Better Together?

So, summer’s finally over and we can get back to actually being able to reach people by phone instead of getting a breakdown of the dates they’re expected back from holiday when we call.  But as we dive in to Q3 with both feet, are we really focusing our efforts in the right direction? Traditionally Q3 is the part of the year when we get our house in order for the following year – putting a rocket under any projects that are lagging behind schedule and working hard to secure new business. With so much talk of growth – modest though it may be – perhaps there will finally be a new year to look forward to in 2014. But let’s not kid ourselves: it’s still going to be a tough, unpredictable, dog-eat-dog world out there and, in an environment like that, it pays to have allies when battling against strong competition.

In marketing terms one of the most effective ways to build on your strengths when fighting against aggressive price cutting and hungry competition is through affinity marketing. The principle is simple: by joining forces with another company whose product or service complements your own you generate cross selling opportunities and synergies across both businesses to the benefit of both companies and both sets of customers.

It’s an approach that many companies already use informally, putting forward the services of others that they have dealt with in the past when asked for a recommendation by their customers.  But what if you did this on a more formal basis? Actively cross selling each other’s products, packaging them together as an added value proposition for your customer base and rationalising your marketing spend with a joint tactical approach.

Affinity marketing is used widely in the consumer marketplace – think Persil and Hotpoint, McDonald’s and just about any Disney/Pixar film – but less so in the B2B arena where often information sharing is perceived as commercial sensitivity. The truth is, however, if done wisely, with a business you can trust and on an equal partnership basis, there is no reason that affinity marketing shouldn’t be an effective tool for B2B companies too.  The key is to consider the commercial advantages of working with another company rather than seeing all others in your sector as a potential threat.

So, as we enter Q3 with all the pressure that come with it, consider this: creating value for the customer is the best way to stay ahead in a competitive marketplace and what better way to do that than to enhance your offer without increasing your overheads?