Collaboration is a much misunderstood idea. Some unscrupulous individuals think it means finding someone who is willing to work for you for free, but in actual fact, it's about finding a partner who you can work together with as equals. When properly thought through and implemented, collaboration can be a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes.
Here are some of the ways in which collaborating could work for you, especially in the case of your online business.
Working Together Saves Money
One of the most popular and practical reasons to collaborate is to save money. For bricks and mortar stores, the appeal is immediately obvious; many would-be retailers pool together money to rent a premises which they can share, but for online retailers it's not as obvious. One way that online retailers can come together to save money is in advertising.
Advertising can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you're advertising somewhere where you're likely to get seen! Unfortunately, if you're a small business it can be difficult to reach the audience that you need to reach. If you had another business or two to come together and collaborate with though, perhaps you could afford that prime bit of advertising space.
In this instance, finding a business that compliments yours is the key. Perhaps you're a clothing brand and you'd like to advertise on Vogue, you could come together with a jewellery designer, a milliner, a leather goods manufacturer etc to create a striking image that features each of your products. Your business names can all appear together on the advert, alongside a beautiful image of the wares you have for sale. Many more people will see the advert than if you'd spent your percentage of the money in a smaller magazine, and traffic will be driven to your website.
Variety is the Spice of Life
In the example above, choosing collaborators in the same section as your business is vital to success, but that is not always the case. Choosing the right partner for your collaboration is important, but people sometimes wrongly believe that you should look only to businesses that are firmly within your sector, when in fact the truth is quite the opposite. Looking for a complimentary but contrasting company or person to work with can be the key to successful collaborations.
PokerStars recently launched a successful partnership with the UFC, a partner that is not at once an obvious one, but has proven to be a great choice. Their collaboration has helped each brand reach a new market segment that they otherwise might not have had access too. Both segments already demonstrate that they have a love of competition, so the chances of them sharing a love of their new found collaborators are high.
Another successful collaboration between two distinctly different businesses is the collaboration between Ikea and DreamWorks. In this collaboration, Ikea asked DreamWorks to create a series of short animated films to promote their new range of toys. The toys were designed to encourage people of all ages to play together, so working with a studio that both the young and old love was an easy choice for Ikea.
In this instance, both brands are already huge, but this creative collaboration allowed them to show their multifaceted natures to an even wider audience. It's a win for both.
Working to Inspire
Small business owners can often feel quite isolated; working in a home environment or even a small office can become a little lonely. Getting outside of your space and meeting other people in similar situations can really invigorate your brand again. Creative brands coming together to collaborate can often bring a whole new dimension to businesses.
Collaborating on one project together could be fruitful in its own right, you could save money or reach a new audience as above. One thing that you might not be prepared for though, is having a whole new outlook on the way that you work. An outsider finding their way in your business might spot novel techniques that you could use to save time or money. Sometimes, having a fresh face to look at the way you do business can really give things the shake up they need.