Even if you haven’t heard the specific term “co-marketing,” you’ve definitely seen it in action.
Co-marketing is just as it sounds: two companies joining forces to reach a bigger audience than either could manage on its own. These are partnerships based around mutual value; both companies contribute to a marketing message, cross-promote that message on their channels, and together, reap the benefits of shared promotion.
A Primer on Co-Marketing
In essence, co-marketing partnerships let one company tap into its partner’s existing market to reach more users, raise brand awareness, and drive more leads into the marketing funnel.
This is usually done through pieces of marketing content specifically created to cater to both companies’ audiences: blogs, whitepapers, webinars, and so on.
Ideally, these content assets will incorporate the expertise of both companies to create a high-value resource that goes beyond what either company could do on its own. And when this content is ready, both companies will promote and distribute the content through their email lists and social media campaigns to guarantee that the content reaches the maximum number of viewers.
This is an effective strategy for any type of digital marketing, but it can be particularly helpful for inbound marketing, where long-term success relies on a company’s ability to provide high-value content resources.
Co-Marketing for Inbound: Teaming Up Is Better
The heart of co-marketing for inbound is content creation. Customers need to believe that companies know what they’re talking about, and co-marketing can provide some interesting benefits for this goal.
The most obvious is social proof. For example, if a smaller SEO company teams up with a larger digital marketing agency with established brand recognition, that bigger brand’s equity rubs off on the lesser-known partner.
More critically, co-producing supports your content strategy by letting you tap into the knowledge and resources of another team. In our example, our digital marketing company might take a “jack-of-all-trades” approach to its services—meaning that its SEO experience is relatively limited.
But our smaller partner, the SEO provider, has a wealth of in-depth experience in this field. It’s all they do, and their knowledge outstrips their larger counterpart. Thus, the bigger company can leverage the smaller partner’s expertise to create in-depth resources that it couldn’t on its own, and the smaller company receives the same—alongside access to the larger company’s market.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
How to Co-Produce Content
Co-producing content isn’t that much more difficult than producing content in-house. There are just a few extra steps involved.
First, companies should work with their partners to come up with production strategies. It’s usually more expensive to co-produce content than to create in-house materials, as you’ll be devoting more time to communication and revisions that suit both parties. Start the planning process early so you both know how to allocate your resources.
Then, decide what you want your content campaign to look like. Come up with consistent topics, themes, and ideas that are well-suited to both of your markets. (Far easier to manage if you’ve chosen your co-marketing partner well!)
Typically, co-marketing materials work best when they can show off the expertise of one (or both) brands. Good examples include guest blogs, interviews with company executives, Q&As, podcasts, live seminars, and any other format that offers an “insider” perspective.
Both teams should work to produce the content, although if one team has better writers than the other, it might make more sense to let them do the heavy lifting. You should work these details out in your initial planning and make sure both parties approve every piece before publishing.
And from a design perspective, make sure every piece of co-sponsored content is appropriately branded: company names, logos, relevant images, and so on. Make it clear who was involved and what aspects they’re contributing to the discussion.
Co-Produced Content Promotion
After you’ve created some content, you can return to the “marketing” side of the co-marketing equation.
Promote the heck out of any high-value content on your email blasts, social media posts, and site layout. Both partners should do this through their own channels. This is the best way to reach more eyes and draw more leads into your funnels. And while you’re at it, make sure to coordinate your marketing outreach for each piece of content.
For example, you might want to come up with new, specific hashtags for a series of guest posts that both you and your partner can use on Twitter.
Build this visibility into each aspect of your promotion, including your images. It’s super easy to create new blog images, headers, or promotional banners with both your and your partner’s logo placed front and center. This provides an easy visual anchor for your social media pages and content libraries that instantly show readers which pieces of content are collaborative.
Explore Co-Marketing Opportunities
Co-marketing is all about creating partnerships of mutual value. The more people you can reach, the better off you’ll be. As such, it’s to your benefit to co-market with as many partners as your resources allow.
Don’t quit after your first partnership; look for possible partners across different niches and consider whether you would benefit from access to their markets. It can be great to build ongoing relationships with the same partners, but a key goal of the process is to reach as many new eyes as possible. Aside from the cost of production, there’s little downside to contacting numerous companies about co-marketing opportunities. Plus, you might end up making valuable industry connections that could pay off in other ways later.
Co-Marketing for Inbound Success
At its core, co-marketing represents more value for less work. You’re making a simple bridge between your and your partner’s markets that can drive serious results for both. Of course, you’ll want to assess the quality of your new leads by tracking lead-to-customer conversions and other key metrics, but we’re willing to bet that the new leads (and brand exposure) brought in from the practice will make you a co-marketing convert.