what do you think of collaborationsWhat do you think of collaborations? I personally think they can be incredible. Collaborations were the subject of my first column in NFU Countryside Magazine, I’ve blogged about them a lot AND I’ve even made videos about them. Actually, I’ll be talking about another collaboration soon, but I digress.

In my Facebook group, I asked ‘what do you think of collaborations?’. Here’s what a few of the group members had to say…

What do you think of collaborations?

Sophie Callahan from Sophie Callahan Photography: ‘We can never have too many friends, especially as a business owner. We all have to work in this industry together and it helps if we can get along well with others. The more ‘friends’ you make, whether they are actual friends or just other brands that you align your business with, the better. And collaborations are a great way of forging new ‘friendships’.’ (Sophie’s written a great blog post about collaborations too – see it here).

Emma Warren from Hiho Silver: ‘Collaborations are brilliant – when you have common aims, are clear about what’s expected and try and make a point of giving more than you take.’

Emily Mumford from Inkpot & Press Media Services: ‘Collaborations can be the single most powerful marketing tool a business has at their disposal IF they are used correctly. Find someone with the same values and work ethic and you’re already winning.’

Karen McConnell from KA Equestrian: ‘Working with other brands, businesses and professionals has not only been hugely instrumental in building and growing my business but also inspiring, enlightening and great fun!’

Harriet Edwards – aka A Girl About Country: “Collaborations are really powerful, but only when they are mutually beneficial. Both (or all) parties must derive some benefit in order for it to be a success.”

Lindsay Robertson from Lindsay Robertson Photography and Country Meets Creative: “Like speed dating, awesome and can’t get enough with the right match!”

Ruth Chappell from Dressage Anywhere: “I love collaborations – I’ve only done a few and scratched the surface of what’s possible but they’ve been brilliant, whether it’s as simple as a blog post about another business or business owner, or something more detailed around products. It’s important to make sure you’re the right fit and have everything agreed (and written down if possible) in advance.”

Izzy White from Izzy White Photography: ‘If you find the right people, then it can work really well. I have had some great success from collaborating with fellow business owners. If you both benefit then I see it as a win-win situation. Provided you do your research and are honest with what you both want out of the collab, I see it as a great tool!’

Beth Hicks from Beth Hicks Photography: ‘They’re great when they’re with the right people with the same audience and similar aims, aren’t so great (and can be a bit of a pain) when this isn’t the case, especially when you’re putting in all the effort, hence why it’s so important to collaborate with the right people!’

Jennifer Dunig from The Equine Pass: ‘Collaborations were never something I’d ever considered when I first started out. I think it felt like I was asking someone for help or worse still, having to be a little less possessive with my “control” over my business but now I’ve actually ventured toward collaborations, I’ve realised that actually, they’re bloody fantastic for not only reaching a wider audience but making some great contacts within the industry that I otherwise wouldn’t have done.’

Danielle Crawford from Black Nova Designs: ‘Collaborations are a fantastic idea and when we first started out we did it a lot, just need to ensure you are getting the right contacts and pushing towards your target market.
Although saying that, we have achieved getting cheaper childcare by sorting the nursery Wifi equipment! People working together and helping each other out is the best way to do business.’

Hayley Files from Equissentials: ‘Collaborations are a great idea, especially as we do – with sponsored riders. However, it has to be mutually beneficial and it really helps if the riders you are working with actually buy/use your products to start with and have a relationship with you before the collaboration. It’s quite a challenging one to navigate, but when it works, it’s brilliant!’

Megan Allen from Rural Roots PR: ‘I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without collaborating with other wonderful small businesses; from joint pitches to just batting ideas around, as a solopreneur it’s vital to my business and my sanity!’

Wiola Grabowska from Aspire Equestrian: ‘I strongly believe collaborations are what makes running a small business with bigger projects not only possible but hugely enjoyable and rewarding. I find it a great challenge and a pleasure to figure out ways to help other businesses/individuals who work with me and when everything comes together well in the end, it’s wonderful to share the success with someone who cares about the project as much as I do 🙂 Last night I wrote final part of my reflections on one of the biggest projects I undertook so far and it would not be possible without sponsorship, wonderful support and collaborations with a few fantastic people. Collabs all the way for me.’

Anna Rainbow from Anna Rainbow Photography: ‘A few days ago, I couldn’t think how I might collaborate, now I’be been asked to take some images with the big C all around. Slightly fazed by bringing Christmas to a Hampshire garden in September, but so looking forward to doing something totally different and collaborating with a local 2* event rider who also makes crackers! The benefit for me – she’s taking my little man to his first event at Tweseldown in exactly one month’s time.’

Naomi Leach from NL Equestrian: ‘I think it’s a fantastic idea, a great business tool, and a really nice way to make new friends! The world can be tough for small businesses to get their name out there, so this is a great way to reach further afield and help a fellow business owner too. I’ve only done a couple so far but it’s definitely something I want to explore further!’

What do you think of collaborations? I’d love to hear…


How collaborations work between brandsI’m very excited to be able to bring you a real life example of how collaborations work between brands. Or, at least, how they can work when they’re done well. And, to make it even more exciting, WE HAVE A CASE STUDY. Oh yes. How collaborations work between brands using a real life example. The real life example uses Hiho Silver, who recently completed a superb competition online that allowed people to win a lovely prize each day for 10 days, to celebrate reaching 10k fans on Facebook.

