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Let’s Be Friends: Developing a Partner Content Marketing Program

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: your content doesn’t all have to come from you.

Gasp.

Did I just rock your world? We see a lot of clients who want to get on board with a content plan but think there’s no way they can dedicate enough resources to consistently produce great content. So they just…don’t. Which is silly, when there are so many great companies and people out there pumping out valuable content that aligns with your brand goals.

You need to go make friends with them. We call that a partner content program. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership where you agree on some sort of exchange that gets you some great content from reputable sources and gives them additional exposure—and vice versa. Because really, you can create some really cool relationships.

But you have to be smart about it. And it does require actual effort to maintain the partnership and realize the value from it. So don’t be all, “Yeah, this is cool, thanks for being a partner,” and then not do anything with the arrangement.

Let me help you out with some good tips:

Find partners that make sense. Picking the right partners is pretty much the most important thing. There are a lot of things to consider:

  • Find partners that will expose your company to a new audience and a new universe. This is an opportunity to pick up new customers and spread brand awareness in new territory.
  • They should be able to provide value to your customers. If your partner has offerings that don’t apply to your usual base, you’re only going to bore your customers and dilute your brand.
  • Make sure they’re in alignment with your content goals and that you agree on a content direction. “Content marketing” is pretty vague as terms go, given the number of channels and options out there. Be sure your programs complement each other.
  • Don’t choose a partner whose tone and style is wildly different from yours. If they like to drop f-bombs when your audience is more conservative, that’s only going to alienate audiences.
  • Determine if a product or service exchange is in order. Sometimes that can lead to even bigger opportunities.

Don’t go for ALL OF THE PARTNERS. I sense your excitement about this new possibility, but don’t go out and create partnerships with literally everybody. A higher number of partners doesn’t equal most exposure; after a certain point, it usually turns into scattershot content and mismatched goals. You can’t really manage a huge number of partnerships well and often the whole thing will backfire. Ten is usually a good cutoff.

Make it official. Informal arrangements are fine, but you (and they) will be much more likely to stick to the terms of the partnership if they are clearly defined and officially agreed upon by everyone. It’s a good way to define things like types of topics, level of promotion, and any possible product or service exchange. This goes back to one of the most basic rules in business – you have to CYA, my friends.

So there you have it – your content partner program can bring in new customers, enrich your content pipeline and cross-pollinate audiences. Go on and make some friends. Just be sure they’re the right kind.

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