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Collaborative Marketing: Converting Customers to Fans

Lars-Thorsten Sudmann
Mar 11, 2020 7:00:00 PM

Traditionally, brands are developed behind closed doors and pushed with huge communication effort top-down into the market. This strategy makes it somewhat challenging to convert customers to fans. In the digital age, maintaining an eye-level dialogue is a prerequisite to benefiting from the collective knowledge of your customers.

  • Genuine collaborative marketing efforts promote customer- and brand loyalty by converting costumers to fans.
  • Collaborative marketing succeeds where businesses communicate with customers, users and other stakeholders on an equal footing.
  • An important variant of collaborative marketing is the cooperation of providers with a similar target audience, complementary products and compatible values. This relieves marketing budgets and increases outreach.

Building loyal customer relationships has always been an essential goal of any business, as highlighted in the fundamental marketing principle of ‘keeping customers is cheaper than winning them’. Fortunately, today's customers have vast digital support in addition to a company’s website at their disposal, including social media serving as communications channels. However, these are only effective if marketers do not apply a top-down approach. Company accounts that only post advertising messages are not very popular with social media users, especially when critical comments are quickly removed.

By the same token, digital media can be used to involve customers in the development of brands and products genuinely. Video games producers have been doing this for some time now in particular. They do not just program complex games but invest much time and large sums of money in their fan base to benefit from crowdsourcing. Companies such as Apple and Microsoft now benefit from Open Innovation concepts. Tech and IT companies are not the only ones to involve their active customers. Swiss food company Maggi sets an excellent example in a completely different sector by improving its products with the help of over 5,000 cooking enthusiasts on the internet.

"Acquired Fans" Save Customer Relationship Management

It is no surprise, then, that a range of specialised collaborative marketing agencies has sprung up. The company trnd based in Munich (Germany) provides its clients with the perfect target audience for new products based on over 1.7 million members across Europe. These “acquired fans” spare advertisers the tedious work of managing customer relationships. Whether this will lead to genuine acceptance in the market remains uncertain.

Another equally interesting variant of collaborative marketing is the cooperation of companies whose products and services complement each other well. For such a marketing approach to succeed requires client companies to bring the right attitude to the table; shared values ​​and similar objectives are beneficial in any case. Where it succeeds, this approach can significantly save on marketing budget and at the same time achieve a more comprehensive target range. All kinds of successful advertising associations are based on the principle of co-operation of complementary providers, such as tourism and location marketing. Successful collaboration between stakeholders will not, however, relieve these companies from actively engaging with their customers. After all, it is about finding out what their real needs and goals are and creating a lasting fan base. This is the only way to creating both a genuine and successful brand.

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