If I asked you what the most important element of business was, how would you answer? If you answered with ‘connections’, you would be spot on! Connections and the relationships they create are what fuel business. Felena Hanson shares how to maximize these relationships, through collaboration marketing, in her contributing article,The Marketing Collaboration Revolution: How Working Together Equals Business Success for the National Association of Women Business Owners (N.A.W.B.O.).
Collaboration marketing represents a “pull” approach where the marketer becomes so helpful to customers that they seek the marketer out, rather than a conventional “push” approach blasting marketing messages out in an effort to find customers that might be receptive to the marketer’s offering. It’s what author, Seth Godin calls “Permission Marketing”.The approach is all about positioning the company as the “go to” or “orchestrator”. By serving as a central resource, helping to connect customers with other entities, collaboration marketers develop richer profiles of customers and their needs. They in turn learn much more deeply and rapidly about their customers than traditional marketers who focus on narrow “one to one” relationships. This type of marketing strategy can be a very powerful and cost-effective approach that has the potential to increase brand loyalty and foster a valuable dialogue with customers”.
Goals of Collaboration Marketing
1. Overall brand awareness is greatly increased.
2. Builds loyal customers through a relationship of respect and trust.
3. Close relationships with customers allows the company to develop new products/services that are sure to “hit the mark”.
4. Saves valuable marketing dollars, as it’s less expensive than traditional marketing.
The Five “A”s of Collaboration Marketing
Authentic: The brand’s voice – The measure of a successful brand so often depends on whether it has achieved authenticity in the eyes of its consumers. But what makes a brand authentic? It all starts with a good story – sharing the meaning behind the company and brand is critical. People have a thousand choices… why would they want to do business with you? Consistency of message, voice, and tone is also critical in building an authentic brand. Great examples: Southwest, Zappos, Target.
Assist: Give back / Get involved– A very powerful way to attract people is to be as helpful and engaging as possible. This requires a deep understanding of the various contexts in which people might use your products and a willingness to “co-create” products with customers. This also includes the relationships you’re building with non-profits. The key is to give and not ask for anything in return.
Affiliates: Referral Partners / Brand Evangelists– Mobilize and leverage third parties, including strategic alliances and related associations to help spread your authentic brand story. The ultimate goal is to elicit the phrase, “I’ve heard of you somewhere”. Examples: an estate planning attorney aligning with an elder care company or giving free talks via AARP.
Address: Spur online conversations and reviews– Informal online conversations about your company and products are happening in many different venues – and there’s no way to stop them. Better to work to influence the discussion, providing outlets for positive interactions to manage your risks. Which is what collaboration marketing is all about. Use tools like HootSuite and Mention to track.
Analyze: Monitor & Measure– There’s an old saying that if something can’t be measured, it isn’t worth doing. Someday, performance metrics will emerge that demonstrate the full value of collaboration marketing. But until then, it makes sense to start with basics such as site usage, page hits and the overall tenor of the discussion. These simple metrics will give you some indication of the impact you’re having. Try using tools like, Tweet Reach & Marketing Grader.