The Key to AP’s Award-Winning Strategic Partnerships Model
Acceleration Partners is a leading partnership marketing agency that is driven by our commitment to high-performing partnerships. We work hard to create and nurture partnerships that will drive exceptional outcomes for our clients. Our ability to help brands scale and accelerate their program performance is rooted in our unique approach to affiliate and partnership acquisition.
In my conversations with partners over the years, I’ve always been delighted when receiving positive feedback about our agency—whether it’s that Acceleration Partners (AP) is their favorite agency to work with, or that our teams are extremely responsive and are always open to connecting on a one-on-one basis.
How has AP maintained this reputation for leading with a partnerships-first mindset? Matching our clients with the right affiliates and strategic partners lays the foundation for all other brand-building efforts. If you have been searching for a partnership marketing agency that has a proven track record of success and can help you shatter growth barriers, AP is that agency.
Join us as we explore our process so that you can better understand how we deliver optimal value for our clients.
Finding the Best Partnership Opportunities
When approaching a partnership between an advertiser and an affiliate, it’s easy to cast a wide net to get as many partners into the program as quickly as possible.
Many agencies will taut how many affiliate partners they have in their ecosystem, which can seem impressive on paper. But that does not mean they’ve formed high quality and individualized partnerships with these affiliates. It’s also important that agencies don’t make certain promises in order to sell a client, and then are unable to keep those promises once the client’s program kicks off.
While casting a wide partner net may help achieve the goal of trying to make everyone money, it may not be aligned with the advertiser’s unique business goals or their target customers. AP’s approach to partnerships is always quality over quantity.
Finding the right partners for our brands it at the core of what we do as a team.
Communication is key in any relationship, but especially when approaching a new affiliate for a client. A true partnership takes all sides into consideration. One mistake I’ve seen in this space is when an agency fails to take an affiliate partner’s individual offering into consideration when making decisions about a brand’s affiliate program.
When forming new partnerships, it’s important to first gain an in-depth understanding of the client’s business objectives. Some key questions we ask include:
- What are the client’s KPIs?
- Who is their core audience?
- What drives them?
- What is the message they’re looking to get out there?
- What type of customer are they looking to reach?
- How do they measure success?
Once there is a full understanding of the client’s goals, then we can begin figuring out who the best partners would be. Partners must align with these goals and be able to share actionable steps on how they can be achieved. They should also look into how similar advertisers in their portfolio are doing in order to share estimates of how they believe the new advertiser will be able to perform. It’s crucial to the success of a program that the affiliate is able to reach the audience the brand is looking for.
Another key part to finding the best partnership opportunities is knowing when there is NOT a fit between the partner and the brand. Not all partnerships will be successful, which means understanding ahead of time when a partnership simply does not make sense and not being afraid to say no.
Sometimes it’s clear that an affiliate can help a brand drive traffic, but AP recognizes the need to narrow down the field even more. It’s not just about driving traffic; affiliates should be driving the right traffic to a brand. If an agency pushes a brand and affiliate to partner regardless of this insight (or if these details aren’t even considered), then the agency will fall back on the bad practice of removing partners down the line because of poor performance, instead of getting ahead of the issue.
At AP, we carefully review and vet affiliates for client programs before making the connection. By taking a strategic approach to pairing clients with affiliates, we avoid the misalignment of values and ensure partners are able to achieve the specific KPIs a brand is hoping to reach.
How AP Matches the Right Partners to Clients
Growing our clients’ programs is what drives us, and all of AP has the same focus: to help our clients be successful. Communication is key in determining a potential partnership, and our teams must align internally first before taking the next step.
Below is an overview of the step-by-step process AP takes to match the right partners with brands:
- Gain a full understanding of the client. First step should always be about getting to know a client, their business goals, and what they hope to achieve. We also take the time to learn what has been successful in the past for the brand, if there are similar affiliates to their existing partners that could produce high results, and what their current strategy looks like.
- Discern what challenges and pain points the brand wants to address. AP always wants to make sure we’re finding solutions to our clients’ challenges, which means first understanding what hasn’t been working in their program and why.
- Discuss openness to varying partnership opportunities. We also check in with our clients to figure out their comfort levels when it comes to testing out new partnerships and pursuing out-of-the-box opportunities.
- Connect with the partner on brand alignment. As previously mentioned, it’s imperative to find a partner that can meet an advertiser’s unique goals and KPIs. We ask in-depth questions to a brand’s potential partner, some of which include:
- Will this brand resonate with their audience?
- Are their users interested in this category?
- Does the partner’s audience demographic align with the brand’s?
- Establish clear, two-way communication. If the client initially says no, we make to share the WHY and be transparent with the partner. Everyone needs to have a full understanding of why a relationship won’t work or be mutually beneficial.
- Create a flexible, innovative environment. Affiliates are typically very flexible and open to finding a solution that works for everyone. In some cases, they may be open to trying a short-term test or willing to negotiate a commission or CPA rate that works for all budgets. If a brand is not willing to discuss mutually beneficial options, then they may not be the right fit for that particular partner.
- Dissolve outdated generalizations and perceptions. Sometimes brands can have a certain bias toward an affiliate type based on a bad past experience. While AP is always willing to work within a brand’s guidelines, we also strongly encourage brands to avoid taking a blanket approach. With guidance from AP partnership experts who can clearly communicate the benefits of each partner type, brands can unlock new levels of opportunity. Every partner is unique and can bring different value to a partnership; they are not one-size-fits-all.
Success Story: Overcoming an Outdated Perception to Increase Revenue
AP has client in the footwear vertical whose program had traditionally only been partnering with content and other top-of-funnel affiliates. A leading loyalty partner did an assessment and realized that their users had been asking for this particular brand. They estimated that the brand would perform very well on their loyalty platform.
AP encouraged the brand to discuss the opportunity over a call, which gave the affiliate the opportunity to put together a customized proposal based on the brand’s goals. The brand communicated their hesitations and concerns, and by discussing it directly, the affiliate was able to communicate how they could alleviate these and help the brand be successful on their platform.
Eventually, the brand took the leap and agreed to partnering with the loyalty affiliate. Their affiliate partner was not only able to drive a high amount of revenue to the brand, but able to drive the right incremental traffic that the brand was looking for.
Strategic Partnerships the AP Way
AP takes the time to understand the challenges and pain points your company is facing by fully immersing ourselves in your brand.
We help our clients scale their existing programs, build new partnership marketing strategies from the ground up, recruit partners depending on your unique objectives and KPIs, develop customized optimization strategies to maximize partnerships during all seasons in your client program, and assist brands in achieving organizational goals like expanding into new countries and markets with partners.
By choosing AP, you’re partnering with an agency dedicated to finding the right partners for your brand that will drive long-term results and align with your business objectives.