The Art of Co-Marketing

One sunny afternoon last June, I met Olga Mykhoparkina, an ex-colleague and fellow marketer, for coffee. After commiserating over the challenges of content marketing and sharing some strategies to address them, a simple idea struck us. Our audiences overlapped some, but we weren’t competitors—so what if we joined forces on a few pieces of content?

For context, I am the head of digital marketing at Daxx, a technology company that helps brands build remote development teams. Olga is the CMO at Chanty, a startup producing an AI-powered messenger for team communication.

We’d both seen successful examples of co-marketing over the years. Uber and Spotify collaborated on a campaign that let customers pick music on their rides. Airbnb and Flipboard teamed up to create some multimedia content for four cities. These partnerships often came down to growing both user bases and improving brand awareness. The more we tossed around the idea, the easier it was to see how it could simultaneously benefit both companies.

So we decided to take the plunge. Here are three ways you can too.

Sharing Articles

Consistently creating engaging content is hard. One way to lighten the load is to get a non-competing company that has expertise in a field that your audience cares about. You can work out the topics ahead of time to fill in the blanks in your coverage and then swap bylines.

At Daxx, we care about remote hiring for developers across the world. We’re headquartered in Amsterdam but have other offices in Europe, Israel, and the U.S. At the same time, Chanty is building a tool designed to foster remote team collaboration. The brand’s blog posts often focus on collaboration, corporate communication, and the rise of chat apps. Even though Olga and I already knew each other, there was a natural fit between our companies that just made sense.

Having allies is one way to do more with less.

When we met that fateful day for coffee (our offices are only five minutes apart), we decided to take the next few weeks to each write a blog post on remote work. My article was an insider’s look at all of the major platforms SaaS businesses can use to hire software developers. Olga, meanwhile, drafted a list of tips on how to improve collaboration among remote teams. Better yet, she also included an original infographic.

The result was a co-marketing win-win. Chanty’s guest post, for instance, brought in above-average engagement and 11 backlinks for our site. And since Daxx has a higher domain authority, Olga had access to a new subset of potential customers.

Sharing Credibility

When marketers focus too much on creating more, more, more, they forget that a huge part of successful content is conveying expertise. If you already have enough credibility to influence your audience, you can get away with only sharing your own perspective. But for most brands, especially those in the earlier stages of content marketing maturity, you’re going to need a list of suitable experts to help get your points across.

In my experience, connecting with these people is a crapshoot. Establishing a rapport with the right company or expert is incredibly time-consuming. Your message can get buried under dozens of other requests. Also, some companies have great expertise but may be skeptical of any overlap between audiences.

Just imagine how much easier this task gets when you already have a long-term co-marketing partner who doesn’t need to compete against you. A few months ago, my marketing team was working on a guest post about branding tips for young tech startups. We needed to include expert opinions to back up the advice. So our team turned to Chanty.

co-marketing chanty

For a young startup, Chanty’s branding is both unique and consistent. Their website and assets have a colorful, modern, and fun aesthetic that stands out. Additionally, Chanty’s founder used to be a graphic designer who worked with world-class companies like Apple and Adobe. So it was an easy decision to reach out to them for the piece. The move saved me time while giving Chanty more exposure to a different audience (Lucidpress, in this case).

Sharing Visuals

Infographics, graphs, and other visuals are often effective investments because they can be repurposed over time. They’re also more likely to encourage sharing compared to text-heavy content. The problem, of course, is they take significantly more budget and time to create.

Producing an infographic requires writing, editing, design, and possible data analysis. That doesn’t even include promotion. If you spend four figures on one asset, you need people to see it. So you also have to factor in time spent on PR. But if you have a co-marketing partner, all of those responsibilities no longer seem as daunting. Another company or publisher could handle part of the creative process if you team up on a project. They’ll also be able to double the outreach when you’re looking for coverage. And at the very least, you’ll establish a relationship with an ally on a deeper level than if you just swapped guest posts.

A few months ago, Chanty published a guest post of their own on another website that featured an infographic we created about software developers in America. The website in question belonged to Foundr, so we viewed it as an opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs and founders who read Foundr’s blog. Chanty saved resources on graphics and added some gravitas to the blog post. Again, it wasn’t a tough decision.

When you find the right partner, you also have plenty of other ways to experiment—releasing a joint newsletter, co-hosting a webinar, helping with an event. Because of the nature of our companies, Olga and I have placed a huge bet on collaborating in the future. We’ve gotten to the point where we frequently offer constructive criticism on works in progress, even if we’re not going to swap them.

The co-marketing formula here is simple, but I hope it helps to see it in action. Marketers sometimes seem hesitant to work outside of their operations. Perhaps they’re afraid of sharing state secrets. But having allies is one way to do more with less. And regardless of what your budget is, being more productive without needing to spend a lot is always a good thing.

Image by iStockPhoto

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