Collaborative marketing: Values as they flow in systems

Poul Henningsens PH-Lampe von 1925

Image via Wikipedia

Let me start with a question: Who drives the design process of a product?

Most of you will be more likely to choose this answer: Research and Development unit.

Now, I invite you to think deeper as well as imagining the future. Is it completely true that product designer just made all of their product out of nothing? The smart and bright people who designed the product must have used a variety of possible methods to build the idea of a product. This ranges from sophisticated research method to the simplest imaginative and random decision we can ever imagine.

However, no matter which methods they used in designing the product, they have something in common. That commonality is the vision that the product will be acceptable and people will consume or buy or use it.

Here’s another note: The consumer are getting smarter. Well, maybe not all of them, not yet. But, the age of consumerism has teach them to be smarter about their demand. At first, we need to understand consumer needs, Then, we have to learn about their personality and emotional affinity, since we found out that people are not always consume based on their needs. Consumption, is about want. As we mover further, we realize that what people want is a very dynamic concept. Now, we learn that consumer has becoming more and more difficult to identify and classify. Some say, there are no more loyal customer.

I think that’s because of the consumer are getting smarter.

image by mthink.com

We have witnessed many effort in increasing consumption in the last several decades. The result were higher consumption. But, it is also increase people’s awareness that as consumer, they have the power to dictate the producer. The dynamic between producer and consumer has becoming more as two-ways push and pull, and less one-way providing. The market has evolved significantly, and as consumers transform themselves into systems; we are approaching the era of collaborative marketing.

A recent discussion I had with a friend made me realize that in Indonesia, collaborative marketing is still sensational arguments, but not yet as an essential alternative framework for the future marketing strategy. Sometimes, this concept is even twisted. This is actually not surprising, considering that collaborative marketing is an application of systems thinking.

ystems thinking often times are twisted too, as many people think that it’s about thinking in systematic manner. Systems thinking is about thinking in a whole-system framework, by understanding the paradoxical relation of  all components. Collaborative marketing is about engaging consumer as the driver of any production, and about managing their active involvement in the business process.

Any effort to understand collaborative marketing requires an understanding on collaborative inquiry. It is not just another model of marketing. It’s a different framework of marketing. I identified at least eight key points in collaborative marketing, which distinguish it from previous marketing framework. Values, in today’s increasingly complex society, is a more of creation than claims. Values are result of learning and negotiation, and therefore it is a dynamic state and consistently changing. The power of consumer and producer are getting even. Values are more and more resulted from a continuous and dynamic negotiation between the two.


The key ideas in collaborative marketing is engagement. Engagement is about new strategy in product development. This is the central idea of collaborative marketing. This has its own consequences. Product development process and user communities should be within a single feedback loop. This will give a continuous information and verification about how well the product will be in the market. Product development is not merely a production process, but also a continuous pitching process, which will help the product evolve along with the market evolution.

While this strategy may not come to our attention easily, the existence of user communities is more easily spotted. The increasing cumber of user communities are a central instrument of collaborative marketing strategy. Their interaction and activities generate all type of information necessary for the product’s further development. In many cases, the results can even be a almost-ready design, which high sense of belonging among the customer. The reason is simply because it’s theirs.

They are users, and they are part of the designer.

8 responses to “Collaborative marketing: Values as they flow in systems

  1. I once read concerning this. I believe the official concept is “prosumer”, namely the dynamic combination between producer and consumer. In the process, there is no real distinction between the two, because the consumer is producing their own goods, and the producer also consuming their own goods. This also happens in the level of values and principles.

    However, I think there are some conditions that have to be fulfilled, before this concept can become reality. I identify three conditions.

    First, the consumer have to be creative and have the drive to engage in the creative process of production. Two, the producer have to be quite open for the wild ideas from their potential consumer. And three, the basic systems, such as politics, economic, certainty of law, and even culture, have to support this whole process of creating and consuming. Without the certainty of law and politics, it is impossible to make all of these great ideas become reality.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have any here in Indonesia. 

    • Well, actually, collaborative marketing is not as ideal as prosumer. As you said, prosumer is basically a self sufficient producer-consumer. In collaborative marketing, both sides are still different, but intertwined in the product development. The production is still in the manufacturer side, while the consumer is still a consumer, with a deeper access in the production through product development.

      Therefore, since it’s not that utopic, it’s actually work in different business in Indonesia. The closest example is wordpress, in which most user are actually contributing continuously in the development of the wordpress product. So do mozilla firefox, joomla and openoffice. I actually took part in as user-contributor for these four, until recently. Windows, through its beta version, is actually using the same approach. Some fashion producer also use collaborative marketing, with a bit different methods.

  2. Thinking about collaborative marketing today and it’s sustainable growth, I think the main point is solution (solution is defined as integrated products & services provided by a vendor based on customer’s requirements). Why?
    1. Customers has their own specific needs. That’s why they need solution based on requirements
    2. Customers always choose the best solution that offered by multiple vendors, at least three vendors.
    3. Vendors business operation orientated on their competencies to provide solution

    Since not every vendors be able to provide complete solution for their customers, they start to merge with contract to provide the solution. This is the basic concept of collaborative marketing today.

    • Yes Glenn, that’s exactly what collaborative marketing is about. Customization is the essential idea in collaborative marketing. It seems that you have tried this at your organization, or at least see how it was used. Would you like to share with us, if that’s OK?

  3. Well, I will share my experiences at one of national scale private company. As a documents & IT Solution company, we always meet customers with different needs, so we must provide different solution for each customers based on their business requirements.
    One thing that we concern is our customer satisfaction. Why? we know that every customer have different responses for every provided solution and services. The main point is here: if customers unsatisfied for a provided solution, they have a typical tendency to tell everyone they know that our solution disappointing, and this condition will trigger bad effect for our business sustainable growth, including our image. That’s why we always provide the best solution as we can to satisfy our customers. Speaking about limitation, I’m sure that every organization always have weakness points, that’s why we need preferred business partner to help us provide the best solution & services.

    From my description above, I can tell you that our collaboration with our preferred business partner we can successfully provide document & IT solution for our customers with high satisfactory result. We know about customer’s satisfaction rate because we have customer relationship management. We always maintain our relationship with our customers & business partners, and from this mutual relationship, they recommend us to their relation. That’s why they always become our valuable customers.

    Talking about revenue & productivity, we can gain our yearly profit up to 400%. This means that our competencies have increases in the line with our sustainable growth. More sustain of an organization means higher revenue, productivity, and customers trust.

    I hope that this little sharing can give us new dimension to looking a collaborative business operation, not only for marketing, but how we manage our collaborative business operation with our business partner.

    If You have another type of collaborative business operation, please post them, so we can share & learn together.

    • Yes, that is one good example. The emphasis on direct relationship with the customer, and involving their different responses in the product development.
      How frequent you provide customization for your product?

      Sure, I will post again about collaborative system. It’s becoming more common practice in today’s world, despite all the challenges, and its discontent.

      • As an IT consultant, I always meet customization since every customers have their own specific requirements. So, I always provide customization on every project to meet customer’s specific requirements.

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