Linking up can make slim budgets go further for small and medium businesses.

What should small businesses that come together for marketing be trying to achieve?

Businesses taking these steps need to be clear on goals to ensure they have the same objectives and are targeting similar types of customers. For example, a joint initiative designed to appeal to families may not work so well for the youth sector. The brands also need to be complementary and have shared values so you wouldn't pair a high-end restaurant with a fast food chain, for instance. Most importantly there needs to be a clear plan with measurable objectives so any activity undertaken can be properly evaluated.

What can these collaborations achieve?

Joining forces with a like-minded business will make your marketing dollars go further. Sometimes the most unlikely pairings - for example, with a competitor or someone vertically related in your industry - can be the most fruitful of relationships. Not only are you pooling marketing resources, you may be able to package your services together to create a much more compelling offering.


Is this sort of collaboration common?

It is not as common in New Zealand as it is overseas, mainly because of the fragmented nature of SMEs in New Zealand. However, it's an area that's growing as people realise its benefits and as economic pressures mean businesses need to approach marketing more creatively.

Collaborative marketing is happening more in export sectors such as agriculture, tourism and the wine industry. Collaboration is often the only way for smaller companies to make an impression overseas when they only have limited marketing funds.

Do you encourage collaborative marketing?

Yes, we often do this on behalf of clients - particularly those who have limited resources to promote their brands. We always emphasise that any relationship needs to be carefully considered to ensure clear synergies between brands and common objectives and target customers.

Is there a role for trade or industry organisations in initiating marketing collaboration?

Trade or industry bodies already play an enormous role in facilitating this type of marketing.

We are seeing a lot of this partnership marketing offshore with their help. For example, NZ Tourism is key in bringing smaller operators together to sell New Zealand to key overseas markets. The same goes for export activity in the horticultural and agricultural sectors and the wine industry, where collaboration of effort and funds enables many smaller producers to raise their brand profile in offshore markets.

We're beginning to see more activity with local bodies and associations in the domestic market too, but although well intentioned, they're not always as successful as they could be.

Sound strategy and execution are crucial to achieving the results everyone is aiming for.

Victoria Butterworth is manager of marketing specialist Volom Brands.