Collaboration Marketing - Are You On Board?

Collaboration teamCollaboration Marketing

A new, more social friendly strategy that deviates from old traditional methods where companies used interruption style advertising and promotion, as ways of marketing. Instead, it focuses on attracting customers by way of understanding their needs and fulfilling their needs, providing a dramatically more personalized customer service. Collaboration Marketing involves strategies that are customer tailored and all aimed at maximizing and adding customer value before, during and after they have purchased the products or service.

Collaboration Marketing can involve the use of third parties to add value to customers’ relationship.  Strategies are often geared toward viewing marketing as “many to one” rather than the common strategy of “one to one marketing”. It also involves collaborating with prospects and customers by way of connecting each prospect or customer with others, with the aim of adding and maximizing value for customers. This is the  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.

Rather than the traditional notion of owning the customer, collaboration marketing strives to give each customer the perception that they own the vendor. By helping to connect customers with other entities, collaboration marketers develop richer profiles of customers and their needs and preferences.  The marketers goal should be to learn as much as possible about their customer and the customers industry. 

Potent new platforms and tools, ranging from the Internet, Cloud, and Web services technology and powerful analytic tools are becoming available to help vendors implement these new marketing programs and deliver on this new brand promise. One writer on collaboration marketing notes, ”If you aren’t developing a “relationship” with a prospect or client that includes Collaboration, you are not staying in today’s game. The game has changed, the rules have changed, and if you aren’t careful the players (you) may be replaced”.

So how does collaboration marketing work?
The idea of Collaboration marketing is to attract new business by becoming extremely helpful to the customer, in a sense a sort of personalized service. This type of marketing targets customers  by understanding the pains, issues, headaches, challenges, and problems of the client. It also involves learning and understanding the goals of the client. Most marketers and sales people are caught up in the belief that they are (or should be in control), that they are the primary focus and the client needs them.  How wrong they are!  It’s about the client not about you!  For example, when marketing to a nursing home you need to know the challenges and pains that a typical nursing home or assisted living facility experiences on a regular basis.  How can you truly bring value to that prospect if you don't know much (or anything) about nursing homes?  They even have a "language" all of their own - which you need to learn.  In the Disaster Restoration industry we use terms like LGR's, dehu's, Air Movers, Desiccants, Directed Heat, S-500, Vortex or Top Down drying, and many more.  Anyone outside our industry doesn't have a clue what we are referring to, so how can we even consider offering services to a nursing home if we don't know their language?

CollaborateCollaboration marketing in today’s business environment.

In today’s business world there is a general shift from the marketing concept which focused on the three I’s. Namely: Inhibit, Intercept and Isolate, to the marketing concept of the three A’s which are Attract, Assist and Affiliate which summarize the meaning of collaboration marketing by moving from one-to-one marketing to the many-to-one insight.

In addition to the three A’s we have the three E’s:  Engage, Empower and Expectation. This focuses on how you engage the customer, empower them through information and also meet and exceed their expectation by fulfilling their preferences and needs, often before they even realize you have done so.  By doing this, they will consider you the “go – to” person they most want to do business with, even for services that you may not offer!

Collaborative marketing, also called ‘horizontal’ or ‘fusion’ marketing, can also be the strategic alliance of two or more companies under a single marketing banner. It was originally thought of as ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,’ but it really is a case of ‘I’ll scratch your back, and it’s very likely you may decide to scratch mine.’   The most critical part of this concept is to be sure we don’t expect a return favor, because it’s not about favors.  In reality it’s about bringing value in advance without any expectations that the prospect or client will reciprocate! This may be a hard concept for some business people who naturally function with the mindset of aggressive, in your face, pushy car sales style selling.   Hopefully you will realize before it’s too late that our society doesn’t accept or tolerate that style anymore!

It’s good for your image too, especially if you’re a small company. If you manage to squeeze onto a collaborative relationship with one of your larger competitors you look like you’re in the same league as them. Collaboration marketing can be as simple as two antique shop owners agreeing to recommend customers to each other if they are looking for something they don’t have. Collaborative marketing is also about fostering a positive, rather than combative, relationship with your competitors.

The best way to market using a collaborative style.
Since collaboration marketing involves connecting customers, (as well as understanding the details of their “pains” and needs), the best way is to enhance the customer experience by fulfilling their preference. Research, effort and time are required to learn about the prospect and their industry so you can bring the most value – in advance. And even better, this customer may collaborate with others and thus increase your customer base and eventually market share, as they will influence others to use your products and services. 

COLLABORATION CONCEPTOur New World and Culture.
Our world, our society and even our local culture has been for decades caught up in the belief of take - take -take.  For many years we have been lead to believe we needed to be in their face, pushing our products and services on the unsuspecting customer, being the first one to deliver the goods without any regard for whether those goods were needed or wanted by the customer!  The best way to succeed in the new culture and business climate is to remember it is about THEM not about you! Learn their needs, wants and preferences and then deliver those.  When you market to a prospective client or customer, you better know their industry, pains, and hot buttons and then provide a way for those pains to go away.   Further, it’s about learning and understanding their “language.”  Every industry has unique terminologies, words and abbreviations. If you don’t take the time to learn their language, you can’t possibly be able to bring the best value and satisfaction for all involved.

To learn how to market to commercial prospects using Collaboration Marketing methods, be sure to attend a "Ramp It Up Now" specialized marketing course exclusively for Disaster Restoration contractors.

Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant.  419-202-6745