When marketing your small business, it’s important to look for new ways to reach your target audience and share your company’s unique value proposition. While traditional advertising, direct marketing, sales promotions, personal selling and public relations are all effective ways of promoting your business, you can also reach new consumers by establishing a media partnership.
Understand the Importance of a Media Partnership
A media partnership is an agreement between a business and a media outlet to share content for their mutual benefit. An effective promotional vehicle for companies with small marketing budgets, media partnerships can bring good publicity for both the business and the media outlet. The key is to establish a partnership with a media outlet whose readership is similar to your target audience. This helps you create content for the media outlet that resonates with its readers.
One of the key benefits of a media partnership is that it helps to establish businesses as experts in their domain. This, in turn, builds trust with the media outlet’s audience and can persuade them to buy from your business. For example, if you run a small tailoring and clothing repairs shop, a suitable media partnership may be with a local magazine for young families. If you provide content about how to make small repairs to save money on new clothes, the readers of the magazine may value your expertise and insight. The next time they need to repair some clothes or make a tailoring adjustment to a new dress, they are likely to think of your business.
Know Your and Your Partner’s Target Audience
When establishing a brand partnership strategy with a media outlet, it’s critical to consider your target audience and the media’s target audience. Strategically, the audiences need to align to see a mutual benefit for your business and the media outlet. If your target audience is not the same as the media outlet’s, it’s unlikely to partner with you because you won’t be able to offer something that interests its readership or viewers.
When researching audience segments, be sure to review the demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral characteristics. It’s critical to make sure that there is a significant overlap between your target audience and the media outlet’s audience. This way, you can showcase your expertise to the media outlet and convince it that you can offer its audience something of value.
For example, if you are a mechanic, a good media partnership may be with a local car magazine. You can provide content on the five signs to look for to decide when you need to take your car to a mechanic. If you run a special-occasion bakery, try to establish a media partnership with a local TV station to provide content on how to decorate cakes for the holidays. The key is always to consider the kind of information the media outlet’s audience wants to know and how you can use your business knowledge and expertise to benefit your partner.
Establish What You Need From the Partnership
Define the results you want to achieve from your media partnership. Do you need to reach a certain number of viewers or readers, for example? Do you want your website to be linked from the articles on the media outlet’s website? How many opportunities do you need to share content? Perhaps you want to set up a campaign where you can contribute one piece of content per month for the outlet’s audience. If you have a press release, do you want to be able to share it on the media partner’s platform?
Don’t limit your needs to sharing content. Do you want to be listed as a partner in the outlet’s media kit, for example? Do you want your logo to be on their website under their partners' section? If your media partner hosts events, do you want a seat at the table? Write down a list of your ideal terms with the media partner.
Share What You Bring to the Table
After you determine what you need from the partnership, you need to establish how you can benefit the media outlet. What will it get from this partnership? Keep in mind that many businesses may approach the media outlet to develop a partnership, so you need to ensure that you are offering something no other business can.
Regardless of the kind of media — print, digital, radio or TV — it’s likely that one of the key things the media outlet is looking for is engaging content. It needs interesting stories and information that appeal directly to its target audience. How can your business provide that content to the media outlets?
Do you have unique qualifications for your line of work that set you apart from others in your industry? Do you have decades of experience or training in a new kind of process? Perhaps you have worked with the leaders in your industry, or you use a kind of equipment no one else has. Consider what makes your particular experience valuable in order to provide content the media outlet is looking for. Always consider the outlet’s target audience. What do they need to know, and why are you the right person to tell them about it?
Develop a Strategic Media Plan With Your Media Partner
After you and the media outlet agree to discuss a partnership, it’s time to figure out a strategic media plan. How will you team up to mutually benefit one another? Establish the goals of your media partnership. Is it to reach new consumers? If so, how many? Is it to raise brand awareness? If so, how will you measure it?
Outline what each of you needs to do to reach the goals that you have outlined together. Will you be providing content once a week for the outlet’s blog, for example? Perhaps the media outlet will send a journalist to interview some of your staff for a story once every quarter.
Create Key Messaging for Your Partnership
In your strategic planning, it’s essential to define the key messaging you want to share based on the goals you have outlined. If one of the goals is to set your business up as a trusted expert for the media partner to turn to for content, then your messaging may be around why you are the expert in this area. If the goal is to increase readership, then the key messaging may be around providing new and click-worthy content that garners shares and comments online.
Brand collaboration examples between a small business that offers photocopying and printing services and a small business administration news website may include messaging around how to be more green when printing and photocopying or reducing paper costs in the workplace.
Measure and Reevaluate Your Partnership as Needed
It’s important to measure your progress each month to see how far you are from achieving the goals you established for the partnership. Are the activities in your campaign helping you reach your goals? If not, it may be necessary to reevaluate your plan with the media partner. Do you need to offer something different in terms of content, or does the media partner need to improve its turnaround time for publishing timely topics?
Identify what’s working, what’s not working and why so that you can improve the results of your partnership. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open between your business and your media partner so you can openly discuss the arrangement and how to make it more effective for both sides.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.