or online menu,” she said.
“By doing that, they secured press they got in front of new customers, you know, like they’ve now secured so many customers for life through that which has been so great. And they can lean on each other skill set.”