Last month, I wrote about how you can get started in content marketing. Getting off the ground is great, but we all like to accelerate our progress, and one of the fastest ways to do this is to partner with third parties on content projects.
Today’s post will explore the benefits of such partnerships and discuss how you can go about putting them together.
The two most important benefits of partnerships are simple:
Of course, many times there is the benefit of dividing up the work as well. However, if you are less well-known than the party you are partnering with, you may not end up splitting the work equally. In fact, there are three different types of partnership scenarios:
If the visibility gap between you and the company you are partnering with is large enough, you may end up doing all the work, and that’s OK. The exposure to their audience, and the visibility that brings you, is often worth it.
If you are the party with the greater reputation and visibility, a partner may give you the bandwidth to do some great things that your team would not be able to do without the partner’s help.
At Stone Temple Consulting, we have used partnerships on many occasions. My own personal visibility got a big boost after I responded to a Rand Fishkin post that called for someone to do an analytics study.
This was a simple partnership. I did the work, and Rand helped promote it. But, it was very worthwhile. Not only did I get the direct promotional benefits, but I built credibility with Rand and the Moz community in the process. This ultimately helped lead to my involvement in co-authoring The Art of SEO.
The benefits sound great, but they don’t come for free. No one is going to be interested in partnering with you unless you are contributing real value, such as:
You may not be able to satisfy all of these parts, but you will need to have some of them to be someone worth partnering with.
If you are the less well-known partner, a simple willingness to do the work is probably not enough by itself. You will likely need to be able to offer more than that to the potential partnership. However, if you have a great idea and a willingness to do the work, that could be enough.
Warning: I am a creature of the digital marketing industry, where most participants are highly ethical, and they won’t simply steal your idea and run with it. If your industry has a substantially different feel to it, you may want to have the concept really well built out and nearly ready to publish before approaching someone to help promote it.
The bottom line is this: Get clear on what value you are going to bring to the table before you start trying to line up a partner.
Finding good partners is a critical step in the process as well. Don’t simply reach out to people or businesses that have large social followings and big reputations. You should look for evidence to convince you that they will make a good partner:
In addition, it’s very useful if you have already established some sort of relationship in advance of asking for a partnership. This could be as simple as interacting with the potential partner on social media. For example, this may come in the form of retweeting/resharing and commenting on their social media or content marketing efforts. Of course, the more ways that relationship has been established, the better.
This process of establishing a relationship in advance really helps grease the wheels. It’s not necessarily an absolute requirement, but it’s highly desirable.
One of the most important goals of any content marketing campaign is to continuously build your own audience. Working in cooperative partnerships with others is an excellent way to do that. Even if you already have a good-sized audience, growing that audience and keeping it engaged can be activities with high ROI.
One last key point: Once you get started on a content marketing project, make sure you do everything you committed to. You don’t want to turn the outcome into a negative. For that reason, be careful not to over-commit.
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