How Leveraging Strategic Partnerships Can Up Your Content Marketing Game

by Elaine

Reduce marketing costs and increase impact? That’s not an oxymoron when you’re seeking methods to draw qualified traffic to your website.

What’s the catch? Well, it all comes down to being open to new, creative thinking about partnerships. If you’re unsure where to find a like-minded customer base, think outside the box and consider a related field that can help sell your services to a new audience.

If you believe that “two are better than one,” review additional criteria here that makes for a great business partner.

Finding Value

Partner relationships can make all the difference, explains Jeremy Biron, founder of Forecast.ly, a company focused on inventory management for Amazon sellers.

In a recent Audience Ops podcast episode that touched on a range of value-add ideas for growing your business, Biron recalled how he finally asked himself why he wasn’t seeking out the right partner relationships.

“If we don’t compete, why don’t we work together?”

That’s the question he asked himself, a mindset that can positively impact your company’s bottom line, too.

“A lot of people have found us just because of our partners, and it helps to build brand recognition. It’s one little notch up. It’s like a recommendation or a referral from a customer,” he explains.

Partners and personalization are at the core of Forecast.ly’s marketing. “When I say partners, I mean other software tools or other companies that are in our industry with the same target market and we share overlap,” he adds.

Now consider what your company offers and what is potentially missing. What works best? How do you find value with your partners?

Promote Shared Traffic

Whether promoting your partner’s product via guest blogs, social posts, videos, or sharing samples with customers, a partnership can easily promote shared traffic.

The benefits include positive long-term relationships, trading ideas, pooling resources, saving on marketing costs, and sharing audiences of qualified potential customers. This new relationship also builds your authority on webinars and at trade shows, and it establishes you as an industry expert to your new audience.

Lead generation is a common form of co-marketing for two companies with similar audiences. When you agree to work together on a piece of content – and promote that content to both audiences – you’re getting twice the leads you normally would.

Last year, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports formed a partnership that made it the second-largest sports publisher (70 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore). Their agreement to collaborate on sports content means that SI articles may appear on Fox Sports digital properties, while Fox Sports videos might appear on SI.com.

Sure, your business might not be in the “millions of viewers” game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek out opportunities to find relevant partners at your level. After all, well-written, optimized content is the key to getting more qualified visitors to your website.

Partnership Promotion Ideas

Here are a few ideas you might explore when working with partners to cross-promote to each other’s audiences:

  • Share a Facebook audience. A lesser-known feature of Facebook Ads allows you to share your Facebook pixel with a partner, as long as you’ve agreed to do so. This means you can ask your business partner to add you to their Business Manager profile, which will grant you access to a specific pixel. This post outlines the process step-by-step — including what steps not to take.
  • Guest post on each other’s sites. Sharing blog content is a great way to get your brand name out there to a related audience and increase traffic to your own website. Biron has seen great success with this approach.
  • Lead magnets. But make sure you’re ready for the increased traffic after all that shared blog content! That’s because not everyone will have a pain point they need to be solved immediately, so consider lead magnets as a way to keep them aware and interested in your brand, even if they aren’t ready to sign up. Take the lead from Forecast.ly: Biron admits it took six months to get a lead magnet up on his site (thanks to a business partner pointing it out to him). “It was like having someone walk into my store and leading them immediately to the cashier – I learned to let them come in and look around for a while.”
  • Site personalization. Pay close attention to site personalization as a way to address the customer’s identity journey. You can set up your website to detect when a person was referred by a partner of yours, and display specific content and promotions aimed at that partner’s audience (i.e., “Hey _Partner_Brand__ fans! We’ve got a special guide just for you.”)

The 4 Agreements

Biron says he approaches partnerships with one goal: is this someone he’d want to go out and have a beer or coffee with socially?

This partner should boost morale and serve as a catalyst for growth. Do you feel comfortable sharing creative ideas? Do you share a similar outlook? As in any successful relationship, do you share a foundation of open communication?

He notes that being detailed and transparent at the beginning helped him get off on the right foot with his partners.

The challenge can be not just finding the right partners but also building out the systems. How do you promise and deliver on schedule without disappointing your partners?

Although it can seem cumbersome, creating a well-written document now can save you headaches later. You and your partner should agree on some basics, including:

  1. What is your goal? If it’s getting more leads, agree on a plan but also agree to be flexible as metrics dictate. Come up with a few agreed-upon topics, themes, or promotions that appeal to your shared audiences.
  2. What services will each partner do? Who is responsible for what? For example, will you develop a content marketing calendar for lead generation or production promotion? What is the frequency? What items or trademarks must be included or specifically excluded? Don’t assume your new partner can read your mind – get it all in writing to avoid disappointment.
  3. How long will the partnership agreement last? For example, monthly, quarterly, or project-based? Do you have an exit clause if you want to go your separate ways? Could you consider a trial period to test the waters?
  4. Who earns what? Spell out the financial terms in this partnership and all issues around billing and revenue structure. How are payments being made? Who is collecting the transactional revenue? What currency is being used to make payments? Will payments be collected monthly or quarterly?

Wrapping Up

Strategic content partnerships with another brand, or brands, can be a time-consuming endeavor. It means investing your time to develop ongoing relationships to ensure your content moves forward to a targeted, relevant audience.

But finding the right partnerships – and learning how to outsource parts of your business – can save on marketing costs and ultimately give you more time to focus on other critical tasks at hand.

Review the eight factors that will lead you a partner who can deliver a quality solution to clients that goes along with this article!