If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, why do most brands rely on the same tired old formulas in marketing by broadcasting identical content across TV, physical ad space and even social media platforms? A social presence is wasted when it’s used to talk at, not with people.

People want to get involved

These days, consumers have the power to make or break brands. They review products and create content, with or without the involvement or permission of the brand. They use social media to get their voices heard and even dare to share their opinions of your product offline, behind closed doors.  This loss of control has been a hard pill to swallow for some marketers but if we’re honest, they never really had control in the first place – peer to peer recommendations always have and will continue to trump all other types of advertising when it comes to consumer trust.

Forward thinking brands have embraced the opportunity to collaborate with their most engaged consumers, the impact of which can be seen across the entire business, let alone marketing plan.

So, how can brands use collaboration to invigorate their marketing?

  1. Embrace User Generated Content. In the opinion of Crowdtap UGC could power your entire marketing program, from end to end. Bathroom specialist Hansgrohe, although long established, had very low consumer awareness. By engaging directly with consumers, the brand increased its social share of voice tenfold. Incorporating this real life content into their branded content ensured they stood out in an otherwise very ‘samey’ category.
  1. Harness and power word of mouth. People are already talking about your brand, so why not join the conversation? Better still, why not enable it? By equipping engaged consumers with the inside track, tools to spread the word and importantly report back to you, you’ll drive quality awareness, with near zero wastage. All with an average ROI of four euros.
  1. Use co-creation to enhance innovation. Brands like Starbucks have seen how this can work well, using initiatives like MyStarbucksIdea to bring fresh insight into developing new products and services. Over the last six years Starbucks have actioned 300 ideas generated by the community – that’s one innovation per week.
  1. Accept that you don’t have all the answers! It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we/our colleagues/our team have all the answers, however as Tormod Askildsen, senior director of Lego community engagement and events acknowledges “99% of the smartest people do not work for us”. Listen, respond to and act on all feedback, good and bad and most importantly thank your loyal consumers for taking the time to help you build and future proof your brand.

Why collaboration works

It’s about investment, but not the financial kind. People who have time, energy and emotions invested in a brand are far more likely to choose that brand over another. People value brands that approach them as intelligent individuals who can make a contribution. They don’t value brands that keep yelling at them “we’re awesome, buy our stuff”.

For collaborative marketing to work, brands need to have an open mindset. They need to know that they don’t have all the answers, or even know all the questions. A collaborative approach to marketing could generate ideas and opportunities far beyond traditional means, if marketers are willing to let them.

The best part is that the biggest resource, your consumers, is already in place and raring to go. The onus is on us, the industry to be brave, to step in to the unknown, and do things differently.

Rebekah Mackay Miller

Rebekah Mackay Miller


Rebekah Mackay Miller is MD of collaborative marketing company, trnd.