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Joint Marketing Agreements: What You Need to Know

Team going over a joint marketing agreement

Marketing products and services is an essential part of running a successful business. A major struggle of modern marketing is growing your audience and reaching new customers. Many marketers look for opportunities to put themselves in front of well-defined audiences to simplify that process, which is where joint marketing agreements come in.

A joint marketing agreement allows companies to collaborate on their marketing with clear rules and guidelines. Managing these contracts effectively can significantly affect how well they protect your company during the marketing relationship. Below, you’ll learn how joint marketing agreements work, how to write them, and the best way to manage them.

What is a joint marketing agreement?

A joint marketing agreement is a contract between two or more parties in which at least one party agrees to collaborate on promoting the other’s offerings. Joint marketing agreements are sometimes called co-marketing agreements or co-branding agreements. These contracts allow organizations to work together and access each other’s audiences without risking their intellectual property (IP).

The purpose of joint marketing agreements

If two businesses target similar customers in ways that don’t compete, they can potentially increase their reach by working together to cobrand items or run joint advertising campaigns. A mutual marketing agreement outlines the terms of these agreements. It also protects both companies from risks, like the loss of intellectual property or liability for each other’s actions. 

The purpose of a joint marketing agreement is to clearly define what both companies are expected to do during the cobranding relationship. The contract should:

  • Explain where logos and materials are to be used
  • Declare whether either company is receiving royalties or payment
  • Describe marketing strategies
  • Specify licensing details
  • Clarify protections for all parties

Examples of joint marketing agreements

These contracts are more common than you might think. Whenever you see two companies working together on the same product or campaign, they likely have a joint marketing agreement guiding their actions. Cobranding and co-marketing can include everything from simply displaying the other company’s logo on products to sponsoring events together.

If you use desktop PCs, you’ve seen one of the most pervasive technological cobranding agreements in action. Intel has joint marketing agreements with many computer manufacturers to add the “Intel Inside” logo to their machines. This has helped Intel build itself into a household name despite most end-users rarely interacting directly with their computer chips. Meanwhile, since users trust the Intel brand, computer manufacturers reap the benefits of that name recognition when they put stickers on their machines.

Another, more obviously reciprocal joint marketing agreement exists between Uber and Spotify. Both companies regularly advertise for the other on their apps and websites. They even offer special promotions, with Spotify occasionally promoting Uber-branded playlists and Uber suggesting riders open the Spotify app to play a soundtrack for their trip. The result is improved brand recognition for both companies with a minimum of effort and no loss of market share. 

When do I need a joint marketing agreement

Joint marketing agreements are rarely mandatory, but they are often helpful. There’s no obligation for your company to work with another to market each other’s offerings. And a joint marketing agreement is absolutely essential if you want to work with another business to build your audience.

You need one of these contracts to clarify precisely how and where your intellectual property will be used. The agreement ensures that your logo is only displayed in places to which you agree. For instance, you can use these agreements to prevent your logo from being placed on products that don’t align with your mission, protecting your brand image. The contract should also clearly explain that all IP remains the sole possession of the business which initially owned it to prevent IP disputes.

Parts of a joint marketing agreement

Every co-marketing contract will be unique to the specific companies and campaigns involved in that agreement. Still, there are components that all of these contracts should share, such as:

  • Branding specifications: A clause that clearly defines how each brand’s materials can be used and how they should be presented.
  • Marketing strategies: A thorough outline of how both parties will approach the marketing process, including the campaigns’ goals and the tactics they intend to use.
  • Licensing: Explanations of what specific IP both parties are permitted to use, the context they’re permitted in, and limits regarding the ownership of each party’s assets.
  • Payments and royalties: If either party pays the other to use their branding, this section explains how much will be paid and when.
  • Warranties: Guarantees made by both parties to each other, as well as the limits of those guarantees.
  • Term and termination: The length of the contract, how parties can extend or end the contract early, and consequences of ending it early.
  • Confidentiality: Certain cobranding agreements are intended to remain secret until the materials are released to the public. Confidentiality clauses specify if and when this is the case, along with penalties for breaking it.
  • Indemnification and disclaimers: Explanation of how both parties’ liability will be shared or retained and statements about what parties will not expect each other to accomplish.

Limitations of a joint marketing agreement

These contracts aren’t a silver bullet. A joint marketing campaign has a few significant limitations that you should keep in mind before entering into one on behalf of your organization:

  • Limited control over your IP. While a cobranding agreement explains how your IP should be used, once you’ve signed the contract, you in some ways release control over that material. Your partner company may create materials that you don’t appreciate without violating the terms of the agreement.
  • Potential negative reflections on your brand. If you’re in a joint marketing agreement with a company that experiences a scandal, the negative public reaction could reflect on your brand in ways a contract cannot prevent.
  • Risk of diluted messaging. Unless a co-marketing contract includes a carefully structured marketing plan, you and your partner may accidentally dilute your message by trying to cobrand.

These issues can be mitigated by negotiating a comprehensive agreement in advance.

Managing joint marketing agreements

The benefits of joint marketing agreements are most apparent when you follow them carefully. However, managing these contracts can be a time-consuming process. Developing a thorough and enforceable co-marketing agreement requires the ability to negotiate quickly with your partner company. Accomplishing that with traditional redlining processes can take months.

Furthermore, to comply with the contract once it’s written, your marketing department needs to frequently reference it. Many businesses find this difficult, since their contracts are stored in completely different systems than their marketing materials and IP. If these systems don’t communicate, the marketing department may accidentally violate the terms of the contract over a simple lack of transparency. To avoid this, marketers need to constantly reach out to the Legal team to reference specific elements of the agreement, wasting everyone’s time. 

Why use digital contract management for joint marketing agreements?

The solution is to implement a genuine contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution. A CLM allows you to automate the workflows behind your joint marketing agreements and simplify the process from start to finish. 

With a CLM like Ironclad, you gain access to a single source of truth for every contract. All of your agreements are stored in a central digital location, where everyone can clearly see what’s going on. Your marketers can quickly reference the contract in the Ironclad Data Repository without reaching out to the Legal team. As a result, it’s easier to manage your compliance with the agreement. This transparency also makes it easy to monitor the status of in-progress contracts and ensure that they remain on track. 

Ironclad also lets you implement templatable workflows in your cobranding contracts. Templatable workflows allow you to create a single template for these contracts and build a single workflow that will be followed for every future joint marketing agreement. Your Legal team can rely on these workflows to process upcoming deals with very little confusion. 

You can even use Ironclad to perform negotiations and redlining in real time. With Ironclad’s digital collaboration and negotiation features, you and your partner business can work together to develop a comprehensive agreement that satisfies everyone. The cloud-based collaboration process facilitates smoother negotiation.  You won’t have to ship paper documents back and forth, and you won’t have to wait for the other party to receive and review information. With Ironclad, it’s easier to manage every part of the joint marketing agreement process.

Joint marketing agreements are a valuable tool for quickly building your company’s audience. Creating a thorough cobranding contract is essential to ensure you get the benefits of sharing your audience without risking your company’s IP or taking on unnecessary liability. Ironclad’s digital contract management solution can help you develop better contracts in less time. Schedule your demo to experience how Ironclad can streamline your contract management process today. 


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