What is Affinity Marketing?

As one of the most misunderstood marketing practices, the term affinity marketing is often met with some confusion.

Also referred to as partnership marketing, affinity marketing focuses on developing strategic partnerships between complementary brands and businesses. A mutually beneficial marketing strategy can then be adopted between the pair.

For example, a well-known UK car repair chain once formed a partnership with an established insurance company to offer a range of products to the insurance company’s customers.

Customers received a voucher entitling them to 25% off an MOT and service. This drives more customers to the car repair chain, whilst the insurance company benefits from commissions on every car service and MOT sold.

Without this partnership, the car repair chain would never have access to the insurance company’s data and the insurance company would not benefit from the extra income generated from the special offer.

All very simple really, however, it’s a little more sophisticated than that. What about leveraging each other’s brand values, sharing marketing expertise, research and an exchange of skills between the teams? These are all additional benefits from partaking in an affinity partnership.

However, there are a number of misconceptions about affinity marketing that may deter brands from developing what could potentially be a highly beneficial partnership with a complementary business...

“It’s the same as affiliate marketing.”

Despite having very similar sounding names, affiliate marketing and affinity marketing are two completely different practices.

Affiliate marketing is a pure performance-based relationship, in which you sell someone else’s products or services and get rewarded for doing so. The depth of relationship between the parties is usually quite shallow, individual brands are protected, not shared and these relationships are not particularly strong.

Affinity marketing is far more comprehensive than this. By dedicating time to matching two companies with similar brand values, a long lasting relationship can be formed where both parties benefit, working as a team during the difficult times as well as the periods of success.


“If I share my database, I will no longer have control over it.”

You have worked hard to build-up your database of clients, so it is understandable that you might be reluctant to share it with others.

However, by working with a value-aligned company such as ourselves, a match that complements your brand can be sourced in order to develop a marketing strategy that works.

You will have control over how your data is used at all times; it's our business to make sure the terms of partnership are right for you. As in all cases, the devil is in the detail, great care should be taken to protect both sets of customers, it works both ways.

We specialise in supporting businesses throughout the partnership; ensuring that both sides are working towards the same goal and any conflicts or disputes are resolved. There are clear definitions of success that all parties buy into, accept some things will not immediately work like a well oiled machine. You are learning about each other and this may take some time.


“Affinity marketing takes too long to work.”

Like all new relationships, it takes time. Accept this at the beginning and be patient. If the teams, the brands, the audience, the products and services and the timing is right – it will work. It’s the early learnings from launch that will set the pace of success, but it’s well worth the wait!

Increased web traffic and immediate access to thousands/hundreds of thousands of new potential customers with lower marketing costs are a couple of the many benefits. By pinpointing the accuracy of market spend, we can expect improved conversion of enquiries and more chances of improving retention and sharing of marketing intelligence.

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