Shoptology Identifies 'Deadly Sins' that Limit Collaboration

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Shoptology Identifies 'Deadly Sins' that Limit Collaboration

By Tim Binder - 06/14/2017

NEW YORK — If you know anything about the discipline of shopper marketing, surely you are familiar with the term collaboration. And you probably think collaboration happens all the time. “Not so much,” says Shoptology’s Julie Quick. At least not in the truest sense of the word: “The action of working with someone to create something.”

“There’s an old saying: If I had a penny for every time this industry used the word collaboration, I’d be rich. But if I had $100 for every time someone actually did it well, I might struggle to buy you lunch. It’s something that gets talked about a lot, but it’s something that’s not really well understood or practiced.”

Quick, SVP, insights and strategy, presented alongside Shoptology CEO Charlie Anderson during a Shopper Marketing Summit seminar in March.

“Collaboration is good business, and it can create really big results,” Quick said. “But it’s about breaking through, doing something new or doing something different. It’s not a matter of matching a couple of companies. Working together doesn’t guarantee success.”

As shopper marketing evolves and the retailers and brands respond to the fundamental shifts in shopping that are occurring today, collaboration is increasingly important. But there are challenges: “Collaboration is not often owned as a discipline,” Anderson said. “It’s at least as important as any of the other disciplines in getting ideas to market, but it falls through the cracks.”

To understand the challenges, Shoptology recently talked with multiple industry-leading executives on the topic of collaboration. The agency identified multiple “deadly sins” that are committed and also how marketers can get on the “road to redemption.”

According to Shoptology, here are the deadly sins of collaboration:

  • Misalignment: You don’t have a shared goal and the desire to create something new. “You can’t start muddily confused and expect to get magically clear as the process goes along,” Quick said.
  • Self-centeredness: You hope to change your partner through collaboration, and your collaboration is really negotiation in disguise. “Just that attitude can shut down avenues that might lead to more creative or even bigger opportunities,” Anderson said.
  • Running in circles: You lack a process for collaboration. “It’s surprising how many people don’t have a clear roadmap of how to get to the finish line,” said Quick, offering Shoptology’s Co-Lab process as a way to help.
  • Stopping short: You won’t make the first move to invest, and you quit before you get to in-market execution. “This work is hard,” Anderson said. “Lots of things happen along the way. Make sure you have a champion at the right level. You need to have commitment and vision to bring this all the way to market.”
  • Poor self-reflection: You look at results but not the collaboration causes. “If you want to get better at collaboration, you have to pick it apart,” Quick said. “Did you bring the right resources to the table? Was the process built to yield something new? … It’s really hard to improve if you don’t know where your faults lie.”

For struggling marketers, here are Shoptology’s suggestions to get on the road to redemption:

  • Rethink your team: Model the collaboration you need from partners. “Are you bringing your best people, the right people?” Anderson said.
  • Center on the shopper: Make the shopper’s experience the common goal. “If we can help the shopper win, we can create a positive output,” Anderson said.
  • Flip the process: Engage partners differently for different outcomes. “Flip it from being isolated, uninformed, defensive and reactive to being included, open, creative and thoughtful,” Anderson said.
  • Plan for resources: Gather what you’ll need to execute ideas – the money/funding, the people/skillsets, the knowledge and the advocates.
  • Keep score: Balance your view of success. “Create your own. Somehow find a way to keep score so you know that you’re making progress,” Anderson said.