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86% of Top Marketers Say Partnerships Are The Key To Innovation

January 28, 2011

Don’t take my word for it. After a comprehensive global study partnerships and collaborations have just been identified as the most important ingredient to successful marketing and innovation by one of the most powerful marketers on earth – Beth Comstock, CMO of General Electric.

Even people as smart as this believe in partners. So why don't most marketers?

Beth Comstock, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer of US  industrial giant General Electric has just published the GE Innovation Baromoter – a comprehensive study GE conducted around the globe, interviewing over 1000 top business leaders across 12 countries in December 2010. Whilst local market needs and working with smaller, entrepreneurial businesses were seen as two further vital pillars of innovation it is partnerships were identified as the most important. Indeed –  86% of respondents identified that the process of innovation itself is about partnerships with third-party collaborations being ‘sacrosanct’ to marketing innovation. As Comstock says; “At GE, there was a time when we believed we could solve the world’s problems on our own. That’s just not how the world works anymore.” This is a modern, positive message that strikes a chord with me. One of the main reasons why I recently chose to launch my own consultancy – Benchstone was my realisation that many marketers would need to understand partnerships and alliances in much more detail over the coming years. Unfortunately, partnerships do still not comfortably sit with many marketers. As has been pointed out by Moss Kanter and others – too often businesses do not trust 3rd parties, are too rigid in their ways and reluctant to engage both personally and commercially outside of the ‘business as usual’. Partnerships are many things;  dynamic, powerful and challenging – but they very rarely amount to ‘business as usual’ and they are not quick silver bullets. In the GE research – 3/4 of top marketers and executives believed that companies would have to change their current innovation approaches to meet the challenges of the 2st century. As Comstock says; “For innovation to flourish, we must embrace a new innovation paradigm that promotes collaboration between all players – big, small, public, and private – fosters creativity, and emphasizes solutions that meet local needs.” Clearly the ability of marketers to identify, plan, nurture, measure and grow collaborations is going tobe just as important part of the toolbox as understanding the P&L, the customer numbers, the A&P briefs and the product plans.

See the piece at The Daily Beast here – A New Blueprint for Innovation.

Or to learn more about the report, see GE Innovation Baromoter

For more information, see Benchtone Marketing Limited.

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