How affinity marketing can beat the blues

Affinity marketing is one of the most powerful DM tools available, particularly in a recession. Why? When two brands co-operate and join forces, the initial marketing costs can be seriously reduced yet the ROI improved.
Imagine Kwik-Fit and Ford joining forces. Ford allows a Kwik-Fit insert to be placed in each one if its used car owners’ welcome packs. Kwik-Fit, in turn, offers a special discount to Ford used car owners for example 30 per cent off new tyres. Ford receives a commission for every offer redeemed, while its customers are given a special value-added deal. Kwik-Fit obviously benefits by being able to market its services to a highly targeted and responsive audience.
When two brands partner like this, the ROI can witness a huge uplift because one brand is essentially endorsing their partner brand’s offer. Even better, in this example the insert costs are low because there is no media delivery cost – the inserts are delivered in existing business collateral. Here it is a welcome pack but it could just as easily be a statement or invoice.
Of course, affinity marketing can involve a multitude of marketing channels, not just inserts – direct mail being the most obvious example. It can also involve deeper levels of co-operation between brands such as data swaps and data sharing.
Affinity marketing sounds straightforward, and it is. However, speaking as an affinity marketing specialist, we often come across basic errors which can harm a brand’s chances of success.
For that reason we have two crucial tips for any marketer looking to venture into the medium:
• Ask an affinity marketing specialist to structure a deal that is watertight. Most problems occur when there is misunderstanding over who covers what responsibilities. For example, who is responsible for campaign evaluation? Brand A or Brand B? How will the monitoring process work and who will lead it? It’s the finer details like these that will make or break an affinity campaign. The best way round it is to structure the right deal for both parties and to do so in a solid, legal framework. By erasing any ambiguity the guidelines will be clear and the campaign will stand a far greater chance of success.
• The second tip is to relax… Time after time we talk to brand owners who when confronted with the opportunity of sharing their customer data or lapsed enquirers’ data simply reply, “No chance, this data is sacred and we will never allow it to be used by a third party, ever.” While this is understandable, it misses the point. It fails to take into account the fact that every name on a database is not unique. In fact, the names will be on many other databases and are contacted constantly by other brands – indeed other brands will be making money out of the same data.
If you’d like more information on the topic (and more tips), simply download our affinity marketing whitepaper. It provides a solid entry-level introduction to the medium and outlines how best to structure the right affinity partnership(s) for your brand.

John Eddolls is director of affinity partnerships at Howse Jackson Marketing

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