How to Win Brand Partnership Proposals in 3 Steps

Nina Zaparde
August 18, 2022
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How to Win Brand Partnership Proposals in 3 Steps

You’ve done it. You’ve decided to expand your digital storefront with cool products from awesome brands. You want to contact them, but also want to make your proposal stand out from the rest. You know they’re contacted every day with proposals about brand partnerships from other storefronts.

If the brands accept your proposals, ecommerce partnership opportunities will present themselves in the form of cross-selling complementary products, increasing bundling options, and offering more amazing products in one place.

Seizing these opportunities will have an immediate impact on AOV and GMV with existing traffic to your storefront. But how do you make your storefront interesting to brands as a growth channel, get your storefront in front of more people, and strengthen your relationship with new partners? 

Enter: co-marketing.

Co-marketing turns proposals into true collaborations.

Co-marketing is often overlooked or pushed to the side in brand-to-brand partnership proposals for ecommerce. And the main reason co-marketing is not done —or not done well—is because it’s not part of the conversation with potential partners early on.

By adding co-marketing to your proposal, you can bring some of the benefits of influencer marketing to your brand partnership strategy. If you look at yourself and each brand you partner with as a potential influencer, you can go beyond the transactional nature of an ecommerce partnership that involves dropshipping, data swapping, and commissions.

In this article, we’ll show you how to weave co-marketing into proposals about selling another brand’s products on your storefront. We’ll also show you how to organize co-marketing tasks alongside ecommerce merchandising tasks to make the most of your brand partnerships.

Step One: Make co-marketing part of your brand partnership proposal.

Your proposal to partners will include information about their products you want to sell, the commission you want to sell them at, shipping rates, and other information related to how, when, and where you’ll sell their products.

The majority of brand partnership proposals end here. But if you want to ensure growth is part of a future partnership, it’s good to mention how the “you win, I win” nature of a partnership goes beyond selling and into marketing.

Here is an example of a “traditional brand partnership proposal template” that might not be accepted due to its transactional nature:

Hello! We’d love to partner with you on selling [product name] on our storefront. How does 25% commission sound? We can pass through your regular shipping rates to our customers. We plan to cross-sell this on PDPs and inside carts that contain [product name].

And here is an example of a “brand collaboration proposal template” that has a better chance of being accepted due to its collaborative nature:

Hello! We’d love to partner with you on selling [product name] on our storefront and help spread the word about [brand name]. 

For sales, we’re thinking 25% commission and having you pass through your regular shipping rates to our customers. We plan to cross-sell the product on PDPs and inside carts that contain [product name]

For marketing, we’d love to build a story around what’s possible when you bring our products and shared values together. We can create a campaign around this idea and share it with our social followers, email subscribers, and site visitors.

The second template uses transactional language from the first template to identify the business opportunity of the ecommerce partnership. But it goes a step further and adds co-marketing language to identify the collaborative growth opportunity.

Benefits of adding co-marketing to your brand collaboration proposal include:

  • Negotiate a higher commission. In addition to opening a new sales channel for your future partner, you’re opening a new marketing channel. This added value incentivizes a brand to accept a higher-than-average commission in a proposal.
  • Set expectations upfront. Some brands will not have the resources or interest to take a partnership beyond the transactional. If part of your ecommerce partnership strategy is to merge merchandising with marketing, it’s good to know this up front.]
  • Bring in marketing early on. Less knowledge transfer is needed between merchandising and marketing if marketers are included in the brand collaboration proposal process. They don’t need to be in the initial emails, but adding them to the proposal thread will provide valuable context.

Step Two: Schedule co-marketing brainstorming sessions.

While the brand is reviewing the proposal, introduce your marketing team to their point of contact. As previously mentioned, you can include them on your email thread about the proposal so they have context about the partnership. 

When marketers know about the commission and details behind the partnership, they can better prioritize outreach and co-marketing efforts if there are multiple brands involved in an ecommerce growth initiative. They can combine partnership data with marketing data related to a partner’s site traffic, social following, and audience size.

💡Brand marketers often lead co-marketing initiatives, but you as the founder or someone else on your team can lead this as well. Co-marketing mostly comes down to communication (check), creativity (see below), and organization (step three).

Collaboration examples between brands

Reel Teasers

After your proposal is accepted, you can start building interest in the collaboration immediately. The microwave cookware brand, Anyday, did this with multiple partners in a teaser reel. The teaser built awareness around their “pantry partners” initiative, a food marketplace that would make the recipes on their website shoppable. 

Reel Collabs

After the teaser was published, Anyday created a recipe reel for each pantry partner: Momofuku Goods, A Dozen Cousins, Omsom, and Maya Kaimal Foods. Many of the partners cross-posted the reel to their account. 

💡 Ask brands what their current marketing goals are, and to collaborate in ways that meet both your goals. For many brands, creating more reels content is a huge priority.

Landing pages

To support social media marketing, Anyday also published the recipes on their website. In addition to receiving organic traffic from foodies searching for specific recipes on Google, Anyday made these recipes shoppable. On the recipe page, an Anyday product and partner product are recommended.

Step Three: Organize co-marketing alongside ecommerce.

When helping storefronts curate and sell products from other brands, our team at Canal shares a progress tracker and checklist that helps them move the status of each brand collaboration proposal from “Creating Proposal” to “Products Listed on Storefront”. 

Storefronts that want to take full advantage of an ecommerce brand partnership will add co-marketing items to this progress tracker and checklist. They might add additional statuses to come after “Products Listed on Storefront” such as “Co-Marketing Started” and “Co-Marketing Complete”.

Here is a simplified version of the "partnership tracker" some storefronts we work with use:

Bridging the gap between sales and marketing is always a challenge. But planning for marketing in the pre-proposal and proposal phase of an ecommerce partnership makes it less so.

Automate partnership logistics to focus on growth.

Canal is used between storefronts and brands to facilitate ecommerce partnership proposals and automate payouts, product data exchange, inventory syncing, and logistics. Through this automation, space is created for brands to collaborate on co-marketing initiatives. This brings sales and marketing together and creates long-lasting partnerships that generate more revenue for you and your brand partners.

Nina Zaparde
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