Co-marketing enables brands to work together on a campaign, usually a written piece of content, to work toward mutually beneficial goals. During a co-marketing campaign, multiple companies or influencers collaborate and co-promote a product or piece of content and share in the benefits.
Most partners who engage in a co-marketing project do so because they are getting more value out of working with someone else than they would if they worked on it by themselves. At HubSpot, we work with co-marketing partners for three main reasons:
- To get additional expertise on a topic we may not know as much about.
- To reach a new audience.
- To capitalize on the manpower of another full team, meaning the work per person will be decreased, while the promotional power is doubled.
HubSpot takes part in three to five co-marketing campaigns a month. In the first half of 2014, we created more than 20 co-marketing projects with 15 partners.
With that being said, here is my recipe for co-marketing campaigns. From goal-setting to identifying the right partners, these beginner steps will get you started.
Step 1: Find the Right Partners
The companies or influencers you partner with should be complementary to your business, and offer value to your audience. The campaign you collaborate on should benefit both parties. When we sit down to create a list of partners we want to work with, we think about companies and people who would add value by helping us create content that our audience would be enticed to download.
We recently partnered in a co-marketing campaign with iAcquire on “The Intersection of SEO and Social Media” because our audience is very interested in this topic, and our current skill set was not in this area. We capitalized on iAcquire’s knowledge of search and social media, Google Authorship and social metadata to create content that works for both of our audiences.
When looking for partners, keep in mind that they will need to get value out of the relationship as well. It would be awesome to work with “X” because of their reach, but would “X” get value out of working with your company?
Step 2: Determine Project Goals
Now that you have your list of potential partners, you need to start executing your plan. The most successful ways to begin relationships is through connecting on social media networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, meeting someone at an event, or having a mutual contact make an introduction. In each one of these scenarios, building a relationship with the person is critical. It is highly unlikely that someone will say yes to a co-marketing campaign immediately, without knowing anything about you or the value in working on a project together.
Once you and your co-marketing partner have agreed to work on something, now you can get started! One of the first things to do is confirm the goals of each partner. If goals don’t align, problems will arise later, which can leave both partners unhappy. If goals aren’t in alignment, it might be best to move on to another potential partner.
Goals could include:
- Lead generation
- Website visitors
- eBook downloads
- Sales of products and services
If your goals are aligned, the next step is to brainstorm projects to work on together that will be mutually beneficial. Set up a brainstorm call to discuss topics and content types. Prepare for that meeting with ideas that would make most sense for your audience. You don’t want to show up empty-handed.
Step 3: Set Clear Expectations for Your Project
Set clear expectations around timelines and responsibilities for each part of the campaign. Some questions to cover during the planning phase of your campaign:
- What type of content are you producing?
- Who is creating the final outline?
- Who is writing the draft of the content?
- Who is copyediting?
- Which partner is responsible for designing the content?
- Who is hosting the download page for the final project?
- How are you promoting the content?
- How are you divvying up that promotion?
- What happens if someone misses a deadline?
- How will you be communicating during the project? Weekly? Monthly?
Splitting up the content creation process based on the partners’ strengths helps move things along and creates a high-quality piece of content. For example, if your team has an amazing design team, and your partner is better at copywriting, why not let your partner create the first draft, and your team can take the copy and design an eBook around it? By playing to your strengths, the relationship is likely to run smoothly, and bring value to both parties.
Plan well in advance. Your team may be agile and able to create a webinar campaign from start to finish in three weeks, but adding in another company can increase the timeline. You need to be understanding of their schedule as well as your own. Giving yourself more time to complete a project will help you avoid rushing in the end, or an uncomfortable situation if deadlines are missed.
Have a timeline and goals written out. Talking through your plan is great, but having everything written on paper allows you to go back later and point to something in the case that a problem arises. It also ensures everyone is on the same page when it comes to what is agreed upon. Not sure what your goals should be? Download HubSpot’s template on determining your marketing goals.
Consider other types of partnerships. You can create a piece of content, such as an eBook or blog post. You could partner on an event, either an online event such as a webinar, or a larger, in-person event. If you aren’t sure what your content strategy should be, get some helpful tips from iAcquire’s “Content Strategy for Digital Marketer” eBook.
Co-marketing projects can take more time than a normal project, simply because of the additional communication needed. Start with just one campaign, and see how it goes. If it is successful, starting scaling up your efforts.
Have you run a successful co-marketing campaign? What challenges did you face? Was it worth the effort?