Just ten years ago, Facebook did not exist. Communication was primarily one-to-one, and marketers focused almost exclusively on mass communication to a mass audience. The last decade saw swift change and technological growth that marketers are just beginning to put into the right angel; not only change in communications, but in empowerment, permitting consumers to influence and take co-ownership of brands.
The conjoint theme across all of this change is an evolution towards alliances, relationships, partnership and Collaboration. The future of marketing is a future where brands must market “with” consumers, not “at” them, thinking advantageously about inviting consumers into the marketing process. The days of tossing products and services on customers are way behind us. Today’s customer is educated, conversant and equipped hence demands an alliance and not dismisses the isolation.
A Collaborative Marketing Future is not in “work in progress” mode. It’s a reality already set in motion, one that is consistent with consumers’ innate tendencies to share and contribute. It’s a future where the companies that are closest to the buyers, use and advocate for their products win.
What is Collaborative Marketing?
Web definition A broad term used to describe a wide variety of partnerships — retailer and product manufacturer, product manufacturer and product.
One of the first definitions of “collaborative marketing” was developed by top management consultant and author of The Power of Pull, John Hagel.
In 2006, he described the major shifts in business moving:
FROM CONVENTIONAL MARKETING BUILT UPON THREE “I’S” TO “COLLABORATION MARKETING” DEFINED IN TERMS OF THREE “A’S”
The evolution of marketing towards collaboration
The first ever recorded advertisement was placed in a Boston newspaper in 1704. For the earlier 300 years, the formula was bumpily the same – mass marketing messages to mass audiences. This was the main means through which consumers discovered new products and services. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet, and more recently transmuted social technologies, began to change the primary fundamentals of how companies market their products.
In 2006, Facebook opened its doors beyond teen agers and college goings, and the next year Twitter’s growth exploded. The arrival of social technologies brought about a new era of real-time communication where anyone could share anything with the rest of the world. This began what we have termed the first stage of social marketing, Social Listening. Marketers were able to listen in consumers’ conversations about their products for the first time with great ease. This definitely opened up the market for social listening tools market.
In 2008, Facebook launched the brand page and pressed a tournament for marketers to gain more and more fans. In turn, the second phase of social marketing was launched: Social Management. Many Platforms emerged to help brands acquire and manage these fans, perform and utilise social listening and data.
Marketers built large social databases, and the challenge became how to best leverage social communities to drive real, bottom-line value. These platforms help companies to convert the gold mine of data into valuable information.
Now, we are entering the third phase, Collaborative Marketing. The need of the hour for the companies is to market with, not at, their most loyal customers. By providing these consumers with a special seat at the table with their favourite brands, consumers will generate an endless supply of penetration, ideas, acumen and content on the brands’ behalf. Perhaps even more importantly, these customers will serve as an essential broadcasting channel for delivering a brand’s message to relevant audiences. Customers are the new brand ambassadors now, rather the most and only accepted ones.