Co-branded partner content marketing enables companies to collaborate on a shared content project — the result of which provides an end product that (in theory) saves all partners time.
Many partners don’t have the resources or skill sets to create high-value content on their own. In fact, 84% of partners surveyed do not have a dedicated marketing resource. Therefore, the onus is on the vendor to provide it.
Why You Should Try Co-Branded Partner Content Marketing
One of the biggest perks to co-branded content marketing projects, besides efficiency gains, is that they enable companies to gain access to new audiences.
Collaboration makes for valuable partner marketing content too. For example, one partner may not have enough subject matter expertise to fill an entire eBook or webinar. But several partners’ contributions could deliver a well-rounded, solution-centric piece of partner marketing content that prospects would be happy to exchange their email address for.
Most often, the co-branded content project is shared behind a lead generation form and leads are generated by partners, tracked with UTM codes, and shared fairly among partners by the vendor.
How to Create Flexible Co-Branded Partner Content Marketing
For any co-branded partner content marketing project to be a success, it must be designed in a way that works for all partners. Below we’ve outlined three steps that teams can follow to create a flexible (and successful) B2B partner marketing project.
1. Select the Right Content Format
When it comes to partner marketing content, companies vary in their content format preference. Partner marketing teams generally use content formats that work universally and that all partners can easily contribute to. Here is a list of popular asset types and the pros and cons of using each as part of a partner marketing campaign:
|Long-Form Content||Whitepapers and eBooks can include multiple partners’ subject matter expertise for well-rounded assets that appeal to a wide audience.||Partners can sometimes have competing solutions and it can be difficult to encourage collaboration.|
|Webinar||Webinars encourage live engagement with an audience and facilitate the participation of several complementary partners.||Since webinars are usually live, it can be difficult to ensure the content remains useful and not sales oriented.|
|Videos||Videos are visually pleasing and have a high audience impact.||Videos are difficult to scale, edit, and customize for partner use.|
|Podcasts||Podcasts are novel ways to share expertise in a casual way.||Similar to webinars, podcasts are interview-like assets and it can be difficult to keep the content on track.|
|Microsites||Microsites are a great way to launch a partner initiative without diluting the brand of any partner involved.||Microsites are not set-it-and-forget-it assets. To see real results, partners must commit to keeping the microsite fresh.|
|Blog Posts||Blog posts are great for partner campaigns. Partners can guest post on one another's sites or post on common themes around a shared initiative.||Blog posts are only useful if they’re backed by an SEO strategy and a solid distribution plan.|
|Infographics||Infographics can summarize the main points of a high production value asset like an eBook. They’re also easily customizable for partners.||If the partner has no in-house design skills, they may require support to customize infographic assets themselves.|
Decisions on format are often based on brand guidelines, budget, and output capabilities. For example, one partner may be fully capable of creating and editing a video, while another partner may not be capable (or may not be able to afford to).
As a result, the full burden of production will fall squarely on the shoulders of the partner with video capabilities (unless a third-party marketing agency is hired to help).
2. Co-Author the Content Outline
Next up, before diving into the actual content, we strongly recommend that partners co-author a content outline.
A well-defined content outline has several advantages. First, it ensures everyone is in agreement on the sections and topics before moving into full production. By creating a content outline, the partner team can clearly identify which sections each partner is able to modify down the road and which sections must remain in the final piece.
An effective content outline is not just a list of topics, it’s a framework for a set of ideas that will bring your content to life (and get everyone on the same page). Here are some steps to follow when building a content outline:
- Define the purpose of your content: What do you want your reader to understand?
- Define the audience for your content: Knowing your audience allows you to focus your content better.
- Write down the one main point you want to drive home: This will take several drafts until you get it just right.
- Brainstorm all of the ideas you want to include in your content: This should include all the key sections you want to explore and any research you’ve found that will enrich these points.
- Label your ideas with headings and subheadings: The labels should be precise enough that you could write a sentence for each section of the outline. Also, include recommended word counts for each section and subsection.
- Write a draft of your outline: As you write the draft you may rearrange some of your ideas into a more logical order.
When your draft is complete, share it with stakeholders for feedback. This process sets expectations upfront and cuts down on extensive rounds of revision later.
3. Allow for Personalization
As you build the content for your partner marketing campaign, remember to allow some room for your partners to add their own flair. While it’s generally advised to retain creative control of the cornerstone piece of content (i.e. the eBook or white paper), there are lots of ways to allow partners to tailor other aspects of the campaign like personalized blog posts, emails, infographics, social content, and webinars.
For example, if you’ve built an infographic to support the eBook, the bulk of the content should adhere to the shared messaging built in the content outline. However, there should also be areas where each partner can add their own unique subject matter expertise, value proposition, content details, and logos.
The partners can personalize their versions themselves (if you provide the raw working files and they have skills in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, etc.) or a third party agency can manage the variations seamlessly and professionally.
Adobe | Magento’s The Journey of a Gift campaign is an example of a partner marketing campaign that was consistent with its cornerstone asset — a high-value eBook guide — but designed to allow the 9 participating partners to personalize various aspects and generate their own leads.
Each ecosystem partner contributed to a different chapter in the eBook. The end result was a series of deliverables featuring whimsical holiday season storytelling, playful illustration, real-life customer stories, and insights gleaned from interviews with the partners. Each partner received a copy of the eBook with their own co-branded promotional material to generate leads for their business.
eBook: Adobe | Magento’s The Journey of a Gift
eBook: candor & Multapplied SD-WAN Guide
Brochures: Multapplied and candor SD-WAN Guide
Customizable Partner Content
- Landing Page
- Partner Webinar Presentation
- Social Media Content
If you’re ready to start building flexible co-branded partner content that hits the mark, download our Partner Marketing Playbook for tips or contact TPM for expert advice.