By Vincent Clarke published January 15, 2013

4 Steps to Creating Engaging Content Through Client Collaboration

engaging content-client collaborationSetting up active partnerships with clients plays a significant role in developing customer interest, satisfaction, and loyalty. This collaborative outreach also provides the perfect platform for cultivating new and exciting content for social media contests, product launches, and other marketing campaigns.

Whether we like it or not, the relationship between vendor and client has changed dramatically. Today’s consumer is smarter and more involved with the products and services they buy than ever before. They aren’t happy with simply purchasing an item. Consumers want to be part of the creative process as well.

Nowadays, consumers are most satisfied when they have some form of involvement not only in the company’s activities, but also in defining the limits of their relationship with the company and the products and services it supplies to them. Most small businesses, however, do not have the resources or time to develop this type of engagement, preferring to rely on widespread marketing instead of focusing on the individual.

Collaborating with clients on a smaller, more selective scale is a great way to apply a cost-effective and efficient content marketing strategy. The idea is to develop partnerships with creative clients to generate tons of unique content for your small business. This is a great way to introduce your company into new niches while building a captivating product portfolio that both parties can share to generate interest from their audiences.

Here, we will discuss a couple of quick ways you can qualify potential artistic clients for outreach, negotiate with them for a mutually beneficial collaboration, and work together to create unique, engaging content that can be promoted to each other’s audiences.

1. Target clients with a meaningful social footprint

Client collaboration is not a new concept for us here at USB Memory Direct. We deal primarily in selling customized flash drives that small businesses can use to promote their products and services at seminars, trade shows, and other corporate events. So it is crucial that we show how diverse and creative our marketing product medium can be to our consumers.

Collaborating with clients in an artistic field like photography, graphic design, or web development is the perfect way to showcase your company’s dedication to new and exciting content that will captivate your audience members and inspire them to purchase your products and services.

First, you’ll want to use a good customer relationship management (CRM) software program like Salesforce or Prophet to organize and contact potential collaborative clients. Try to target individuals that have a similar level of exposure and social presence to your company. You want to benefit from each other, so it only makes sense that their outreach is on a similar level to yours. There are many ways to go about this, but I’d suggest starting with the basics.

Research their social media outreach. How many fans or followers do they have? How many comments do their posts generate? How many back-links to other sites do they have? These are all great ways to determine how well clients have established themselves as a popular authority in their niche.

2. Brainstorm ways you could collaborate with the client

Next, you want to choose a product or service that you offer that would fit with the artist’s background and match the type of project he or she would like to work on. This could include developing an entirely new product based on the client’s own current projects. For example, we recently finished collaborating with the Kickstarter project entitled Modkit Micro, an easy-to-use software program that allows you to work with a growing list of open hardware platforms from Arduino to Wiring.

client collaboration

We found that they were looking for a convenient way to distribute the program to their customers and we suggested our flash drives. Together, we worked on a custom-shaped drive that resembled their robot logo and was perfect for their marketing campaign. We were able to gain exposure from their campaign while they were able to get a great product that fit their needs.

3. Contact the client and let them know you’d like to work with them

Remember that a content marketing collaboration is also about the value of the experience to the client, not just the value of the product or service they’ll receive. Developing a competitive advantage in your industry will come by establishing high-quality partnerships that allow select clients to co-create. This is the number one thing that you need to stress in your pitch.

Offering incentives to the client is particularly encouraging, but in the end it’s all about the type of exposure they’ll get and how motivated they feel towards the idea behind this collaboration. In other words, the products and services you’re offering with a pitch are only the platform from which the real collaborative relationship is created. You have to be passionate and believe in what you’re working on if you expect clients to feel the same way.

To connect with a client, first try to build a friendly relationship and improve communications through social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. If they have a blog, leave comments to encourage creative discussions and the possibility of a future partnership. This is usually done well before an actual project comes up, so that clients feel as though your requests are authentic and meaningful.

