Why Collaborative Relationships are Key in Marketing Success

A while back, I wrote an article for the Content Marketing Institute blog highlighting four key collaborative relationships that every marketer should build in order to be successful. In the article, one of my points mentioned creating new allies. What I was referring to was the creation of mutually beneficial relationships with complementary companies, industry associations or influencers to increase your marketing’s reach and connect with your audience and beyond. I’d like to expand on that concept a bit by pointing out just how you can connect with a few of these critical allies.

Here’s a bit of advice I hope you’ll take to heart.

Complementary companies

These are companies that offer products or services that enhance your offerings and vice versa. It’s in both of your best interests to promote one another, as increased business for one typically means the same for the other.

Start by looking at your software vendors, material suppliers and customers. Then do some research and locate other companies with whom you aren’t currently working where there’s a connection that could work in both your favor. Locate their marketing lead and reach out to them. Make sure you’ve got some talking points about the type of collaboration you’d like to initiate, as well as some concrete insights into how both parties would benefit.

Once you’ve got them on board, try some of these ideas for collaborative marketing:

  • Case studies – If you’ve seen success working together, brag about it.
  • White papers – Combine your knowledge to present a well-crafted, informative paper that presents you both as experts.
  • Video testimonials – Create high-quality, short videos with each side preaching how wonderful the other is and how each benefits from working with one another.
  • Webinars – Presenters from each company, along with a neutral moderator, speak as experts on a topic of interest.
  • Social media – Set up a system where each side shares the other’s social media posts to increase their reach.

The beauty of it all is that you now have the ability to reach a whole new audience. If orchestrated properly, the goal is for both sides to then take the new marketing content and share it with their own audience. This effectively amplifies the reach of the content, increases brand awareness and ideally leads to increased business.

Industry associations

Now that you’ve got all that fancy, new marketing content in place from your collaborative efforts with complementary companies, it’s time to look for ways to enhance it’s potential even more. Connecting with authoritative industry associations is a really effective way to make this happen.

Some relationships with industry associations are pay-to-play, while others are more of a “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” situation. You’ll need to do a bit of both to uncover the full potential of this relationship, but it’ll be worth it, just trust me on this one.

Try these actions to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the associations that represent the voice of your industry:

  • Offer to contribute by joining a committee.
  • Write articles for association blogs.
  • Buy space at the next event they produce.
  • Advertise on association websites.
  • Follow associations on social media and engage consistently.
  • Volunteer your expertise in areas you think you can be of help.
  • Ask how you can help promote their mission.
  • Become a paying member.

These are just a few suggestions, but anything you can do to strengthen this relationship will result in a positive impact on your business. These associations exist to enhance the standing of the particular industry they represent, so if you’re willing to lend a hand, they’ll be happy to lend one back. The more your company and other companies in the industry succeed, the more success the associations will enjoy in turn.


In addition to authoritative associations in your industry, you’ll want to seek out authoritative individuals. These people tend to fall under the moniker of “influencer.” They’ve amassed a large following of loyal followers who trust and live by the advice that they offer on their websites, at conferences, across social media or on any other platform from which they can shout their message.

Being mentioned in a positive light by these folks can go a very long way in enhancing your company’s image. But don’t rush into these relationships thinking that just because you want to work with them they will want to work with you. There’s a good chance they won’t even take the time to respond to your email, not because they don’t like you, but because they get so many. In order to make this relationship work, you need to take a caring, nurturing approach and be patient, as they are slow to build.

Take these steps to make it happen:

  • Email – Reach out to the influencer you’re targeting and simply let them know that you appreciate their work.
  • Social media – Start sharing the influencer’s content on your social media channels, and be sure to mention them in the posts, so they’re aware.
  • Articles – Regularly cite advice from them in articles on your blog.
  • Conferences – Find out where they’ll be speaking and stop by to introduce yourself, but don’t overstay your welcome. A short introduction and “thank you” will suffice.
  • Another email – Follow up to let them know you appreciated the conversation and remind them of who you are.
  • Rinse and repeat – Continue to follow these steps, not being too intrusive, until the influencer picks up on the fact that you’re of value to them.

The key to influencer relationships is proving that you add value to the influencer’s ability to promote their own agenda. If you can truly offer value, they’ll likely be happy to reciprocate. Having an influencer promote your company or working with them on a collaborative project can really put you on the map. Just make sure you’re genuine in your intentions, because this can backfire. If you annoy or offend an influencer, or they find out you have shady, selfish intentions, the negative impact they can have on your company’s image can be equally as impactful as the positive impact you’ll experience if you play by the rules.

Hopefully these tips will get you excited about collaborative marketing. If properly orchestrated, positive things will surely follow. Don’t make the mistake of going it alone. Look around and figure out who can help you and how you can return the favor. Make sure the relationships you forge make sense, are a fit for both parties and have potential to produce a truly positive upside all around.

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4 thoughts on “Why Collaborative Relationships are Key in Marketing Success

  1. Good article Anthony! I like to think that the world is changing somewhat. The internet has people linked and connected in ways we never would have dreamed 30 years ago. Now we have content marketing stressing value – value for the reader – rather than just selling to the reader. Your ideas of working with complementary companies, joining and helping industry associations and influencers and stressing collaboration are a breath of fresh air. You stressed giving value to those companies, associations and influences, not just using them. These ideas of connection and collaboration can change the world you know? When are you putting your name on the presidential ticket? There’s room!

    1. Thanks, Patt! If we stop focusing so much on competing and more on working together, we really could change the complexion of business (and the world). It starts with just a few people with open minds, then progresses and other people and businesses see how well it works. The key is to find other likeminded individuals and work together to help one another. Even direct competitors can sometimes benefit from working together, if it’s done properly.

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