Gaenzle-Marketing
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Collaboration in Marketing: Forming Partnerships to Grow Your Brand

gears working together

A while back, I wrote an article for the Content Marketing Institute blog highlighting four key collaborative relationships that every marketer should build to succeed.

In the article, one of my points mentioned creating new allies. What I was referring to was the creation of mutually beneficial relationships with complementary companies, industry associations, influencers, bloggers, and others to increase your marketing’s reach and connect with your audience – and expand that audience.

I’d like to elaborate on that concept a bit by pointing out just how you can connect with a few of these critical allies. Here’s a bit of advice I hope you’ll take to heart.

Complementary companies

These companies offer products or services that enhance your offerings and vice versa. It’s in both of your best interests to promote one another, as increased business for one typically means the same for the other.

Start by looking at your software vendors, material suppliers, and customers. Then do some research and locate other companies with whom you aren’t currently working and where there’s a connection that could work in both your favor.

Locate their marketing lead and reach out to them. Make sure you’ve got some talking points about the type of collaboration you’d like to initiate, as well as some concrete insights into how both parties would benefit.

Once you’ve got your target complementary companies on board, try some of these ideas for collaborative marketing:

  • Case studies – If you’ve seen success working together, brag about it. Create case studies highlighting the amazing work you’ve done for clients and the results you generated.
  • White papers – Combine your knowledge to present a well-crafted, informative paper that presents you both as experts.
  • Video testimonials – Create high-quality, short videos with each side preaching how wonderful the other is and how each benefits from working with the other.
  • Webinars – Presenters from each company, along with a neutral moderator, speak as experts on a topic of interest.
  • Social media – Set up a system where each side shares the other’s social media posts to increase their reach.

Here’s a great example of a collaborative webinar between two healthcare tech companies, Kangaroo Health and SE Healthcare.

The two companies found a sweet spot where their products and services overlapped and created a presentation that spoke about the value of utilizing these services to battle physician burnout, which is a huge problem in the healthcare space right now.

The beauty of it all is that you now have the ability to reach a whole new audience as the organizers of the webinar above were able to do.

If orchestrated properly, the goal is for both sides to then take the new marketing content and share it with their own audiences. This effectively amplifies the reach of the content, increases brand awareness and ideally leads to increased business. This could be done via email, social media, your website, advertising, or a number of other marketing tactics.

Working with complementary companies is great for so many reasons, but creating amazing, collaborative content that can be promoted to multiple target audiences is one of the top ones.

Industry associations

Now that you’ve got all that fancy, new marketing content in place from your collaborative efforts with complementary companies, it’s time to look for ways to enhance its potential even more. Connecting with authoritative industry associations is a really effective way to make this happen.

Some relationships with industry associations are pay-to-play, while others are more of a “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” situation. You’ll need to do a bit of both to uncover the full potential of this relationship type, but it’ll be worth it, just trust me on this one.

Try these actions to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the associations that represent the voice of your industry:

  • Offer to contribute by joining a committee.
  • Write articles for association blogs.
  • Buy space at the next event they produce.
  • Advertise on association websites.
  • Follow associations on social media and engage consistently.
  • Volunteer your expertise in areas you think you can be of help.
  • Ask how you can help promote their mission.
  • Become a paying member.

These are just a few suggestions, but anything you can do to strengthen this relationship will result in a positive impact on your business.

These associations exist to enhance the standing of the particular industry they represent, so if you’re willing to lend a hand, they’ll be happy to lend one back. The more your company and other companies in the industry succeed, the more success the associations will enjoy in turn.

Influencers

In addition to authoritative associations in your industry, you’ll want to seek out authoritative individuals. These people tend to fall under the moniker of “influencer.” They’ve amassed a large following of loyal followers who trust and live by the advice that they offer on their websites, at conferences, across social media, or on any other platform from which they can shout their message.

Being mentioned in a positive light by these folks can go a very long way in enhancing your company’s image. But don’t rush into these relationships thinking that just because you want to work with them they will want to work with you.

There’s a good chance they won’t even take the time to respond to your email, not because they don’t like you, but because they get so many. In order to make this relationship work, you need to take a caring, nurturing approach and be patient, as relationships with influencers are slow to build.

Take these steps to make it happen:

  • Email – Reach out to the influencer you’re targeting and simply let them know that you appreciate their work.
  • Social media – Start sharing the influencer’s content on your social media channels, and be sure to mention them in the posts, so they’re aware.
  • Articles – Regularly cite advice from them in articles on your blog.
  • Conferences – Find out where they’ll be speaking and stop by to introduce yourself, but don’t overstay your welcome. A short introduction and “thank you” will suffice.
  • Another email – Follow up to let them know you appreciated the conversation and remind them of who you are.
  • Rinse and repeat – Continue to follow these steps, not being too intrusive, until the influencer picks up on the fact that you’re of value to them.

The key to influencer relationships is proving that you add value to the influencer’s ability to promote their own agenda. If you can truly offer value, they’ll likely be happy to reciprocate.

Having an influencer promote your company or working with them on a collaborative project can really put you on the map. Just make sure you’re genuine in your intentions because this can backfire if you are not.

Suppose you annoy or offend an influencer, or they find out you have shady, selfish intentions. In that case, the negative impact they can have on your company’s image can be equally as impactful as the positive impact you’ll experience if you play by the rules.

Bloggers

Bloggers are always on the lookout for new content. They’re looking to stay on top of the latest trends, and they’re looking for ways to promote their blogs.

Bloggers are some of the most collaborative people online, and you can build powerful relationships with bloggers to help them promote their goals and in turn, you’ll be able to leverage their audiences to grow your reach.

As with any relationship, you need to be sure you are genuinely looking to add value for the bloggers you reach out to as well. First, look for bloggers in your niche. If you are in the SaaS space, for example, find bloggers who write about technology.

Here are a few examples of blogs a SaaS marketer might target:

Obviously, you’ll want to target blogs in your space, so just conduct a quick Google search like “_____ industry blogs” or “_____ industry blogs write for us” and make a list of the ones you want to target.

Then reach out to the owners or editorial team and ask about how you might be able to work together. You could look at guest blogging, link building, social media collaboration or a number of other options. Just make sure you let them know the value you add for them and that you are there to help.

Wrapping it Up

Hopefully, these tips will get you excited about collaborative marketing. If properly orchestrated, positive things will surely follow. Don’t make the mistake of going it alone. Look around and figure out who can help you and how you can return the favor.

Make sure the relationships you forge make sense, are a fit for both parties and have the potential to produce a truly positive upside all around.

You need to add as much value (or more) for the people you build relationships with as they do for you, or this doesn’t work.

Get to know the people you build relationships with on a deeper level than just who they work for and how they can help you. If you really want to be successful, you need to forge REAL relationships that last.

4 Responses

  1. Wow, these tips are very insightful.

    Its obvious that forming partnerships to grow our brand is one of the best decisions we can make.

    Asking how you can help promote the mission of your target partner is a great way to show them your commitment.

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