However, if you’re contacting them for the first time about a project, make sure that you highlight what exactly you’d like to work on and include all the small details. That means outlining what you’re giving them, what they’d have to contribute, the time frame, and the overall benefit they’ll be getting from the project. Do your research, though. Make sure that the client is compatible with the project and would, in theory, be totally OK working on it. It wouldn’t make much sense for McArthur Dairy to work with an artist on a milk advertisement if he or she were lactose intolerant.

Of course, this method won’t work with everyone. Sometimes clients just want to do business with you and not hear from you again until they have another order for you. These kinds of clients are perfectly OK, but there is really no point in trying to push them into a collaborative partnership when they clearly don’t want one.

4. Keep in touch

Following through and keeping in touch with clients well past the end of a project is the key to their satisfaction and long-term loyalty. It is imperative that you communicate with an artist after the end of the project to make sure everyone involved is satisfied with the experience and things went well on their end. Remember that an unhappy client can be just as influential on the outlook of your company as a happy one.

For example, our continued relationship with Sonya Ruth Photography eventually led to a natural social share on her site featuring flash drives she ordered from us. The pictures came out really great and her fans loved them. We received a lot of buzz from her post and we later contacted her and personally thanked her for her contribution.

creating engaging content with clients

Finding ways to work with clients again in the future will result not only in higher profitability for your business, but also in higher satisfaction levels on both sides of the partnership. Just remember that the whole idea behind this content marketing strategy is to create something new and exciting for your audiences. With that in mind, you’ll definitely come up with great collaborative ideas. If you have any questions or would like to add your own tips and advice on client collaborations, please leave a comment below.

Want more ideas for taking content partnerships to the next level for your brand? Read the CMI book, “Brandscaping” by Andrew Davis.

Image credit: Sonya Ruth Photography

Author: Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is an Internet Marketing Specialist for USB Memory Direct, a wholesaler of custom promotional flash drives. He enjoys working one-on-one with customers to deliver great outcomes and is always looking for new content marketing strategies for the USB Memory Direct Facebook and Twitter channels.

Other posts by Vincent Clarke

  • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

    Vincent,
    GREAT piece! Partnering in a meaningful way with your clients and customers is one of the easiest ways to create great content and build business for both of you.
    Thanks so much for sharing this with the rest of the Content Marketing world. Thanks as well for the book shout-out! I really appreciate it. I’m actually recording the audio book version in a few weeks.
    Thanks again for the great piece!
    - Drew

    • http://twitter.com/_VHClarke Vincent H. Clarke

      Thanks for the love Drew! Keep up the great work :)

  • http://www.PuraVidaMultiMedia.com/ CAELAN HUNTRESS

    I like this idea. Client collaboration is a great way to ensure they are repeat clients!

    • http://twitter.com/_VHClarke Vincent H. Clarke

      Thanks Caelan! If you have any cool experience with client collaboration you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it :) Cheers

  • georgina

    CMI is very useful to my work. I just wanted to share this with you. thank you

    • http://twitter.com/_VHClarke Vincent H. Clarke

      Best of luck in all your endeavors Georgina :)

  • Susan J. Campbell

    Great information! Content should always be about what your customers want to receive and not just want we want to push out. In conversations with my clients, I always advise them to use their content platforms for engagement and to invite customer input. It’s also critical that engagement is a priority, even though it takes work and effort.

    • http://twitter.com/_VHClarke Vincent H. Clarke

      I agree :) Creating engagement is definitely the key to attracting new followers and ultimately making those conversions! Thank you for your feedback Susan :)

  • http://twitter.com/_VHClarke Vincent H. Clarke

    Great article Jasmin! I particularly enjoyed how you mentioned that the principle role of co-creation starts at understanding your customers. I believe this should be at the core of any marketing strategy.

  • Simon Mossman

    Thanks for sharing these insights, Vincent.
    Partnership, collaboration, co-working – all very real imperatives in this modern economy and much more preferred than the old transactional approach between consultants and clients.
    This is far more meaningful.

  • Richard

    We just launched http://www.webseam.com into open beta to help web developers collaborate with their clients. Please have a look and give us some feedback