Collaboration is at the heart of shopper marketing, but is it more than just a buzzword or a feel-good thing we do? Can collaboration become a critical capability that will propel your team further and make you a more agile and fierce competitor? We believe it can.
There are many ways you can collaborate: within the team, across the matrix, or with external shopper marketing peers and retail customers. All of forms of collaboration matter to the financial and emotional well-being of your team. Teams that know how to really open up and collaborate with external organizations take it to new heights and enjoy a very tangible competitive advantage. Here’s why:
1. MAKE YOUR Dollars Go Further
Talking to the modern, distracted shopper along the fragmented path to purchase can be a costly endeavor. You can make your budgets go further by proactively networking with the companies that sell complementary products. Pooling funds and running larger scale campaigns will make the marketing dollars work a lot harder for you and for them. To make sure you don’t dilute your brand’s equity, look for partners in a similar price tier who will appeal to same shopper segments. Transactional sell-through reports that look at other items in your shoppers’ baskets can be a great place to start your research.
2. KEEP YOUR Shoppers INSPIRED
Your company may have great content, ideas and people, but as one Russian proverb says “One head is good, but two is better.” Diversify your ideas pool, and you’ll find new ways to please shoppers. By tying in with complementary products, you offer shoppers inspiration — to try new products, ideas for how to delight their loved ones with a new recipe or a reason to break the routine and bring excitement to their lives. To make it even easier to say yes to your offers, make sure to secure co-merchandising by building “solutions endcaps” or designing shippers that look like they were meant to be displayed together. Do you often drink beer with your chili? How about making it easier to shop for both by co-sponsoring a recipes campaign and merchandising them together?
3. Command Attention from Retail Partners
Imagine if you could elevate your conversation from a category level to a department, or a even a total store level? You could become a trusted consultant on how to activate an entire season or occasion with your retail partners’ shoppers. But your portfolio is not large enough to command this sort of authority unless you build a broader coalition of non-competing manufacturers who aspire to win the same seasons and occasions as you. This is a classic case when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By pooling talent, budgets and content, your teams can suddenly drive scale and compete with the industry giants. Now you can sell higher, to VPs of merchandising and marketing instead of category buyers.
4. Win A Seat At The Table
When you collaborate effectively and know how to combine a multitude of interests, ideas and talents into a win-win for all stakeholders, you will be a welcome addition to any marketing taskforce or aisle transformation initiative. Once a wise shopper marketer said, “The only metric I care about is whether my team has a seat at the table.” So sharpen your pencils and go practice co-creation, first on a small, category-wide scale, then gradually take on bigger, more ambitious projects that may involve multiple categories or even departments.
5. Enjoy Stronger Retail Compliance
Knowing how to collaborate, rather than overtly sell, to your retail customers will help you win better merchandising. When you approach customers early with a co-creation mindset, they become vested in your ideas. As a result, you are likely to get better ad and display placements, stronger merchandising compliance and wider distribution. So call your customer now, even if your plan is half baked, let them help you shape it and make their mark.
6. Attract Better Talent
Being consistently collaborative and open to new ideas will strengthen your team’s reputation. You will score points both internally and externally, and the good word will spread. Smart, ambitious, creative people will inevitably flow your way. Attracting and retaining talented people is one of the biggest competitive advantages of them all.
How Do You Become More Collaborative?
- Hire collaborators with an open mindset — use psychographic screeners to weed out turf protectors and controlling personalities.
- Empower your team — train them well, set a strategic course, then let them sail free.
- Proactively encourage collaboration— announce internal competitions to finds ways to scale your portfolio presence without incurring much incremental cost.
- Give your team tools to work anywhere the inspiration strikes — collaborative tech is evolving quickly and offers solutions for screen sharing, document creation, task management, messaging, video and much more. Proper technology will make it easy to capture and share ideas, build on them and implement faster.
- Share relentlessly — showcase your work not only internally but with peers, customers, vendors and agency partners. Attend conferences and seminars, reach out to industry publications to share your success stories. The more you share the more collaborators you will attract and the more opportunities will come your way.