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Can't We All Just Get Along?
When you think of yourself as an IP, you probably think of Superman or Wonder Woman or the Incredible Hulk. In short, you imagine yourself as one of those proud, loner-type heroes, saving the world monthly through the sweat of your individual effort.
But imagine how many more people these superdudes could reach if they banded together and marketed themselves en masse. Superman could use his position at the Daily Planet to finagle some cheap ad space, Wonder Woman could use her magic bracelets to bounce words of praise from past clients to current prospects, and the Hulk could pop the heads off competitors like dandelions. And imagine, just imagine, if the members of this group joined forces with their nemeses, such as Lex Luthor and Abomination. IP world domination! Bwa ha ha ha ha!
Ahem. As I was saying, co-op marketing can help IPs market themselves in ways that they would never be able to afford otherwise, thus allowing them to compete more effectively against the cut-rate, third-world corporate competitors like Afghani Consulting, Inc. and Sudanese Songwriting Associated that are currently threatening today's IPs.
Thinking about pairing up your super-breath with a comrade's to blow down the competition? You have two ways of going about it: You can band together with IPs in different fields, or you can make peace with your competitors and work for a higher cause.
All for One...
Cost for most IPs to create a brochure that doesn't look like it was cranked out of some freeware program: untold hundreds of dollars. Cost for IP corporate writer Maerwydd McFarland: zilch. McFarland spent nothing but her time as she worked together with a graphic designer, a photographer, and a printer to create a four-part brochure that touted the abilities of each.
Says McFarland, "The photographer gave me copies of hundreds of his stock photos. I selected an interesting and varied grouping and proposed two treatments." After the group settled on one idea, she developed it and wrote text to match specific photos. The designer added her own flourishes, and then everyone tweaked and tinkered with it until it was finally perfect. "None of us could have afforded to do it solo," says McFarland. Not only that, but each IP mailed the brochure to every client on his or her mailing list, thus expanding each IP's reach and bringing him or her that much closer to global domination.
IP writer/composer/producer Keith Snyder may not be king of the world (yet), but he's still delighted with his collaboration with IP actor/writer/director Blake Arnold, an effort that resulted in the film 1 is for Gun.
They had intended to use the piece as a calling card for film work, but it ended up opening doors all over the place. Not only did it win a silver award at the 1998 Atlantic City Film Festival, but the film also landed Snyder work as a Web producer. And when Snyder showed the film at a meeting with Symantec, the software company hired him to compose the music for Norton Disc Companion, a tutorial that shipped with Norton Utilities for Windows 95.
"I would not have been able to afford to shoot the same film on my own," says Snyder. "I do many of my own projects, but I doubt I would have had as much fun directing my first short film had Blake not been directing it along with me."
The Internet, as it does in all things, makes co-op marketing even easier for the lazy IP. If you don't already know someone, you can search for IPs with complementary talents on such IP directories as Aquent's Talent Finder, Freelance Online, or Content Exchange, and contact them to propose a co-op marketing plan. You can also suggest trading links -- another form of co-op marketing.
Selling with the Enemy
In her book Negotiate Like the Big Guys, Susan Onaitis stresses the efforts that big corporations have made to ally themselves with a rival. Continental Airlines and America West, for example, share resources that lead to profits for both parties, and Microsoft went out of its way to invest $150 million in archrival Apple.
If corporate devil Microsoft can break bread with its competitors, so can you. Heck, even a hellspawn like myself can do it. Last year, I forged an email group with three other corporate and magazine writers so that we could share leads. We've seen how writers who hoard their leads like farmers guard their daughters seem to be crankier and have less work, so we share the wealth. If a prospect asks Lisa to do a project that she doesn't have the time or expertise for, she sends it on to the list. If an online magazine keeps tapping me for lame marketing columns, I try to trick writers on the list into taking over for me (no takers on that one yet, though). Because we each have our own special way of uncovering new leads, the four of us always manage to get our collective foot in the door at new publications before other writers have even heard of them, and we've given each other thousands of dollars worth of assignments that we would never have found on our own.
If you want to start a leads list, open a closed email discussion list for free at www.egroups.com, www.topica.com, or www.onelist.com. You can have too much of a good thing, though, so keep your group small -- under 10 members -- because you don't want every IP on the Web to deluge your contacts with email.
You could also try a more organized approach to co-op marketing. Take Human Technologies International (HTI), a group of eight IP HR development consultants who combine their talents for the good of all. The group shares updates of client activity online and meets once a quarter to discuss their business and marketing plans. Most importantly, they all share referrals within the network. "Ninety percent of our business is referral business," says Ray Rood, president of HTI.
How can you turn the enemy into an ally? "Find people who have values and interests in common, and explore how to develop a relationship," suggests Rood. "Find someone you can meet with regularly, and figure out how you can pool your resources."
You can market with others and still be an IP. Follow these rules for co-op marketing, get together a group of superheroes of your own, and nothing will stop you in your quest for IP world domination.
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