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IdeaXchange
Erin Lenhardt and Sally Rogers, Parsnip

Identify partners by finding out what your customers value most

Taking a context-based approach to understanding your customers will help you determine which brand partners are right for you. The second in this three-part guide will help you better understand what your customers value about your product.

As noted in our last article, partnership marketing outperforms all other types of marketing, therefore, it should play a key role in your 2019 marketing strategy. Partnership marketing involves two or more companies working together to cross-promote each other’s products to like-minded audiences.

Once you’ve identified how your customers use your product, consider what exactly they value about it.

What your customers value about your product

You’ve created your business around a set of values that are present in your product’s ingredients, positioning and branding, which have all been designed to resonate with the way you want your customers to feel about their purchase. Your products stand for something you believe your customers care about, so it is important to understand what your customers actually value about your product. By identifying the one or two things that are most important to a customer persona, you’re also identifying the product attributes or company values around which to identify possible partners.  

Examples of attribute or values-driven matches include:

  • Convenience (i.e. portable pour-over coffee x on-the-go, just-add-water oatmeal cups)
  • The story of why you built your business (i.e. alignment around a transformative life experience that prompted the creation of the business)
  • Plant-based lifestyle (i.e. plant-based beauty x plant-based snack)
  • Giving back (i.e. 1% For The Planet or other profits returned to a cause)
  • Perception of coolness (i.e. cricket flour chips x adaptogen tea)
  • Indulgent (i.e. luxurious bath balls x almond milk latte mix)

Contemplate what your most loyal evangelists have voiced about loving about your product, and know that is what they value the most.

For example, the founder of Jacobsen Salt Co. was the first to bring high-end salt to America, and his business has a commitment to craftsmanship and community. His customers value that commitment, and know that if they want a great salt, they go to Jacobsen. These values of craftsmanship and community come to life in his partnerships (which have been numerous over the years).

Jacobsen Salt Co. has created co-branded products with other community leaders like Stumptown (which invests in farms, mills, or factories in order to begin developing partnerships with coffee growers) or Spielman Bagels, a local Portland favorite with a deeply supportive following. These partnerships are a win for Jacobsen’s customers and his partner’s customers because of the values-alignment of their products; that alignment helps to build customer loyalty around specific values, like investing in and supporting your local community.

So examine what your customers are writing about, what they’re sharing on social media, and what they first say when they try your product. Those attributes are clues about what they actually value about your product, and a great starting point for considering who your next partner should be.

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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