Co-branding; it brings two great things together to create something even greater. For example, the powerhouses of chocolate and peanut butter came together to create the beauty that is the peanut butter cup.
Yes, peanut butter cups are amazing, but what does this concept have to do with your marketing plan?
You're doing pretty well on your own, so why bring in another cook to stir the metaphorical pot? You know your audience, and they know what they can expect from you.
No need to look elsewhere. Nothing to see here.
But wait! The other company with whom you've decided to work brings it's own audience along for the ride, expanding your potential reach. You're getting a whole new set of eyes on your content, and potentially introducing a new audience to your brand.
Brand awareness isn't something that's always touched upon with Inbound Marketing, because it's difficult to measure. That doesn't mean that it's not valuable.
Plus, using the expertise of the other company lends an air of legitimacy to the content, particularly if you're delving into a topic that is outside of your realm of proficency.
Ready to get started?
1. Selecting a Partner
Okay, you've decided to take the plunge and engage in co-branding. But who do you choose to be your teammate?
First of all, it needs to be someone for whom this would mutually beneficial. If it's not going to do anything for them, why would they participate? The partnership should make sense.
There are times where the partnership might not be mutually beneficial. One audience might not match up perfectly, but you know the expertise needed is there. That's okay, as long as that's discussed up front and the expectations are clear from the beginning.
Choosing a partner should be taken seriously; if you're going to be working closely with a company, you want to be sure that your association will enhance your image as well as that of your potential partner.
Additionally, please recall that you're asking this other company to do you a favor; the easier you make it for them, the more likely they'll be to participate willingly. They will remember you and your company fondly, making it more probable that they'd step in and work with you again in the future, or reciprocate the favor at a later time.
Remember, this should be your first step—not selecting the content. Once you've chosen your collaborator, your topic will sort of choose itself.
ng the Content
As we said above, your choice of partner will really guide the topic that you write about. You'll want it to be something that speaks to your audience and be a topic that your partner can provide a deeper level of understanding than what you are able to provide.
There are several options available for collaboration.
- Blog Posts— This is one of the easiest ways to co-brand. You could post on your site as well as your partner's, and you could promote it on both of your social media accounts. Tapping into search engine optimization is the biggest benefit here. I recommend this as a quick partnership where leads aren't a priority with the relationship. This is also a good starter piece to collaborate on with a new partner. You'll be able to get a feel for what it's like to work together prior to diving into a more complex piece.
- Guide— If you're looking for a good option for gathering email addresses, creating a downloadable guide is a good option for this. Partners can easily divide the work required to create a downloadable guide; one company can be responsible for layout, another for the content, and both can benefit from the collaboration. (We at SpinWeb collaborated with our friends at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP to create a guide to copyright online; it was a very successful partnership!)
- Webcasts— Take the leading experts in your companies, put them together and have them discuss a topic that interests them both and can benefit both of their audiences. I think webcasts provide the best opportunity for lead generation, even beyond downloadable materials.
- Video— An informational video can be an effective way to explain a process to a wide audience; if you choose a topic that pertains to both companies, this could be a great way to co-brand. If you want to go the video route, I recommend video be a major part of your content strategy. Otherwise, it seems disconnected.
3. Branding and Design
Branding is more than just making sure your logos are there; it communicates your company's leading characteristics and attributes, letting your audience know precisely who you are and what you have to offer. You'll need to be sure that both companies are properly represented, and that the content reflects their values as well as yours.
You should take care that both company's names are prominently displayed while you're promoting the content; you want to ensure that your audiences are aware that you're working together.
A neutral color palette is a good call, too. Unless you've specifically agreed to use one company's particular branded color, you should agree on a neutral color and use accent colors chosen from each partner's specific branding to highlight passages that are considered important.
When we worked with Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP to make an ebook about copyright, we promoted it on our blog with an excerpt from the guide as well as a CTA inviting readers to download the guide. We linked to BGD's website within the article, and both the SpinWeb and BGD logo were displayed on each page of the guide.
4. Create a Plan
You hope that your content will generate some response when you release it out into the world. What then? What do you do? Which company will be in charge of following up on potential leads? Will you have a landing page on both sites? All of these questions should be answered prior to the launch, just to eliminate any confusion.
Sit down together and discuss your objectives, both individual and joint, and identify the projected ROI for this particular project. Both parties must be very clear on their goals, or nobody will benefit from the collaboration.
Also, discuss the timeline for the launch. You will need to be sure that you've allowed ample time to create the content, and don't forget to factor in the need to get approvals and feedback from both partners. This can definitely effect the schedule.
It's done! You've worked with a partner to create content that's relevant to both of your audiences, that accurately reflects both companies' branding, and you've devised a plan. It's time to set it loose and reap the benefits.
After the launch, I think a good and honest post-mortem review is healthy. Discuss what worked, what didn't work and determine if a partnership in content collaboration should continue in the future.
Do you have any specifc tips for content partnership and co-branded materials? I'd love for you to share them!