B2B Marketing Strategy

3 things to consider when working on your next collaboration in B2B marketing

Brett McGrath

July 13, 2021

3 things to consider when working on your next collaboration in B2B marketing

I was 12 years old on Spring Break with my family when I came up from the beach to cool off and turned on MTV.  There were other things on TV during this period of my life, but none seemed to matter more than what was coming out on MTV. 

Today, the algorithms of Spotify, Apple Music, or fill in the next streaming service curate the music of our life. Rewind back to 1997 and MTV held the prestigious honor of influencing what a new generation listened to through music videos. I’ll never forget turning on MTV that day and being hit over the head at what I was about to see. 

It was a video that I had never seen before from a female artist that I was unfamiliar with. She had an attitude and the beats that accompanied the track demanded my attention. The hook on this track was exceptionally catchy. There was a guy rapping it that I had never seen or heard before. I reached over to my backpack to pull out a notepad to make sure that I caught the name of the artist and song during the closing credits. I wanted to make sure I remembered it for my next trip to buy CD singles at Sam Goody. Again, I never cease to amaze myself with how old I make myself feel when I write articles on this blog.

The song was coming to an end. 

I grabbed my mechanical pencil with a tight grip as I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to document my next purchase.

On the bottom of the screen flashed the name…

Foxy Brown - I’ll Be featuring….Jay Z.

When I returned home from the beach and got my parents to take me to Sam Goody to buy the single I remember finding it and then walking to see if this Jay Z guy had any other music.

I went back to the hip hop section and found his name and an album, “Reasonable Doubt”. I slipped them to my Mom hoping she didn’t see the Parental Advisory sticker. It was my lucky day as she must have been distracted. We walked right up to the counter. She paid and handed me the bag.  My new music was secured and this purchase would help change the trajectory of what would become the standard for hip hop music for me for many years to come. 

I call this out at the top of a marketing blog post to share some perspective for how powerful collaborations can be. It seems almost insane to think about now, but without that Foxy Brown video I wouldn’t have had such an early exposure to Jay Z. 

I think about this example and the way hip hop artists operate a lot when I think about collaborations in B2B marketing. Rappers value features and collaborations. They value gaining exposure to new audiences through similar artists. Hip hop artists bring each other on tour and shine the spotlight on each other. They are not only great marketers, but excellent collaborators. 

I think being proactive and creating opportunities to effectively collaborate is one of the most important skills for any modern day B2B marketer. This is a strategy that I’ve led since joining The Juice and is something that I think is exceptionally important to discuss. 

There’s no cookie cutter, out of the box way to build collaborations in B2B marketing, but I want to share some core pieces of advice that have worked for me and hope can help you out when you are thinking about building your next collaboration opportunity. 

Here are 3 things to consider when working on your next collaboration in B2B marketing

  1. Be proactive 

I’ll be the first to tell you that opportunities to collaborate usually don’t fall from the sky. Typically, there is a healthy amount of research and due diligence that are required to bring these opportunities to life. The exception is for people or companies who have established brands. Once you are established, opportunities just come. That’s what we are all working towards, however, there is a lot of groundwork that is required to advance to this level..

When I am referencing a collaboration opportunity I am simply talking about the idea of you taking your message on another platform and sharing it with an audience outside of your own. There are podcasts, video series, events, newsletters, and a multitude of other content opportunities to think about when collaborating. 

In order to get in the game you need to be organized with your request and let the marketer who owns the platform to quickly understand why you should matter to their audience. There is a certain art that goes into getting more, “I’m interested in hearing more” than ignores. 

  1. Offer value 

I can’t tell you how many times a week I get approached by someone who notices that I am doing a podcast for a MarTech company and they blindly pitch why the marketer that they are representing is a good fit for our show. 

The 3C Podcast is about content marketing. It shouldn’t be that hard, but so often a batch and blast of communication hits my email with a proposal that couldn’t be more off the mark from the core ethos of our show. It’s not just about being a fit for the platform owner’s content, but more importantly it’s the message that you use up front to get their attention.

I’ve been building mutually beneficial collaboration opportunities for me and others for the past several years and can assure you one thing above all else is true. Your odds increase to join someone else’s show when you have a show and ask for them to be a guest first. It’s all about building relationships and establishing value. Collaboration opportunities have a massive payoff, but they also take a ton of work to get right.

My biggest piece of advice is to do your research and deeply understand the person who you are reaching out to in advance of the message. Marketers with platforms share their ideas publicly. It’s easy  to listen to their podcast, check their Twitter feed, or see who else they have been working with on collaboration opportunities.

You’d be amazed at how many people don’t do this. The more you create value and serve first the more opportunities will follow. 

  1. Make your guest look like industry thought leaders

There is nothing transactional about being proactive, adding value, and making your guests look like industry thought leaders. The more that you can view collaboration as a long term opportunity the more you will get out of it. 

The Juice is in our infancy stages as a business. I enter every Twitter exchange, Slack DM, or email as an audition. I want marketers to understand what we are building, but more importantly believe in what I am about as a marketer. When I select guests for the podcast I choose people first and then their company follows. I want passion, perspective, and a heavy dose of independent thinking out of my guests. All of these factors make for a good podcast episode and are critically more important than what company people work for. 

Above all else I want people who come on my show to stand out. It’s not just about the content of the episode, but also the strength of the promotion. I want guests to understand that my goal is to get them in front of as many people as possible and my job as a marketer is to do that. 

The better your conversation, promotion, and communication during the process the more likely you’ll have a shot at joining your guests show or collaboration opportunity. 

Be mindful that it is a long game and the more value that you give the more value that you will get on the back end. It took me over a decade of marketing in B2B to understand this.

I hope that some of what I can share can save you time and allow you to focus on the right type of activities when you are pushing your company’s brand forward. 

Last week I shared a thread on Twitter about a recent collaboration experience that helped inspire this post. 

I’ve had a blast getting to know Yaag Ganesh. I jumped on ABM Conversations last week and he is recording an episode of the 3C Podcast this week. 

We are both members in the same groups. We both share similar beliefs on how we can improve B2B marketing and we both are passionate about what we do.

Sure we’ve done some marketing this together, but it’s much more about what is possible in our future relationship. The opportunities are endless for how we can work together to create mutually beneficial opportunities for our audiences. 

Who knows? It might be like Jay Z and Kayne’s Watch the Throne, but for B2B marketing.

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