SIGMA Marketing: How to B2B Prospect for the Best Affinity Partners

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SIGMA Marketing shows marketers how to find the most profitable affinity marketing partners.

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“As businesses look for new affinity partnerships, they should consider a few issues to insure a smooth and effective lead generation process,” Jim Dellavilla, EVP of SIGMA Marketing Group

SIGMA Marketing Group, the customer intelligence-driven, direct and digital marketing services firm, explains how marketers can find the most profitable affinity marketing partners.

Marketing by collaborating with member organizations is a proven and successful marketing channel. Member organizations can deliver profitable customers and co-branded communications can boost response rates. Member groups provide a great diversity of consumers – some are a rich source of new customers, while others provide minimal return. SIGMA explains how to tell the difference.

“As businesses look for new affinity partnerships, they should consider a few issues to insure a smooth and effective lead generation process,” said Jim Dellavilla, EVP of SIGMA Marketing Group. “First, there is no single master list of potential affinity partners. Once you have discovered the right organization to solicit, you then need to find the right people or contacts within the organization, just like any other B2B marketer. Here’s the five step process we use to guide affinity marketers in discovering the right person in the right member organizations that fit their marketing objectives.”

1. Establish affinity target criteria
These considerations can help to both identify good marketing targets as well as establish the decisive test criteria to assess a candidate’s partnership value. The success criteria we have established include:

  • Size of the member organization
  • Affinity strength or relationship with its members
  • Exclusiveness of the agreement (can you be the only provider of your service?)
  • Similarity of the typical affinity member to the profile of your best customers
  • Geographic footprint match between your organizations

2. List/segment possible affinity organizations
Breaking potential partners into segments is critical because the sales cycle and type of partnership often differ by type of organization. The segmentation is critical to help focus sales efforts and to group organizations with similar member relationships. Segments or groupings can include:

  • General clubs and associations
  • Credit unions
  • Professional organizations
  • National associations
  • Sports clubs and organizations
  • Unions
  • Large employee group organizations
  • Fraternities and alumni organizations
  • Associations and financial institutions

SIGMA then finds specialized list vendors to augment the large national business listing to use as the backbone for prospect list identification.

3. Define your primary market for affinity partner prospects
Develop a simple scoring scheme to assess each of the organizations in the prospect universe, placing the organizations into one of four tiers or levels, from A – highly desirable to D – very little interest, with scale points in between. Understand what member benefits organizations are offering to their members – information that is often available on the websites of a sampling of organizations in each category. Pay particular attention to services that are competitive or compatible to the products you are trying to sell. This step will define the prospect universe and segment prospects by their relative value to your sales effort.

4. Obtain contact information on decision makers
Many sources help identify likely decision makers. It is important to identify relevant business titles; it all starts with identifying which titles or words within a title are relevant for good contacts. It is more effective to contact a particular person, even if that person is not the right one, as they often will help locate the right person.

5. Identify the decision-maker
Conduct decision maker identification, which means calling prospects and asking if they are responsible for determining the services that are provided to the members. It may take a while to network to the right people who can influence a service partner relationship. Create multiple entry points into the organization because the decision is normally a team effort.

Learn more about SIGMA Marketing’s Affinity Solutions at

About SIGMA Marketing Group
SIGMA Marketing helps clients like Citizen Bank, Xerox, Nationwide, and AAA engage with their customers through Analytics + Strategy + Technology. We turn data into customer intelligence and innovative marketing solutions -- online and offline -- with direct and digital solutions that focus on multichannel marketing strategies, data and technology integration, web analytics and sales enablement. SIGMA builds long term customer relationships and drives Marketing ROI. Visit us at and at our Fifth Gear Analytics blog:

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Jim McNulty
StandPoint Public Relations
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