top of page

How to Boost Your In-house Content Capability with Strategic Content Partnerships

Strategic Content Partnerships are a more efficient and strategic way for B2B marketing and communications leaders to engage with external content creators beyond traditional freelancer and 'by the hour' consultant retainer arrangements.

You can read a quick summary of the concept here or access the full white paper here.

Today’s post looks at this concept in more detail. How do you define a Strategic Content Partnership and what are some use cases in the workplace?

What are Strategic Content Partnerships?

There are two broad, defining characteristics of partners who are likely to be more strategic (able to make a contribution to the organisation’s overall strategic direction or longer-term goals) rather than transactional (meeting an immediate need for coverage or deliverables).

1. Depth and application of in-house experience

These consultants are typically mid-career, having spent at least 15 years working in senior

in-house roles. They have a solid understanding of writing for a variety of audiences and producing content that is aligned to an organisation’s strategic outcomes.

They also have experience working with CEOs, executives and other senior stakeholders.

When the provider is proactive about applying this experience to the engagement, it becomes more strategic to the organisation.

For example, they may offer flexibility in the contract to coach, develop and mentor some of you direct reports. This also frees up some of your time to focus on other priorities.

2. Simple, flexible contracting arrangements with greater accountability for deliverables

Standard retainer agreements with ‘by the hour’ billing provisions require an administrative investment on the client’s side in order to demonstrate value-for-money.

On the other hand, strategic partners offer simple, flexible contracting arrangements that help organisations develop high-quality content, quickly and reliably. They offer clear oversight of deliverables and easier attribution of ROI in content development, right down to the level of an individual piece of content.

Strategic partners also offer enough flexibility in the contract to enable and support you if you want to scale up and scale down content production over the course of the relationship.

Use cases for Strategic Content Partnerships

Strategic Content Partnerships have a range of applications, both short-term (periods of three months or less) and longer-term (periods of more than three months).

Short-term use cases

Recruitment and on-boarding coverage: When a key member of your team departs the organisation, you’re facing an immediate resourcing challenge - not only do you need to advertise the role and find the right candidate, there is also a period of on-boarding and orientation while the new person ‘gets their feet under the desk’.

This can mean three months or more of disruption and strain on all members of the team, as responsibilities are reshuffled to ensure coverage for all the essentials.

In this situation, you don’t need a full-time employee equivalent on a short-term contract. You need someone with senior-level expertise to come in and focus on delivering, so you can get on with managing the team and finding the right candidate.

A three-month Strategic Content Partnership with an external provider can ease some of that pressure. They will help you identify the critical deliverables over those three months and ensure they get done.

New leader coverage: If you are a new leader, your first 100 days are likely to be taken up with meetings across the organisation to gather priorities and requirements, planning and deciding longer-term resourcing for the team.

There is precious little time for writing strategic content - however, these activities still need to be done.

A three-month Strategic Content Partnership will allow you to ‘quarantine’ some of the non-negotiable work and hand it over to a trusted pair of hands - so you can focus on executing your 100-day plan.

Longer-term use cases

‘Small and lean’ marketing and communications functions: More organisations are embracing ‘small and lean’ team design, which means forming longer-term strategic partnerships with external providers.

An ongoing Strategic Content Partnership will help supplement your in-house capability, and can be particularly useful if your staff content creators are more junior or have had less experience with strategic content. The strategic partner can assume responsibility for mentoring and coaching one or more staff members to assist with their professional development.

Longer-term resourcing gaps: Resourcing gaps that are longer than six months but less than 12 months (e.g. parental and planned unpaid leave) can be particularly hard to cover. It’s difficult to entice quality candidates on a short-term contract, and by the time you’ve gone through the recruitment and onboarding process, the leave period may be half over!

A Strategic Content Partnership will ensure the essentials are covered for the months when your staff member is out of the office - with no time lost on recruitment and on-boarding.

Peace of mind for regular ‘big rocks’: Large pieces of regular, strategic content work (corporate plans, annual reports, white papers and ‘hero’ campaigns) should be easy to plan for (after all, we know they’re coming!) but it’s not unusual to be caught out - particularly if you’re already facing any of the other resourcing challenges discussed above.

A longer-term Strategic Content Partnership with an external provider allows you to ‘quarantine’ those regular content pieces so you can get on with running the team and getting the day-to-day work out the door.

Find out more on Strategic Content Partnerships


bottom of page