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What Are Collaborators?

Collaborators are any third parties that work directly with your company to support or assist in the development or execution of a strategy. Some common examples of collaborators include vendors, warehousers, and consultants.

Who Are You Working With?

Collaborators is one of the categories of the 5C Analysis, a situation analysis framework meant to account for all of the factors that impact a company independent of themselves.

It’s important to know who your collaborators are, not only to understand in which ways your company can extend its business, but because any marketing you do could have an effect on their companies or your relationships with them. As with your customers, you should strive to create as much value for your collaborators as possible.

What Are The Types Of Collaborators?

Generally, there are four types of collaborators:

1. Agencies

Agencies act as intermediaries and facilitators, connecting companies with other peoples and companies with skills they may need. An employment agency may provide a company with administrative staff, whereas a marketing agency could handle all of a company’s promotional needs.

2. Distributors

Distributors are responsible for a company’s supply chain. Not only do they maintain relationships with suppliers and vendors, they also house and facilitate the shipment of the company’s product.

3. Partners

Partners are any individuals with a formal interest in the success of a company. While all collaborators can be thought of as partners, this group specifically refers to business partners with a legal agreement in place.

4. Suppliers

Suppliers contribute not only the materials to make a company’s product, but as manufacturers are considered a supplier, they may create the product itself.

In defining your company’s collaborators, you also need to assess them for capability and commitment. A collaborator being unable to offer the support you need can have a serious impact on your operations, so it’s best to determine a collaborator’s capacity beforehand.

How To Find Collaboration Opportunities

Every company typically has a core group of collaborators that ensure their continued operations, but collaborating with companies outside of this scope can surprise and delight existing customers, as well as attracting a new customer base.

Apple and Nike have worked together extensively over the past twenty years on what has become Nike+, despite making different products in different industries.

Companies may also look to collaborate on projects that have a meaningful impact.

In recent years, General Mills has partnered with The Nature Conservancy to plant trees in the United States, and with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to distribute seeds for bee pollination. While both of these initiatives had strong brand synergy through Nature Valley and Honey Nut Cheerios respectively, the desire to collaborate for a better world doesn’t always need to be a positioning statement or a marketing activity.

While every company needs to be efficient and operationally sound to survive, opportunities to add value will be more difficult to find if a company doesn’t look beyond its day-to-day operations.

If there’s some overlap between your company’s offering and one from a company in a different industry, reach out to them. Not only will you learn a lot, you may find that you can accomplish more together than you ever could apart.

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