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Erin Lenhardt and Sally Rogers, Parsnip

How to surprise and delight your customers through partnership marketing

Taking a context-based approach to understanding your customers will help you determine which brand partners are right for you. The last part of this three-part guide encourages you to think about surprising your customers.

Once you’ve identified how your customers use your product and what they deeply value about it, let’s figure out how you can surprise and delight your customers by working with the right partners.

What might surprise and delight your customers

Now that you deeply understand how your customers use your product and what they value about your product, consider how you might delight them. You want them to shout “Wow, this is so cool!” instead of “Uhh, what are you doing?”

To surprise and delight them, you need to get creative. Find the brand partners that are just at the edge of the typical use case of your product. If you’re a cracker company, and you partner with great cheese companies, that’s a good start. But what if you started to partner with a chocolate flavored nut butter? Or an ice cream company to make a sweet/savory ice cream sandwich pairing? Or what if you worked with a caramel company to create a unique toffee product with both of your products? As long as you have found values-alignment with the brand partners you work with, the creativity you showcase in collaboration with other brands will inspire joy in your customers, which will make you memorable.

Don’t worry about going too far astray. Consider San Francisco’s Etta + Billie: They drew inspiration from Dynamo Donut’s Lemon Pistachio flavor to create a soap of the same name and scent. Fun and refreshing! Because there was values alignment between the two businesses, the partnership worked (handmade luxury soap from a certified Green Business x artisanal donuts made with local and organic ingredients).

Once you have done the work to identify the context in which your customer lives, works and enjoys your product, have fun with your marketing by working with brand partners. Your customers are telling you who your next brand partner is; listen to them.

Erin Lenhardt and Sally Rogers are the cofounders of Parsnip, a startup that connects brands with partnership opportunities. Parsnip members use the tool to find values-aligned partners for giveaways, newsletter exchanges, guest blog posts, in-store demos, gift baskets or product placement at events.

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