Affinity Marketing

Explore the Strategy of Affinity Marketing

affinity marketing

Have you ever been offered a credit card branded with the name of another service?

When J.P. Morgan Chase Bank partnered with Amazon.com to offer an Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card, they understood the online shopping market was expanding. What better way to cater to online shoppers than by partnering with the world's largest online retailer?

This partnership, also known as an affinity marketing campaign, allowed these two companies to link their brands in a mutually beneficial relationship. (See also Alliance Marketing)

These campaigns are win-win scenarios for both parties. When one business partners with an organization to provide goods in exchange for access to a new market, both parties benefit. Through their affinity partnership, Chase Bank increases its overall customer base, while Amazon offers incentives to those using the credit card with their service, increasing the amount of people likely to buy products from Amazon.

Why use Affinity Marketing?

  • Establish client referral policies and procedures
  • Develop ambassadors within your community to promote your services
  • Negotiate mutually beneficial marketing relationships
  • Solicit endorsements from associations with many members
  • Group marketing effort to individual niches
  • Cross-selling products to existing members

Source: “Relationship Marketing: Earning the Right to Business” Jack Burke

Who employs Affinity Marketing campaigns?

There are two parties involved in an affinity marketing campaign – the affinity group, and the business providing the group with a new product or service. Affinity groups typically include:

  • Membership organizations or associations
  • Nonprofits and charities
  • Companies that cater to specific demographics

Businesses who partner with affinity groups widely differ in size, scope, and product offered. Businesses who enter affinity partnerships may be as small as a coffee shop that sells the bagels from a local bakery, or as large as credit card companies who brand sports team logos on their cards to attract fans. Some other examples of businesses typically involved in affinity marketing campaigns include:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Banks
  • Supermarkets
  • Large Clothing Outlets
  • Real Estate Companies
  • Gas Stations

What kinds of customers are effectively marketed to in Affinity Marketing Campaigns?

The greatest strength of an affinity marketing campaign might be how customizable it is. There are hundreds of affinity groups and target markets for companies to introduce themselves to, and with the right campaign, these strategies are largely successful.

Members of organizations are always looking for more incentives to stay in an organization, making them one of the most successful affinity groups targeted by campaigns. For example, the AARP is the largest organization for older adults in America – a target population for The Home Depot. When marketers at Home Depot realized that the best way to reach this group of older adults was to gain the assistance of the AARP, they entered into an affinity partnership with the association.

Representatives from the AARP understood the potential benefits of partnering with The Home Depot, such as deals to offer current members, and increased advertising from in-store branding. Through AARP newsletters and updates, representatives from the association advertised the new promotions and benefits Home Depot was offering, giving AARP members more reason to renew their membership.

Simply reaching out to a new group or organization isn't enough to develop a strong relationship. Successful affinity marketing campaigns take teams of marketing strategists and business negotiators to leverage a strong partnership with another business or organization. (See also Cooperative Marketing)

How is an Affinity Marketing plan developed and employed?

At the start of an affinity marketing campaign, companies generally have a rough idea of which affinity group they wish to reach. Marketing managers first look to identify potential market areas, and begin work with the sales side of a company to discover the potential benefits of entering these markets. This portion of the marketing campaign is very numbers intensive, requiring the marketing team to examine how different affinity groups could affect sales of a product.

Critical elements of affinity marketing

Communication is one of the most important elements of a successful affinity marketing campaign. Marketing teams must take the following steps:

  • Choose the right business partner
  • Establish clearly defined goals, objectives, and responsibilities
  • Ensure that the partner's goals are aligned with yours

Source: “Accessing the American Dream: Affinity Marketing Partnership Strategies for Financial Institutions and Nonprofits”

After deciding on an affinity group to target, the marketing team begins to create a list of goals and objectives for their campaign. This includes not only sales figures, but also aspects like company image. Company and brand image is an important element of any marketing campaign, so the marketing team must identify organizations that compliment their current image.

After developing a list of potential partners, marketing managers reach out to those organizations and businesses to negotiate the terms of the partnership. During negotiations, marketing specialists spell out exactly why an organization should partner with a business – from promotional offers and deals, to meeting the expanding needs of an organization's members.

Business partnerships entail a large amount of legal responsibility, meaning both organizations must draft terms and responsibilities to ensure all needs are met. If both organizations agree to the terms of the agreement, an affinity partnership develops.

From here, the affinity marketing campaign truly takes shape, as public relations experts and advertising agencies broadcast new deals and offers the organization or business is providing to their customers or affiliates (See also Public Relations Specialist). The campaign is directed toward the target audience, and sales representatives begin to track the impact of the campaign.

Leaders from both ends of the partnership meet frequently to discuss any improvements or adjustments that may be made to the campaign, taking into consideration market research and sales figures. If a company partnered with a nonprofit, they often conduct surveys to find the public reaction to the new partnership, and if it's improved company image. Nonprofits report any increased influx of funding, and decide whether or not to continue the marketing campaign.

