Who is your perfect content partner? A big brand? A cool start-up? A charity you believe in? Or is it a repeat customer who puts you on a retainer to create artful short film projects with great budgets? (Don’t laugh, they do exist).
In today’s highly collaborative world these opportunities exist in spades, you just have to know how to land them. Here I’m going to share how I’ve successfully built my ideal content partnerships and why you will make your best work in the process.
1. BE PROACTIVE
I’m going to assume you’ve already made a list of your ultimate content partners. You’ve written a profile of their business and you know the key personnel within their organization. You’re like a detective on the verge of solving a case, with photos of their products, personnel and company reports on your wall. You’re not a stalker, but you’re close.
If you don’t have a list of your ideal content partners, make sure you do that on a yearly or quarterly basis. You should have a list of 10 or 20 dream content partners at any given time, and actively be looking for ways to approach them, collaborate on content, and work together.
Quick tip: Take the time to seek out potential partners and understand their business. The more you know about what makes them tick, the more able you’ll be to identify the right opportunities at the right time.
2. THINK IN TERMS OF ‘COLLABORATION’ AND ‘PARTNERSHIP’
Notice I’m using the term ‘content partner’ instead of ‘client’. There is a fundamental difference between how we think of clients and partners. With a partner, you often share a philosophical point of view. With a partner, you are working toward a mutually beneficial outcome. With a partner… you get the point. Your ideal content partner runs a business you believe in, and believes that working with you is a key ingredient for success.
By reaching out to companies that you genuinely believe in, and approaching them with enthusiasm for their business, you are already filling a major criterion of what they are looking for. As a result, you will also stand a much better chance of creating excellent content together. This is how I got to work with Xero, Nikon, and Wipster. These are businesses I respect and care about, that provide services that I believe in. I also use them on a weekly, if not daily, basis, so I understand their business inside and out.
3. LOOK FOR WAYS TO PULL, NOT PUSH A COLLABORATION
There is a marked rise in collaborative content these days, from reciprocal blog posts to YouTube channels, to podcasts inviting collaborators to share their thoughts and opinions about their industry and the world.
If you approach your ideal content partner and ask if they would like to be a part of a piece of content you are creating about their industry, you are giving them a chance to show their expertise. This helps you to create a relationship built around your mutual interests and opens the door to further collaborations, as well as putting you and your abilities at the front of their mind.
Compare these two approaches to contacting your ideal partner:
- “I run a film production company and would love the chance to work with you. Could you spare 30 minutes sometime in the next two weeks to look at my website and check out my reel?”
- “I’m putting together a video featuring some of the most innovative new companies in the tech space, and I would love to interview you. Could you spare 30 minutes sometime in the next two weeks to be a part of it?”
The first approach is all about you, and is all push. The second approach is all about them, and is almost all pull.
The first approach might elicit a “thanks for reaching out, I’ll keep you in mind” response, but probably wouldn’t inspire further investigation. The second approach, however, is far more intriguing and would be much more likely to generate a positive response. They would probably ask who else is being interviewed and consult the great oracle of the modern age (Google) to find out more about you and the work you do. If it all checked out and aligned with their objectives, they’d most likely say yes – they’d be foolish not to. It’s a chance to be featured as an expert and gain exposure for their business through collaboration and positive association.