Content Partners are Kingmakers
I always encourage marketers to make a content marketing strategy, and to create an editorial plan for their content in the way that publishers do. “But where does all this content come from? I don’t have the time. I’ve got my regular job to do, never mind writing blogs and making videos!” Yes, it does all take time and effort, not to mention industry knowledge and creativity. But not necessarily yours…
It is a great starting point to make sure you are making the most of any internal resources you may have. Your employees will (hopefully!) have a vast amount of knowledge of your industry. Ask them to suggest ideas for what they would consider interesting and relevant content. Sometimes the people coming up with the suggestions are the best people to create the content on that particular subject.
Do your colleagues or employees have any relevant hobbies? Before you know it you could find you have budding journalists, script writers, actors, editors, camera and sound technicians in your ranks. You may be surprised at how proud your colleagues feel to be asked to write an article, or make a “how to” video.
Many companies are beginning to use their internal resources as an integral part of their content marketing strategies. It engages both the internal and external audience. One of my local forward-thinking companies, Nixon McInnes, even let’s you know which team of colleagues is tweeting for them and it changes each week.
Of course, not all companies have that kind of internal people power. Just as publishers and media organisations have content partners, so can you.
The Power of Content Partnership
Using well-selected content partners is a really practical way of populating your newsletters, website articles, blogs and videos with interesting, varied and useful content, to keep your audience engaged. By choosing to either co-create, or simply commission content from external experts, you can position your company as a unique information provider. Each partner will bring their own angle to the chosen subject, which will keep your content fresh.
Take for example the award-winning investment management specialist, Hargreaves Landsdown. They provide free ‘Expert Guides’, and even produce information videos on “HLTV” with expert partners such as The Financial Times. This enables them to give seemingly unbiased and objective advice, and the payoff to them is that people believe in their services and do invest with them.
So, where do you start? Identify the non-competitor companies and organisations within your industry who have either the same audience profile as you, or an audience you wish to develop. Ask employees to tap into their own network of contacts to suggest possible partners and guest writers. They will often have relationships with relevant companies and organisations which will be invaluable.
Co-Promotion and Production
Building up a network of partners is immensely helpful, not only in terms of producing the content itself, but also in terms of reaching the widest possible audience.
The more engaging and unique your content and brand is, the more appealing you will be to potential partners. With that in mind, it is worth building up some great content before approaching your ideal collaborators!
YouTube has a wealth of content partners such as Howcast.com and understands how important it is to promote their content in order to remain such a powerful platform. Of course, YouTube is a little different from most companies, as they are all about being a content platform, whereas for most of us, creating new content is part of our content marketing strategy and is all about engaging our audiences with a view to a final payoff of some sort, be it subscribing to our newsletter, or buying a service or product.
Agree your Goals
It is worth setting some objectives for each collaboration and discussing what each party wants to get out of the arrangement. It may be that you decide to create some content together, such as filming a series of videos or writing a white paper. It could also be a much less intensive relationship, simply asking an individual to write an article for your company blog. In all cases there are always opportunities to cross promote using each other’s existing routes to market and where relevant also leveraging each other’s authority in the industry or on the given topic. Make sure you have the basic promotion tools covered, such as listing and linking your content partners and ensuring they reciprocate.
Check that your response mechanism is working perfectly when you have a big co-promotional push, as you don’t want any glitches when you are trying to impress new potential customers.
You will also need to make sure the quality of content is maintained by your partners, and reserve the right not to include content that you feel doesn’t work for you.
Clients may be happy to guest blog. Their presence in your content can prove very interesting to your target clients, whilst at the same time reinforcing brand authority for both your client and your company. It is useful to match your partner not only to the chosen topic, but also the intended purpose of each piece. Sometimes a client’s content can be extremely useful when trying to influence their competitors, and their suppliers. Their competitors often want a piece of the action, and suppliers want to seem aligned to their customers. When you have a particularly good piece of content, it can be used effectively as a stand alone marketing piece to a specific target client.
Equally, it is worth offering to guest blog or create other content for your partners so as to continue to build authority with their audience. Exchanging regular blogspots can work brilliantly for both companies.
Remember to measure the success of your partner content pieces and campaigns to see where you get the most new audience from and the ratio of new audience to final payoff.
So, ultimately as well as being the publisher, you are now also the editor. But at least you don’t have to create all the content yourself!