Today’s emerging enterprises need to stretch every marketing dollar. Coop Marketing may provide a means to do so. A Cooperative Capitalism strategy, both parties can win, and create a synergy that might just formulate a long term relationship for profits.
These cooperative methods, or collaborations, will require a mix of marketing development funds, shared revenue strategies, or a combination of both. Take for example smaller, brand conscious parts or ingredients supplier collaborating with a major consumer goods manufacturer. This would be a way to gain market awareness by hitch-hiking onto larger campaigns. An example might be “Allgood’s (Major National Brand) New Cookie Monsters made with Aunt Bessie’s (regional supplier) all natural molasses.” Allgood’s foods already has market share, but wants to add to its brand as being “natural ingredients” or organic. They intend to gain an inroad to the organic market niche. Aunt Bessie’s already has some market exposure by selling directly through grocery and specialty natural food stores, but can create market awareness on a much broader scale, realizing potential to new markets beyond their existing regional base. It is likely to increase both parties’ gross margins.
For the small or mid-sized brand or strategic, niche provider that just can’t afford the massive national marketing price tag that a major brand carries, there now is a way to transform themselves into a small but mighty powerhouse by creating this strategic alliance and Coop-Market. The national brand gains new niche margins that they currently don’t enjoy, while sharing the costs with their alliance.
Clarity is Key
Partner, Co-worker and Customer meetings often boil down to an around the table discussion where no one has a clear idea of what is being discussed, who will benefit the most, what is the market niche being exploited, whose expense is who’s, etc. Clarity is not present, but the frustrations and questions loom. It’s imperative to be crystal clear on which niche (s) to pursue, what the objectives of the meeting are, who will be responsible for what, and so forth. It’s critical that you demand alignment and clarity on all of the success metrics, evaluative processes and the marketing message.
Your entire team has to sign off on this list of agreements; there is no room for guessing. Resources have to be allocated, so make certain you identify who will be the spokesperson for your side of the deal. Also make sure you/your team understands the resource load you’re willing to extend, and who will be the spokesperson for your side of the agreed to marketing plan.
Get your internal act together first before walking into any alliance meeting. Be clear, demand clarity from your potential partner. Align your values, justifications, rationalizations and most of all, exptectations.
Whose Really in Charge?
Everyone on the team needs to have a clearly defined mission. Whether it be sales, marketing, production, oversight, accounting. If you aren’t sure what strengths are present, perform an inventory. Apply those strengths into the strategy at their most valuable of positions. Coop-marketing is all about meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations. If you are the sales expert, be the sales expert. It does no good if sales works CRM in a vacuum. Make sure everyone on the team respects the fact that you are in charge, so be the leader of that mission. Get the support from those around the table to ensure your portion of the mission. Additionally, only primary team members should be doing the talking. Subsequent or subordinate team members may have thoughts, but they should express them in advance of the meeting to the “person in charge” or should call for clarification and call a side bar.
Be sure you know the potential outcome. Envision the end result and what you expect. Agree to agree that the customer is most important, and that taking care of that customer is paramount to anything else, even profits.
I’m Okay; You’re Okay
Get it right out on the table that both parties bring something to the table, and that both parties are “equally important to the other.” Feelings of superiority or aloof behavior will dampen the result, and make the cooperative venture a misery. Yes, the ingredient or parts manufacturer adds to the project, and no, the major entity isn’t in charge (unless you agree to that). For this to work, you have to have a seat at the table as a complete and utter equal, not just a tag along. Conversely, the deeper pocket isn’t there just because they can afford to, there has to be a sincere attitude amongst the players.
Being equal means common respect and opportunity for both parties, their respective brands and possible future actions.