Businesses are sometimes reluctant to collaborate. They can feel protective. They may not want to share ideas, information or the limelight; or they may be nervous about being associated with another brand. But collaboration – whether it’s working with other businesses, charities or local government – can achieve all sorts of positive outcomes.
Collaborative marketing is particularly useful for new businesses or businesses struggling with brand awareness. It is also useful for those looking for more cost-effective marketing options. But putting all of that aside, right now, when we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, collaborating can be a way for you to provide help.
So how do you collaborate successfully?
1-Define your objective
Be clear about exactly what it is you want to achieve through collaboration. Knowing what you want to achieve will make it easier to identify the activities you need to undertake and the sort of brand you should partner up with.
Is it to reach more people? Is it to reach a specific group of people? Is it to reward loyal customers? During the current crisis, your objective may be to provide essential assistance to vulnerable groups, support for key workers or some light relief for the public in lockdown.
Businesses and organisations – no matter how big or small – all have resources that can provide value in some shape or form. Do not think you have nothing to offer.
You could create an advertising partnership. Advertise a brand on your social media channels or e-newsletters in return for them doing the same with theirs.
You could provide prizes for a competition. For example, World Secret Shoes set up the ‘Help From The Countryside’ raffle for the NHS COVID-19 appeal, which has seen prize donations from over 40 brands, including Jessica Mary Design, Cheltenham Racecourse, Daniel Crane Sporting Art and The Oxford Shirt Company.
The opportunities are endless. We have seen some fantastic examples of collaboration during the coronavirus pandemic. Such as restaurants working with one another and their suppliers in order to provide food for the vulnerable; engineering companies sharing information to manufacture critical medical supplies. An excellent local example of creativity is St Barnabas Hospice. They teamed up with 1990s TV fitness star Mr Motivator to keep Lincolnshire active when lockdown started. They also collaborated with Pin Gin for their virtual ‘Gin and Jammies’ fundraiser. Market inn offered a little helping hand too; our Founder, Amy Wallis, came up with #thereinspirit to help their social media campaign.
3-Stay true to your brand
The most effective brand collaborations are those where the brands genuinely align. Alignment may come by way of shared brand values, similar tone of voice, same location, similar target audience. When trying to choose a partner, it is useful to have your customer front of mind. Which brands do they already engage with? Which ones would they aspire to engage with? Answering these questions could help you find the perfect fit. Fail to match up, and your partnership could come under scrutiny. This happened in 2012 when McDonalds was the brand partner for the London Olympics; much of the public felt that the respective values of the brands clashed.
Positives will come out of the COVID-19 crisis. And we think, and hope, that one of those will be an increased willingness in the business community to collaborate. For as Charles Darwin once said, ‘In the long history of humankind, those who have learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.’
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