5 top tips to collaborate your way to business success

In times of need, innovation booms. We see this with hubs of startups developing in one geographical area like Silicon Roundabout or TechCity, clustering to share resources, knowledge and space to fuel their progress more efficiently.

Fuelled by a sense of austerity, sharing is seen as proactive, efficient and prudent. Whether it is a long-term financial decision like buying and running a car or simply paying for the latest film releases on DVD, the likes of ZipCar and LoveFilm have disrupted existing business models and quickly become market leaders. You can now share your flat via Airbnb, couture dresses via Rent the Runway, or even your own car via WhipCar. All are driving down the cost of ownership through sharing, encouraging widespread collaboration.

Now we see that over 60% of startups and young businesses are working together to find new customers too, because it can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to grow a business. We see them running events together, promoting each other, even co-creating completely new products together. All because they can achieve more and reach more people, more easily, by working together.

The trick is finding the brands out there that already talk to the people you want to reach – not competing brands of course – but ones that you can collaborate with. And the likelihood is that if you want to talk to their customers, they’ll probably want to speak to yours too. Fortunately, in response to the increase in marketing collaboration, sites like Brand Gathering are emerging to help brands find other brands to collaborate with.

With that in mind, here are some of our top tips:

1. Be strategic about marketing collaboration

Identify what you want to achieve. Maybe you want to reach more people or you want to reach a very specific or niche group of people; perhaps you want to improve your brand reputation, or even reward your current loyal customers in some way. Like all good marketing activity, defining your business objectives will enable you to be clear about what activities you would like to do with another brand.

2. Think like your consumer

When it comes to choosing a brand to collaborate with, your consumer is the best place to start. What brands does your consumer group buy and interact with? What brands do they aspire to? Which ones complement your brand? Create this as your long list then start filtering…

3. Be true to your brand

The most effective marketing collaborations are when the very essence of the brands involved genuinely work well together. Whether it is having a common cause, matched brand values or a similar tone of voice, something must be complementary to make a successful relationship, rather than a superficial one.

4. Cash is not king when it comes to collaboration

There will always be a role for paid-for sponsorship deals, but we champion the relationships that are based on mutual benefit rather than cash exchanges. Don’t get caught up thinking you have nothing to offer because you’re small or don’t do much marketing.

5. Focus on the relationship to make it happen

Understand what you both want to achieve and agree your joint objectives upfront. If you get the right balance you will both want to repeat the activities again and again, which really pays back on the time spent finding, meeting and working together.

Join Brand Gathering – the online community where savvy brands collaborate – for free at www.brandgathering.com