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Collaboration – exploring the role of intermediaries in the marketing mix

The role of intermediaries and distribution channels seems is often neglected when considering the marketing mix, yet these channels can assist in achieving marketing objectives, including reach into target markets and value adding of client based solutions.

Collaboration and the fostering of partnerships applies equally to business, not-for-profit organisations and government. Collaboration, however, will not work effectively when it is poorly defined. When this occurs collaboration can quickly become in effect a client/supplier relationship or a partnership in name only, with the terms being one-sided.

The latter is surprisingly common in the not-for-profit sector, causing sector wide advocacy to become splintered, limiting reach and effectiveness. As a result, the not-for-profit sector lacks the industry wide voices that exist for businesses, whereby fierce business competitors will work together through associations to advocate on common issues, delivering a unified voice to government and other stakeholders.

All partners need to have a shared understanding of how each participant will deliver mutual value, meaning there should be alignment between the respective marketing plans. Ensure that each partner understands the desired outcomes, as well as timeframes and the resources that will be provided to work towards these results.

Collaboration can fail at all levels. The recent referendum in the UK, with the majority of voters indicating a desire to leave the European Union, is an example of where the perceived value of the collaboration did not meet expectations, despite economic evidence to the contrary.
Be clear on the purpose of the collaboration and what you aim to achieve. Make sure all partners understand that they need to invest resources into making collaboration work and that they have a genuine understanding of the need for shared success.

Ultimately the aim is to grow the pie, rather than fight over crumbs. Any collaboration that spends time fighting over what they currently have, rather than working towards what they should be achieving, is not going to deliver clear value.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Ken Grant says:

    Yes I thoroughly agree, collaboration in marketing is an essential element for success. I often think marketers miss the opportunities by not developing marketing plans specifically directed to such important channels as, major retailers, distributors, resellers, wholesalers and/or agents.

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