Microsoft, which runs both Office 365 and cloud storage system OneDrive, recently announced a collaboration with OneDrive’s competitor Dropbox. Rather than being counter-intuitive, their collaboration enables users of both the Office 365 and Dropbox mobile apps to use the two together by loading Office files straight from Dropbox or opening their files stored in Dropbox without leaving their Office app.
Both Microsoft and Dropbox issued similar statements, speaking of the benefits of collaboration and how, in the modern world, people require flexibility and simplicity as well as choice. By providing as much choice as possible by working together, companies can appeal to consumers in a new and more effective way. Your business might not be as big as Dropbox or Microsoft, but what can you take from their message?
Know your competitors
The first step, even if you’re not planning to collaborate, is to know your competitor. Promote your USPs to your target market – what can you offer that your competitor doesn’t or cannot? Rather than collaborating, if it’s not right for your business, can you offer everything that they do so that collaboration isn’t necessary? However, also bear in mind that Microsoft already offers a valid alternative to Dropbox but that the company is still realising the benefits of providing options for Office users.
Think carefully about working together
Don’t write a collaboration off immediately. Even those that might seem counter-intuitive or damaging might actually benefit both businesses, if you’re able to offer more overall to your customers. By working together you can share your customer base, which gives you access to your competitor’s customers for further marketing, and you can provide extra choice that your customers will appreciate and that might encourage them to continue to use your product or service. Don’t leap in blind, however – not all collaborations turn out to be mutually beneficial, so do your research first.
Effectively promote your collaboration
If you end up collaborating, make sure that you present that collaboration effectively in your marketing, both online and offline. The words and tactics that you use will influence what your customers read into the change, and if you don’t get the message out in the right places then the partnership might go almost unnoticed. Sit down with the relevant people from your company and from your partner’s company, to ensure that you’re sending out a strong and consistent message.