Let’s face it, the first thing everyone does when they create a marketing plan is look at their SWOT analysis. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It is essential to know what all of these are because they help clarify what it is you offer and to whom. But I’ve noticed a massive shift in thinking since I qualified in marketing some (ahem) 20..ish years ago working for Big Blue (IBM for anyone under 30 before you Google it – they used to sell computers once upon a time). Where there used to be a mass of negative thinking about the competition (they might steal our business, let’s hammer them, we are better than them because…) collaboration is now key.
Never before has it been so important to embrace others in your industry. I’m a member of a number of collaborative business groups (Hampshire Women’s Business Group, Collabor8, and My VIP Card to name a few) and the most positive thing I experience from all of them is how much people want, and need to collaborate nowadays. We all want a piece of the pie but surely you want the piece of the pie that you like the most? Personally I want the sweet, flaky pastry. You on the other hand probably want that warm, sticky apple oozing from the centre. You see, I’d happily eat the whole lot but I’d most enjoy my favourite bit, that’s the bit I get the most satisfaction from.
So let’s apply this to the working environment, home cinema installations are a perfect example. Many a tradesperson could happily source a projector and screen, install the electrics, paint the walls, lay a laminate floor and present your ‘Home Cinema’. But you’d be throwing away money because it may look good, it may even be cheap, but acoustically it would be awful. And when the Home Cinema experience is all about hearing and seeing a movie in the way it was intended by the Director, you’d end up asking yourself why your tradesperson didn’t offer you a better service in the first place!
What a good tradesperson, an should be doing is the bits they are expert at and then use their network of trusted contacts to work with them. They will have built their network over time and, recognising when they are not the expert, will call upon someone who is to complete the project with them. First of all they’d build, wire and prep the room, then they’d use experts with years of experience and training in acoustics to design the room, source and install the ‘tech’ (because they’ll understand the attenuation, know where to hang the baffle, and will know whether to diffuse or deflect sound waves in order to decide which ends of the room should be dead or live). Then, the tradesperson will call upon an expert in soft furnishings to fit the carpets (which won’t distort the sound like a laminate floor) and install the right furniture. And at the end of it? A happy customer who can tell their friends about each of the experts they encountered, and projects which take less time for each expert and enable them to move on to other clients more quickly.
Collaborative business is where business is now – and to survive Brexit it may the only way for some companies. Let’s face it, we all have to work, and if you have to work you may as well enjoy what you do. Focus on what you’re really good at, what you really enjoy, and what you get the most satisfaction from. A happy by-product of collaborative working is that you’ll get more business. When you’re part of a trusted network you automatically widen your audience. You have access to your ‘team’s’ network, and they yours. It’s a win, win situation.
And most importantly remember, it’s teamwork that makes the dream work.