Partner Acquisition

Finding partners to work with you on a sweepstakes is the first step that we find many brands struggle with. If you’re a fairly new business in your niche or you don’t have many connections, it can be tough to find partners who are willing to work with you on a campaign.

So, how do you find potential partners? Lauren says that it is easy to find partners if you keep your eye out for sweepstakes or contests in the first place, because then you have a grasp for which brands run them.

“I must be subscribed to at least 150 newsletters. I flag the ones that involve co-promotions, and keep a spreadsheet of who's working together.

Before you send out pitches, it's valuable to know who's open to partnerships, which other brands they're aligned with, and what kind of promotions they've participated in recently.”

This advice is extremely important, because this is the first step in identifying potential partners who are warm leads. If they’re running sweepstakes or partner promotions already, then you already know they are open to the idea of running similar campaigns.

Tip: Set up a new email address that you can use to subscribe to newsletters. This way, you’re not flooding your current inbox with newsletters.

Seek out 20-30 brands in your niche that are complimentary to your brand and not a direct competitor. Subscribe to their newsletters, and over time you will see which ones are running promotions. Each consecutive day, subscribe to 5 more newsletters to keep expanding your reach.

Use our spreadsheet template to keep track of which brands are running promotions, who they worked with, when they worked with them, and what the prize value was. This spreadsheet will help you keep track of all these promotions, and it will make your outreach easier since you can easily reference it when crafting your outreach emails.

Access our tracking spreadsheet.

Access Spreadsheet

Partner Acquisition

With a new or small brand

If your brand is small, fairly new, or you just don’t have any connections to reach out to, Lauren says it’s acceptable to send a cold email when reaching out to partners.

“Everyone's partnerships program started small. The great thing about co-marketing is that you're building relationships as you go. If a past partner had a positive experience working with you, they're often happy to introduce you to new leads. We're all trying to accomplish the same thing, so it's helpful to exchange an intro or a favor when you can."

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from anyone. You need to test your outreach (try multiple email templates to see which one gets more responses), and test the type of partner you are reaching out to (perhaps the brand you reached out to is too large, so try finding a smaller brand to start).

What type of partners should you look for—and how many?

Before sending out a cold email though, you should always do your research.

Keep an eye out for potential partners, and list them in your spreadsheet for future reference. On a per-campaign basis, Lauren says she usually goes for 3-4 partners, depending upon how well-aligned everyone is.

A really strong group of 3 partners has the potential to convert many entrants to their email lists, while a group of 6 partners is going to be really tough, because onboarding entrants to 6 different lists can feel spammy and it may upset readers.

In determining the types of partners you should be seeking, you need to think about content fit.

Picture this, Lauren says:

“If an ad for your brand showed up on a potential partner’s site, would that seem natural? Or would it appear out of place? If it doesn’t feel natural, that partner probably isn’t the right fit for you.”

You never want to work with anyone who is in direct competition with your brand, and you also likely don’t want to work with anyone that has an audience size that is much smaller than yours. However, Lauren says that a smaller list may be able to buy in by sponsoring the prize, thereby taking on the costs that the other partners would have to split.

Our advice: Seek partners who compliment your brand and who you know have run campaigns in the past. If one of your potential partners is much larger than you and you don’t think they would be willing to work with you, you can offer to sponsor the prize costs, which would help you get your foot in the door.

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Part 3: Partner Outreach

On to Part 3