In the business world, we spend a lot of time thinking about competitors, researching their keyword rankings and marketing strategies to try and figure out how to beat them. But in the age of content marketing, it’s at least as important to think about the brands you can work with as those you’re competing against.
In a recent survey about the top challenges facing content marketers, several answers boiled down to the same underlying issues: creating content takes a lot of time and resources.
Content marketing is competitive. Doing it well requires both quality and quantity, and businesses are struggling to keep up with the work involved. Content collaborations are a resourceful way to solve some of your marketing problems and get better results in the process.
3 Reasons to Collaborate with Other Brands on Content
If handled well, content collaborations produce several tangible benefits that make them well worth adding to your marketing mix.
1) Working with a content partner brings a new perspective.
Adding new minds to the mix brings fresh ideas. Chris Penn, Co-founder and Chief Data Scientist at Trust Insights has worked with other brands on a number of content projects. As he says, “a lot of the time, when you’re working on your own stuff, you can get kind of caught in your own little fishbowl.”
“Collaboration can expose you to new data sources, new ideas, and new challenges that you wouldn’t think to try and solve for yourself,” he explains. Sometimes your team needs exposure to something new to inspire a burst of creativity and bring you outside of your bubble.
2) You’ll reach a new audience.
This is one of the most compelling benefits of content collaborations. The business you work with won’t just help with content creation, they’ll have just as much stake in promoting the content as you do. They’ll share it with the audience they’ve worked to build, and you’ll share it with yours. Even before you factor in any paid promotion you might do, simply having a partner in promotion means an automatic extension in your content’s reach.
3) You can tackle a content project you couldn’t do alone.
Working with another brand doesn’t just mean you automatically increase your promotional reach; you also immediately increase the amount of available resources. A content idea that requires more work, time, or money than you can manage on your own may be within reach if you add a collaborator.
Partnering with software company Talkwalker on a content project, Trust Insights gained access to a social media analytics tool that provided data that answered questions valuable to their audience. Namely, which social media platforms are gaining and lagging in popularity. Any content partner you work with will bring their own resources to the table. When combined with yours, your options grow.
How to Have Successful Content Collaborations
Adding more people to a project definitely has its perks, but it also brings complications. When more stakeholders are involved, it increases the risk of things going awry, if you don’t manage everything well from the outset.
1) Choose the right partner.
The first step is finding the company to collaborate with. Consider first if there’s a business you already have a relationship with that’s a good fit. If so, you can skip the steps involved in researching options and establishing that early connection.
If not, start searching. Use social media and SEO tools to identify companies covering topics similar to those you want your content to address. When deciding who to contact about a possible collaboration, consider what you can bring to the table they don’t already have. Sometimes your best options won’t be those claiming the top spots for a term now—they’re already doing well—but those lower on the page. If working with you on a project can help them overtake the brands they’ve struggled to compete with on their own, your proposal to work together will have a clear benefit.
2) Work together to clearly define roles and responsibilities.
For a content collaboration to be successful, you must take time to clarify what both parties’ involvement will be from the outset. Make sure you know what your goals for the project are. What do you want it to achieve, and how will you measure success? That will help shape the rest of your planning.
When determining specific responsibilities, consider the different skills you each bring to the table. For example, Trust Insights specializes in data science. So usually when they team up with another company, they take on the data analysis, and their partner does more of the storytelling side of things.
Make sure you’re thinking through the whole project at this stage: the planning, content creation, and content promotion. Get as specific as possible in laying out the different roles, responsibilities, and steps, so everyone goes into the project on the same page.
3) Create a master service agreement (MSA).
To make sure you cover all your bases legally, create an MSA that reflects the specifics you’ve discussed. In addition to laying out each company’s responsibilities, it can also address concerns like:
- Intellectual property – Who owns the rights to the content you create together?
- Licensing agreements – If you use something like a stock photo subscription service, whose will it be?
- Payment terms – If either company is paying the other as part of the agreement, how much are they paying and what can they expect to receive in return?
Hopefully, your project will go smoothly. But in case anything does go sideways, you want to make sure you’re protected.
4) Stay in regular contact throughout the process.
Figure out what form of contact makes the most sense for both your teams—whether that’s regular meetings, a Slack channel, or updates in a project management system. The channel matters less than staying in contact throughout the project to touch base on progress. You want to know right away if the timeline needs to change, or you need to rethink how to approach some part of the process.
5) Invest in (and split) promotion.
None of the work you do to create great content together will pay off unless you both commit to promoting it as well. That definitely means sharing it with the audiences you already have through the obvious means: your email lists, social media channels, and websites.
But if you’ve put a lot of resources into creating a piece of content you believe is truly useful to your audience, go further. Consider paid promotion and a PR push. Pitch guest posts that promote your piece, or contact podcast hosts in your industry to see about coming on as a featured guest.
As with the rest of the project, work together to figure out how to split the work and cost of promotion in a way that makes sense for both of you. With two companies pitching in, your efforts will go further, faster.
Content Collaborations Mean Working Smarter
Content marketing is hard enough, and there aren’t any real shortcuts. To get results you have to do the work. But when you partner with other brands, you split the work. That makes things easier on your team, without sacrificing the results you’ll get out of the deal. It’s a smarter way to accomplish more with your content efforts.