Remember joining a club, team or activity because all the hot girls/boys would linger around those areas, and you knew by associating with those groups, you'd be more likely to get a kiss on a Friday night by some beautiful/handsome head spinner? Well, that's affinity marketing.
Affinity marketing is the act of formulating message-based affiliations between non-competitive organizations in the interest of getting target markets to know, like and trust a brand.
For example, perfume companies affiliate with singers so the singer sells more tickets/CDs with ads paid for by the perfume companies who are just happy scores of teens will now buy their scent because Britney Cheers held it for 20 seconds on during the commercial break for Blossom.
Anchorman's Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) affiliated with Dodge Durango for an increase in Durango sales of 59% in one month alone. Credit card companies latch on to athletes like stupid people to gossip, and no marketing campaign for credit cards would be complete without a tie to National Football.
Speaking of football, the Seattle Seahawks Football team and the the Seattle Sounders Soccer team used affinity marketing to drive exposure for their respective teams to each other's fan group, thereby perpetuating greater exposure, brand/team loyalty and most importantly, greater ticket sales.
However, this past March, the Sounders officially announced they were ceasing this affinity marketing relationship with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Sounders realized a very important lesson of affinity marketing, and that is: Work with your competitor until you can eat, then starve him so you can eat more.
How Do I Choose Organizations for Affinity Marketing?
Finding other organizations to share an affinity marketing opportunity with takes a little creative thought, but here is my best suggestion:
Target organizations that share the same target market as you, yet, with no product similarity whatsoever.
The Seahawk/Sounder relationship didn't last because, at the end of the day, they're in competition with one another. 'Jimmy' the local Seattle, Washington sports fan has $40 to spend on a game, so he must make a choice between football or soccer. However, Mike who loves Will Ferrell movies as much as he loves being a beer-drinking truck driving American can't help but notice the viral Ron Burgundy ads, and can't help but want to test drive a 2013 Dodge Durango with a tan interior and wheels that could crush an Amish dresser.
Dodge Durango and Ron Burgundy "Ballroom Dancers"
At the end of the day, affinity marketing helps to drive the attention of your target market to your brand by allowing an affiliate to make that introduction. And no, affinity marketing is not affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing relies on direct referrals, not simply loose associations in advertising/messages to gain cerebral penetration of your target marketing.
Good luck to you in linking up with other groups to increase sales with some well planned affinity marketing.
Don't compete — DOMINATE.
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