Find Your Next Brand Partner With This Creative Exercise About Your Customers' Values

By Emily Hines Markunas
Marketing StrategyBrand StrategyBrand Builder Expertise

This guest post comes from Emily Hines Markunas, a freelance brand manager for growing CPG brands.

Brand partnerships come in all forms but one thing that ties all the successful ones together is that the partnership is founded on the basis of a commonality. Oftentimes the best partnerships are not ones where the shared trait is surface level like ingredients or certifications, but rather a little deeper like values.

The exercise in this blog post is to help you work through what some of the unique values are that both you and your customer hold. Because working with another company whose values align with something your customer sees and appreciates in you, makes for strong messaging in a partnership that actually feels deeper than just an ingredient similarity.

The main thing to keep in mind in this exercise is that you and your customers have a lot of shared values. And, just because some of those values are not ones that you have intentionally listed in your own brand’s strategy, does not mean they do not have the potential to spark a partnership so long as they still align with your brand’s overall promise, messaging, etc. So read on to find your next partner with this creative exercise about your customers' values.

Step 1: Make a Customer Profile

If you have not already done so, this is a good time to really think about and take a look at your customer avatar. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are they at surface level? age, income, education, location, etc.
  • What are their deeper feelings and emotions? fears, needs, hopes, dreams, desires, struggles, pains, etc. What keeps them up at night? What sparks them joy?
  • What are their interests, where do they go when they are not engaging with your brand: how do they workout, what are they likely to eat, what media do they consume, what do they find funny, who do they look up to, etc.

Go deep and embrace your inner culture nerd and psychologist. That’s the fun of marketing! In fact, a recent Marketing Week survey found that behavior is the most commonly used customer segmentation tool.

Now look at all of this holistically and answer the big question here: what do my customers value? And don’t think of values as just the usual ethical ones: honesty, integrity, etc. (although those are important); think about what they find valuable in their life and what traits they value in themselves.

Side note: This exercise is a great one to do because it affects a lot of decisions you will make in your marketing, product, and business development. It is something that you could spend a large amount of time really diving into with customer surveys, but for time and budget sake you can also do a quick jot down to the questions above as a great first step.

Step 2: Make Lists (+ A Totally Made Up Case Study)

Here’s an example to show you the real possibility of opening up your world to partnership potential by doing this exercise.

Company*: A monthly pillow subscription company. (Because nobody has the time or money to find the perfect pillow, until it shows up at your front door one month.)

*This is totally made up, but I think I am onto something here.

Demographic: Females, Age 25-45, Expendable Income, Live in Cities, College Education, Work Full Time or are Self Employed

Psychographic: Career focused, little time between work, home, activities, friends and dating, health conscious and know the value of a good night's rest, overworked, tired, want to be successful, want to have it all, willing to pay for convenience, familiar with technology and subscription models, their home is their haven, have a side hustle

Interests: networking, cooking at home, giving back, trends, health food, minimalism, capsule wardrobes, yoga, pilates, spin class, online publications & blogs, technology, interior decorating, coffee shops

Values: convenience, individualized service, health, hustling, sustainability, mindful spending, community, connection, comfort, decluttered life

Step 3: Cross Reference With Brands

Now that you have your customer profile, start to cross-reference the list of values and psychographic qualities with the list of interests to find the perfect potential brands to work with.

For our above example, the values of ‘health’ and ‘convenience’ combined with the interest of ‘cooking at home’ gets you to Nomiku, a company that has combined their sous vide immersion cooker technology with meal delivery convenience for quick healthy meals

Potential Brands to Partner With:

Note: If you have more than one demographic set (my pillow company would be great for parents of small children too!) do this exercise for all of them.

These are just a few that I have brainstormed and that are not surface level or obvious (pajama companies, essential oils for bedtime, bathroom products, sheet companies, etc are all low hanging fruit here and still have some value!).

You can start to see here that it opens the floor to things that are well within your customers values and interests, and bring some creativity to the partnership. Choose partnerships that also are in line with your brand, and reflect back on who you are and your culture. (If my pillow company were against promoting the culture of “hustling” to the point of burnout, I likely would not partner with companies that promote that mentality.)

So, next time you think you have exhausted your creativity on coming up with new potential partners for blog posts, giveaways, product development, etc, give this customer values exercise a try.

And be on the lookout for the booming pillow subscription company to come.

Need some help with your content marketing? Head to Emily’s profile to learn more about her and connect!