Lessons in Collaboration

We at Blue Shoe value collaboration, perhaps more than any other marketing tool. With like-minded brands. With the people inside your company. With synergistic brands that mesh well with your brand in that they seek the same demographic customer base and offer a product or service that meshes well with yours. Over the years we have urged many brands to think collaboratively. Victoria's Secret putting Hershey's Kisses in their lingerie boxes around Valentines's Day. Who would have thought that Weight Watcher's salad dressing would work at McDonalds? Brands elevating brands. Brands introducing their coveted customer base to other brands, carefully chosen to offer value to that client.

I happened to see this video of Bob Dylan's classic My Back Pages performed at the 30th anniversary of Dylan's something or other. Talk about brands coming together. George Harrison. Tom Petty. Bob Dylan. Roger McGuinn. Neil Young. Eric Clapton. And the list goes on. Take a moment and watch for sure.

Here is the thing. Each of those coming together in this video are the best in the music business. They are brands (ok, and bands), big brands, in their own right. They came together to play this great historic tune, and the joy of playing together is palpable. You can see it. You can hear it. The way they move out of the way for each to come to the forefront to sing their verses. Watch Clapton walk to the front and then head back behind Dylan, who we all can agree deserves center stage. Lyrics that talk about 'phony jealousy,' come forward and the chorus of everyone singing and playing together is perfect. Watch them grin at each other. Watch them not rush each other. The song is the best it's ever been - because of each of them individually added together.

Do not for one second think there isn't a business lesson here. Surround yourself with the best - better than you when you can - and then play your symphony. Own your own right to be the on stage with the others. But do not diminish them or yourself. Sell your products. Sing about your services and remember that ego is the death of any brand. But false humility is worse. Recognizing that elevating the 'music' of what you sell will always mean your business will be the best it can be.

Oh, and remember to let your fellow band members play at the forefront. Don't second guess them. Either you chose well, or you didn't, and if you didn't, send them packing sooner rather than later. Make sure that every person on your stage is the best of the best. And, take a moment to listen to the music of songs like My Back Pages when you take a break in your day. Let the music of others inspire your own.

Christine Merser, Managing Partner, Blue Shoe Strategy

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