In March, Johnson & Johnson and Merck formed a partnership to increase production of the COVID-19 vaccine. Typically these two companies are competitors in the pharmaceutical market. However, they both saw the value for the greater good to collaborate. While your business may not be on the same scale, or not as time- and life-sensitive as a COVID vaccine, collaborations can be an important part of your marketing plan.
Choosing the who, how, and when of collaboration
Deciding to collaborate is the first step of the process. However, you should consider several factors when designing the partnership or agreement to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
Who should you collaborate with?
You should consider collaborating with anyone who shares your target audience and values. The best partners have minimal overlap in audience so you can increase your reach. Values are more important than products because creative marketers can make unique collaborations work. However, misaligned values may not represent your organization in a way you want.
How should you build your collaboration?
Regardless of your existing relationship with your collaborator, a formal agreement is always helpful. It should clearly lay out the expectations of each side in a mutually beneficial way. While building your collaboration plan, you should identify your goal whether it is building credibility, increasing exposure, or something else.
When should you collaborate?
A great time to collaborate is at launch. The goal at that point is to build awareness by targeting an existing base (of your partner). Another time to consider collaborations is when you need more resources whether it is time, money, or expertise. Whether you want to split the cost of an ad buy or you need some graphic design support, collaborations can help balance your efforts. Or like in the case of J&J and Merck, the right time is when a collaboration benefits your community.