What career titles work with Affinity Marketing strategies?

Discover some of the different career titles involved in implementing successful affinity marketing strategies.

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Marketing Managers
    Median pay: $112,800
    Top earners: $166,400
  • Promotions Managers
    Median pay: $83,890
    Top earners: $166,400
  • Marketing Specialists
    Median pay: $60,250
    Top earners: $112,560

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Marketing Manager

What do they do?

Effective marketing managers have a host of analytical and managerial skills necessary to enact affinity marketing campaigns. The main responsibility of marketing managers is to estimate demand for a product, and identify potential markets for that product.

Marketing managers help determine affinity groups for companies to target, crunching numbers, and developing a list of potential partners to reach those groups. Marketing mangers must have strong communication skills, and be able to negotiate business partnerships to establish a successful affinity marketing campaign.

Education and experience

Most marketing managers hold at least bachelor's degrees in marketing. Other bachelor's degrees typically accepted include business, accounting, economics, mathematics, or statistics.

Simply earning your bachelor's won't guarantee you a marketing manager's position. Marketing managers also typically gain several years of experience in lower-level marketing jobs before making the jump to managerial positions.

Promotions Manager

What do they do?

Promotions managers work with marketing managers to help determine what promotions or benefits a company can offer an organization in an affinity partnership. This individual brainstorms the various potential benefits and promotions to offer affinity partners, and cross references them with the marketing manager to determine their impact.

Promotions managers help to plan out advertising strategies for the partnership, discovering ways to reach customers. This might include mailing campaigns, telephone calls, or brochures to let an organization’s members know about new benefits or deals they qualify for.

Education and experience

Promotions managers are required to obtain at least a bachelor's degree before landing the job. Usually, these individuals seek degrees in marketing, business, advertising, or public relations. Promotions managers must have a strong foundation in business communication that allows them to work proactively with marketing managers and partner leaders.

Marketing Specialists

What do they do?

Marketing specialists are brought into a company to consult about marketing strategies. These professionals typically have years of experience developing marketing campaigns, allowing them to provide guidance in the campaign.

Many marketing specialists are independent contractors with great reputations for success. The marketing specialist sometimes takes the role of the marketing manager, while others take a much broader role in the overall campaign, overseeing multiple areas from negotiations to promotions.

Education and experience

Most marketing specialists hold at least bachelor's degrees in marketing, but experience is truly the largest indicator of an effective marketing specialist. Most marketing specialists obtain at least 10 years experience before entering the independent contracting field.

Affinity Marketing Skills and Marketing Schools

Examine some of the classes students take to help them implement effective affinity marketing strategies later in life.

  • Principles of Marketing – Identifying target markets, Branding strategies
  • Marketing Management – Assessing an affinity group's need, determine partners
  • Resource Allocation – Managing a sustainable marketing budget
  • Advertising and Marketing Communications – Business Etiquette, online communication with affinity groups, proposal presentation
  • Strategic Management – tackle new problems that arise after employing affinity marketing campaign
  • Organizational Behavior – understand how organizations are structured, managing marketing teams

How can a marketing school help you succeed in this field?

A marketing degree program asks the essential question of marketing: how do ensure you understand your customers, and how do you deliver superior value to them? For strategists implementing affinity marketing techniques, this is the first question they must ask to discover how to market products to new affinity groups.

Marketing programs introduce future professionals to the background and skills needed to effectively communicate their brands to different affinity groups. One of the biggest skills stressed in marketing school carries these individuals to success later in life: communication.

Business and marketing communication skills are essential to develop an effective affinity marketing partnership with an organization. In marketing school, students learn how to present business proposals they develop in class. These exercises allow students to practice their presentation skills in front of classmates, taking criticism and adjusting their speaking styles.

These skills transfer to the real world when marketers present their affinity marketing campaign proposals to potential affinity partners.

Marketing school classes also teach students about the psychology of consumers, and why they buy certain goods, join organizations, and seek out specific brands – elements that are directly correlated to successful affinity marketing campaigns. (See also Consumer Psychology)

This background in consumer psychology allows professionals examining the use of affinity marketing campaigns to consider the needs of an affinity group, and if their product can match those needs. Consumer behavior profiling and marketing analysis are some of the most critical elements of any successful affinity marketing campaign. By exploring the benefits of different consumer markets, professionals can constantly expand their business without experiencing market stagnation.

Because affinity marketing is associated with entering new markets, professionals must also have a complete understanding of how to develop new products and services. As marketing specialists examine the impact of an affinity marketing campaign, they may discover ways to increase effectiveness by adjusting current products or offering different ones. (See also Product Development) Certain marketing courses provide students the opportunity to learn the value and process of developing new products to meet the need of a new customer base.

To learn more about how earning a degree in marketing can help drive success in affinity marketing campaigns, request information from schools offering marketing degrees.

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