3 unusual partnerships that inspire word of mouth

[Welcome back to our Word of Mouth Marketing Lessons newsletter. This is text from the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using this handy form.]

Something cool happens when you work together with another company: you share fans and word of mouth. But sometimes the most remarkable partnerships aren’t as obvious as you might think.

Here are three surprising combinations that get people talking:

1. Competitors
2. Potential trademark infringers
3. Formerly upset customers

1. Competitors

Niche groups are where regular fans become raving fans. They’re started when someone loves something enough to find other people who love it just as much — and that means a lot of passionate talkers. So General Mills decided not to let branding get in the way of that. Instead, they set aside their competition with brands like Kellogg to make some great content for their ideal niche group: cereal lovers. For example, the company shares recipes that combine Cheerios with Special-K or explains how to make fancy Rice Krispy treats. General Mills figures it can’t hurt to talk about some of their competitors’ stuff if it means cultivating a bigger audience of people who just love cereal.

2. Potential trademark infringers

This year, Pabst Blue Ribbon’s legal team noticed some products from surfer clothing company O’Neill were using designs that looked a little too close to their own PBR logo. But instead of taking legal action, the two brands (who have a similar customer demographic anyway) decided to co-brand some products together. It could have been a very “unchill” moment for PBR, but instead, ended up being a great word of mouth topic about them working together. It’s something very few companies take advantage of and something both PBR and O’Neill’s fans will talk about.

3. Formerly upset customers

When Paul Frank launched their new clothing line with misguided references to Native American culture, one blogger let them know she was offended and suggested some authentic Native American designers to work with instead. To her surprise, Paul Frank responded and asked for her help. That’s worth much more than a simple apology letter. This partnership helps a formerly marginalized group feel a real connection with the company — one that’s worth talking about and could earn them new fans.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Judy

    This has really hit hard here at Cross Keys Vending! I am really struggling with my small snack and drink business. My locations are usually 50-150 employees. I am using my personal, friendly and prompt services to promote because the larger vending companies have poor service. I know I generate more business in locations that have a 30 minute meal break. I need to think “outside the box” to generate more prime locations. Thanks.

Featured Downloads

Download: “The Difference Map” by Bernadette Jiwa

We’re big fans of author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and TEDx speaker Bernadette Jiwa, who says that good marketing…

Read More

The first chapter of “The Social Media Side Door” by Ian Greenleigh

Ian reveals the best ways to earn the attention of influential people using social media channels.

Read More

9 Things to Share That Start Conversations

Use the examples in this guide to help inspire ways to make your message more portable and shareable.

Read More

3 Must-Use Word of Mouth Marketing Tools

These tools will help you kick off any word of mouth campaign no matter what topic, industry, or budget.

Read More

The Top Four Tips for Multiplying Your Word of Mouth

These tips can help you get your marketing to do more work without a lot of extra effort.

Read More

10 Ways to Turn Around Negative Word of Mouth

The most effective ways to stop negative WOM with examples from Zappos, FedEx, Dell, and more.

Read More
Get our free weekly newsletter

Join 35,000 brilliant word of mouth marketers by signing up for our free weekly email newsletter filled with actionable word of mouth ideas.

You’ll be blown away by just how good you can be at this.

Never display this again