Guest Column | July 30, 2019

Everybody Wins: Avoiding A Zero-Sum Integration Approach

By Erik Matlick, Bombora

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As scientific research continues to point to the impact that humanity has on the global ecosystem, it’s worth remembering that nearly everything we do has an effect — whether on the planetary environment — or on a business ecosystem of companies.

Just as with our planet, we also have responsibilities to our business ecosystems to ensure their prosperity and survival amid change. To some, the idea of business success elicits a winner-take-all mentality. But in our modern, interconnected technology and software ecosystems, there is no place for such “I win, you lose” business strategy that defined the previous century.

Thriving depends on adopting an “everyone benefits” business philosophy that encourages growth across the ecosystem and creates long-term value for customers and partners alike. To adopt this mindset within your enterprise, it helps to think about how to make your product more valuable and identifying and promoting mutually beneficial partnerships.

Increase The Value

The rise of SaaS and pure-play data and intelligence companies has given many businesses a wealth of choices of who to work with. In the advertising and marketing spaces, technology and data have completely transformed how ads are bought, sold, and delivered to consumers. Sales has changed dramatically thanks to new data sources and automation software. Regardless of your industry, there is likely healthy competition between platforms and providers.

Growing a business requires customers to understand the value that your software or data brings. A simple way to provide greater value to the customer is through partners, because no business can produce every product and tool that customers need.

Partnerships Become A Force Multiplier

A key benefit of a healthy partnership is that it offers an efficient way to promote your business. If the goal is to contribute to a thriving ecosystem where everybody wins, it makes sense to dedicate marketing effort toward promoting the ecosystem, rather than just your company. This means creating opportunities where your partners perhaps shine a bit more than you do.

Larger companies can use portions of their marketing budget to promote their partnerships with smaller companies. They also can handle joint PR efforts to give their partners a signal boost and highlight the value that the alliance brings to clients of both companies. When you have events, bring your partners along. Give them stage time where possible. The more you do this, the more they’ll return the favor. Any business that fails to put effort into promoting its partnerships is not being a good partner, and not taking responsibility for the business ecosystem it depends on.

Decrease Adoption Friction

Partnerships should also serve as the antithesis to a scarcity mindset. Controlling access to software and data may be good for revenue in the short term, but it’s not good for the ecosystem overall. It’s important to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to access and use your products and services.

Working with partners actually opens up new opportunities, because your partners may already have a relationship or be installed with a prospective customer. That potential customer can now easily access your software and data within their existing workflows. No customer wants to learn completely new software and interfaces every time they find a new tool. Continue selling your software and tools directly but facilitate growth across the ecosystem by minimizing the time, effort and friction it takes to access your tools, making life better for both partners and customers.

Sleep Better At Night

Finally, if nothing else, working with partners and adopting an “everybody wins” stance should feel better than trying to eliminate every other player in the ecosystem. Working collaboratively to grow an industry is a far more rewarding experience than trying to crush your perceived competition. Competition is healthy, but cynicism, mistrust, and a myopic last-one-standing attitude rarely lead to sustained success in any industry.

At the end of the day, every effort should go toward making your software or data widely accessible, easy to use and as widely promoted as possible. Partnerships make it easy for your tools to work within potential clients’ existing workflows, so collaborate freely and promote those strategic partnerships as much as possible. In time, you’ll contribute to a vital, collaborative ecosystem.

About The Author

CEO and co-founder Erik Matlick guides vision and corporate strategy at Bombora, bringing over 15 years in founding, board and executive management experience. An online performance marketing pioneer, Erik’s insights about the confluence of data analytics, media operations, ad serving technology and sales and marketing processes are the driving force behind Bombora’s unique value proposition.