Companies must be able to understand the customer insight and collaboration skills that they need to develop in order to compete effectively in the collaborative economy for years to come. Working as a team creates a powerful connection, not just as business owners, but as human beings. When people are connected in helping each other succeed they build a referral network that succeeds both online and offline.
We now have research to show that companies need to embrace the core innovations of the collaborative economy if they want to thrive in the era of Kickstarter, Uber and Taskrabbit. Forming strategic marketing collaborations with other businesses is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach new audiences. As customers are now coming forward to contribute their expertise, time, and resources in marketing exchanges in blogs, social media, and many interactive forums, we are witnessing the emergence of collaborative marketing.
Collaborative marketing is now becoming the process of working together with customers to create value in marketing exchanges. Some of the top companies that have used relationship marketing are required to think first about how to relate to their customers. In contrast, with the active customer, collaborative marketing requires companies to think about collaborating with customers, making sure they have an integral part in the company’s marketing activities. In collaborative marketing, the strategy network becomes the enabler of collaborative exchanges and goes way beyond relationship exchanges because companies involve mutual dependence and maximization of shared benefits to their customers.
If established companies want to tap the power of price, convenience and brand as competitive advantages in the era of the collaborative economy, however, they will have to embrace the lessons of sharing startups’ success. Companies that want to compete on price need to launch their own peer-to-peer marketplaces—like Walmart’s aftermarket for used video games—in order to reduce their customers’ total cost of ownership. Companies that want to offer customers the benefit of convenience can provide the ancillary services and products they need—the way Home Depot now lets its customers rent tools and equipment. And companies that want to leverage the power of their existing brand to attract sharing customers need to find ways to offer their traditional products via ownership or access—just as BMW has done, by introducing the DriveNow service that lets people get BMW vehicles when and where they need them.
The biggest challenge for most new brands is lack of awareness — which is why more than 80% of businesses recognise “finding new customers” as one of their biggest challenges to growth. This need, combined with limited budgets, is what drives a number of savvy brands to explore marketing collaborations to fuel their business. But collaboration remains one of the best-kept secrets of the entrepreneurial world.
More than 60% of start-ups and small businesses are working together to find new customers because it can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to grow a business. At one end of the scale, businesses are co-creating completely new products, or running whole marketing campaigns or on-pack promotions together. At the other end of the scale, savvy start-ups get together with other brands to promote each other’s brands and share each other’s products to expand their own reach.
Collaborative Marketing, in a nutshell, is the process of sharing resources to increase leads, brand, and influence. Not surprisingly, the Internet has made the option of collaborative marketing easier than ever. Are we ready for this paradigm shift? The answer to this question must be well thought out and carefully planned before we begin this new collaborative endeavor. If done correctly and utilized properly, this could grow our business exponentially.