Partnership marketing holds clues for collaborative success post-Brexit

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Tamara Gillan is founder and chief of Cherry London.

As a small business owner I was hopeful to see the business leaders letter ahead of the EU referendum with support of 1,280 executives to remain. I was not divided on the vote, I, like most business owners voted and hoped for remain majority but political opinion is not a mandate in marketing, so my concern in this article is how spectacularly collaboration failed throughout and what we must learn from this series of judgements and decisions that lead us here.

No matter what your opinion, history has been rewritten and with clear signals that collaboration started to waiver early on in the process be it with Cameron and his own party, discussion between the Government and Scottish voices and Europe not listening. We now face the world with lessons learnt and new rules to follow so we can tackle how to work better together in the future.

The greatest rate of progress and improvement comes from true collaboration, working together and determining a mutual outcome based on the complementary skills and attributes of several different and respected sources. These sources then, collectively, provide a superior outcome for each individual representative, be it a brand, a business, a service or the end user, better known as the consumer.

It is a noble vision. And one that requires a strategic approach. It necessitates a framework and an adherence to reviewing and measuring results. In other words, it takes expertise, respect and tenacity. Which of these three were missing in the various Brexit bust-ups reported in the media or perhaps more realistically, were any of these ever present?

Politics is the one thing that cannot be present in partnership marketing – as soon as it is then the collaboration is flawed. Another lesson for Brexit – posturing on any one side is a sure fire way to kill the dream. Let alone when the posturing becomes action.

In our world of marketing we do not focus on the differences between brands and businesses or highlight their unique selling propositions, we instead consider their points of similarity and connection and work with them to use those areas of alignment to create something they could otherwise not have had.

What this means is that the opportunity for a brand is expanded beyond the rigid remit of what they can achieve through their own paid, earned or owned channels. Immediately it opens up the potential of accessing these same channels for other like-minded, valued or targeted brands which translates to doubling, quadrupling or more, a traditional perspective.

And the communication is not one of promoting a service or brand based on the things we would like to say about them, it is based on what they do and why they do it – and from this perspective the consumer can make their own decision about its accuracy, relevance or importance. But the authentic nature of this voice speaks much louder than the rehearsed brand claims and carefully worded scripts of traditional advertising.

The UK public voted to leave the EU so now we must form new partnerships where there were old and negotiate to make a stronger Britain. Well, that’s the hope. We may, after several years find areas where this decision can show success and something better but this will only be at the expense of many more examples of businesses that need to relocate to be as effective, brands that will need to change behaviour based on affordability, consumers who will view the landscape through a more cautious lens and a world which is changing and moving ahead versus a country which is, at present, diminishing in status.

The referendum tested peoples’ belief in the partnership. The partnership was beleaguered by a lack of strategy and adherence to individual partner principles and values and it was short-changed by a meagre attempt at understanding and then communicating the issues but more importantly, the resolutions which would realise the benefits.

The EU needed a great partnership agency – perhaps that could have changed the Brexit outcome.

Tamara Gillan is founder and chief executive of Cherry London

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