Peer-to-Peer Partnerships can Help us Thrive, in a Pandemic and Beyond
If there’s an upside to the current pandemic, it might be our newfound ability to collaborate more effectively, even when remote from one another. Through Teams, Zoom or WhatsApp, we have been obliged to learn the value of effective and deliberate communication, and I’d like to think we’re getting better at practicing it too.
But if peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing and a new generosity of spirit are now commonplace within internal teams, I was recently reminded of the benefits of extending the same ambition to our external peers, too. During a panel preparation session - amongst an admittedly non-competitive group of marketer panellists - we shared best practices, experiences with particular partners, platform shortcuts and tips on campaign management.
Maybe it was the enjoyment of meeting new faces again, or the sense that we’re all facing common challenges greater than those that might incline us to keep our cards close to our chests, but we all came away with fresh expertise, shared freely and earnestly, with no catches.
In fact, whenever I have seen it in action, I have been struck by the value that advertisers who sit in completely different verticals can offer each other. We gain a lot from sharing mutual pains and opportunities, or from finding alignments on pan-vertical challenges, tech and solutions. We thrive on the empathy and comradeship of others.
For those with the sole responsibility of managing a partner programme, those just joining the industry or old-timers adapting once again to the new, this pragmatic approach to progress could represent real growth opportunities. And right now, we’re going to need to focus on growth, even in the burgeoning digital world.
Perhaps, as lockdown eases, we can even incorporate some of these peer-to-peer partnerships into the ‘real world’ and change some of the chat to actionable insights, instead of the age-old argument of attribution. There has never been a better time to reach out to those in your network - such as LinkedIn contacts and industry associations - to keep up momentum and create a ripple effect.
While I’m not suggesting we all trade our greatest secrets with our closest competitors, there might very well be value in reaching out to form peer-to-peer alliances across the industry. We could do it in the name of an honest desire to raise standards and improve performance, or in order to create better connections for the long run.
In a sense, I realise that what I’m describing is something like managing partnerships, brought to life. In the multi-channel, always-on, increasingly digital landscape in which we live, partnership programmes can help generate awareness, trust and new customers. Expanded outreach generates improved results, alongside an expanded top of funnel. Different channels can share learnings and strategies, work together better and share the spoils.
In a challenged economy, it is critical to stay proactive. And as many companies who have walked a similar economic path have found, these uncertain times can offer unprecedented opportunities. With a foundation of transparent, trusting relationships, in which brands and partners set clear expectations, businesses today must focus on adaptability.
Consumers are talking to each other online and new markets are continuing to open. As brands adapt to a new set of rules - different from those of lockdown and certainly different to the ones that came before it - the need to collaborate will become more acute. So whether in our commercial partnerships or in our direct and indirect circles, let’s ensure we are sharing our knowledge as widely as we can.