Collaborate but be picky

As seen in AdNews on 22 May 2014.

Collaborating with businesses that already hold the keys to your target market is the secret to success, according to Wolf of Wall Street advisor Kerwin Rae. But be ultra-selective on who you choose.

Jordan Belfort, who was immortalised by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Hollywood film, gets his business advice from Kerwin Rae. And Rae was in town to share some of his tips at the AdNews Media Sales Summit this morning.

The unlikely business prodigy’s ADHD, dyslexia, absence of qualifications and six near-death experiences (starting with severed arteries after falling on a glass bottle while drunk at the age of 15, and most recently a massive stroke in 2009) haven’t stopped him.

He has built businesses up from start-ups to multimillion dollar enterprises, all through collaborative marketing.

“Eighty per cent of my success has been the direct result of collaborative marketing effort,” he said. “Regardless of where you are coming from right now, collaboration is the key to moving forward.”

With 12,000 commercial messages hitting each and every one of us every single day, people are expert at filtering out the noise, explained Rae. To get heard, you need to market collaboratively.

“Collaboration is also what I refer to as ‘hyper leveraged word of mouth’, and word of mouth is so powerful because of trust,” he said. “Collaboration is about finding a number of very key partners and forming great relationships with them, and getting them to refer you through desire and not obligation.”

Rae used the example of Disney partnering with McDonald’s back in the early ’80s.

When Disney was struggling with its marketing, instead of targeting kids, it targeted the decision-makers – the parents. And it knew that another corporation that had its target market en masse was McDonald’s.

And so the Happy Meal was born.

Rae branded it a “psychological compliance device”. Through the toy for kids and things like movie vouchers for adults, parents are persuaded to buy into both Maccas and Disney, plus the likes of Pixar and Dreamworld today.

“What makes the collaboration work?” asked Rae. “They offer consumers a high value, low cost offer – like 50 cent cheeseburgers. They offer that because they know when you go in the restaurant you will spend more. The magic ingredient is the up-sell. And the relationship works on both sides. It’s effective and simple – a no-brainer.”

Rae shared his seven steps to highly effective collaboration:

1.Identify your buyer patterns.
2.Identify the businesses that already have those clients. Don’t just approach any business that has a lot of clients. You need to be ridiculously selective about who these relationships are with.
3.Create an offer – something of high value that is of low cost to execute. It’s purely designed to get yourself into the sales pipeline.
4.You need an approach. Send an email or a letter. Direct mail still has a huge punch rate because people’s letterboxes are empty. Follow it up with a phone call. But don’t give too much information away – tension is the chemistry of sales.
5.Sell the deal. There has to be something of value.
6.Get an endorsement. The best way to get someone to do that is to blow them away – give them something for free that they value.
7.Drill it over and over. It won’t necessarily work first time.