How collaborations work between brands… and why it matters

If you follow this blog you will know that I am a big fan of collaborations. Why? Because they work. They generate feel-good for everyone involved. Customers win. Businesses win. And it doesn’t have to cost all that much either. What’s not to love? Collaborations can add lots of value to your brand, your followers and the company you’re collaborating with too.. so why doesn’t everyone do it? It’s simple, it takes quite a bit of leg work and often an ability to put your brand’s needs on a level to brand you’re collaborating with. For everyone to win. Everyone needs to win. But that’s a whole different blog.

Now, onto the case study – Hiho Silver

As you may or may not know, I am very proud to count Hiho Silver as a client and the people behind this brand as friends. Hiho Silver is interesting for so many reasons, not least because of the amazing exclusive country and equestrian jewellery designs they create. But more about that another time (or just follow them on Facebook or Instagram, or have a look at their website to see for yourself!). Another thing that is superb about Hiho is the company’s ability to fully embrace new ideas and work with others. It’s refreshing, forward thinking and is one reason the brand is as successful as it is.

ANYWAY. To celebrate Hiho Silver reaching 10k fans on Facebook, it was decided that we’d create a competition to thank the fans for their continued support. The Hiho Facebook community is a special one and gratitude is a theme that runs through everything Hiho does, and it’s always nice to have a reason to celebrate. As it was Hiho’s 10k, it was decided that one prize would be offered each day for 10 days. And that fans could enter on Instagram and/or Facebook. The entry mechanisms were slightly different (and native to each platform), but both options were there to give people maximum opportunity to get involved. So far, so good.

So, where does the collaboration come in? And how do collaborations work between brands?

Hiho collaborates with a number of brands throughout the year on a range of different projects, so it made sense to speak to some of Hiho’s ‘friends’ to see if they wanted to be part of the celebrations. Why? Just to get free stuff? No. It was more than that. The brands that Hiho collaborates with have been chosen because they have a similar target audience – ie – they make/sell products and services that the majority or a significant portion of Hiho customers would be interested in. For this competition, Hiho decided to speak to Annabel Brocks (who provided a stunning Contrast Leather Belt), Evemy & Evemy (who provided a Pluma Silk Scarf), Mackenzie & George (who provided a Chatsworth Belt and personalised keyring), Femmes Fatales (who provided a day’s shooting) and Fairfax & Favor (who provided a Pembroke Handbag). In addition, Hiho provided an Exclusive Hammered Pheasant Necklace, an Exclusive Spinner Ring, an Exclusive Cherry Roller Bangle with CZ Roller and a Leather Wrap with horseshoe or cartridge slider. So there were 10 prizes in total. And so it began. One prize a day for 10 days… and didn’t Hiho’s fans love it! Oh yes. And then some.

Did the brands involved benefit from the collaboration?

And did the brands that were involved benefit too – oh yes. Exposing some of their products to Hiho’s fans and followers (and their fans and followers as people frequently shared posts on Facebook even though this wasn’t an entry mechanism… because it can’t be according to Facebook terms and conditions). Hiho put together two graphics each day during the competition and posted these on its various social channels. In many ways it was a simple competition, but the planning to make the simple competition work was quite involved. Worth every second, but it takes time. To make collaborations work between brands – between anyone – you have to dedicate some time to the cause. And then the results really mean something. And everyone wins. Which is what it’s all about!


How collaborations workI believe collaborations can be HUGE for business. But just to be clear and help you push forward with your own collab, I thought I’d address how collaborations work. But not before addressing what a collaboration is.

What is a collaboration?

A collaboration is when two or more people or companies work together to produce something. This dictionary definition puts it a little more eloquently. You hear of celebrities collaborating with brands, bloggers collaborating with each other, influencers working with companies, and brands working with other brands. It really is as simple as that. Sometimes companies pay for celebrities and influencers to work with them, and sometimes it’s free. It depends very much on what the collaboration entails. What is key, well, in my mind at least, is that EVERYONE wins from the collaboration. Everyone’s efforts are rewarded. Everyone’s time is repaid. And everyone works together to make it a success. Collaborations are great. They allow you as a brand or influencer to spread your reach and be introduced to other people who might be interested in you, your products and what you have to say. Well. This is if you choose well. But that’s a whole different topic.

How do collaborations work?

I’m confident in saying that there is no one size fits all. I see collaborations popping up all the time in various different forms. David Beckham collaborated with H&M on a collection and the relationship grew from there. Youtubers regularly collaborate by appearing on other Youtubers’ channels – such as Tanya Burr and Zoella – yep – they’re pals, but they collaborate on the platform – actually, Zoella has a whole section dedicated to collabs here. Ed Sheeran (ohhh… I love Ed) collaborated with Rudimental on Lay It All On Me, and because I really do love Ed Sheeran, I’m also going to mention when he collaborated with Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley) on the video for Lego House. So, both parties win. Both parties get exposure to a different audience.

These are slightly random examples, I’ll give you that, but it’s to illustrate the diversity and the scope. But you know what else you could do? You could guest blog for someone and let them guest blog for you. You could organise a competition with another brand and you could both ‘donate’ prizes and promote to both of your fan groups. You could work with an influencer or blogger on a product that you’d maybe share the profit from. See. The options are nearly endless. And in all cases pretty exciting.

So, are collaborations easy?

They can be, or they can take blood, sweat and tears to set up. Even when they’re ‘easy’ there’s often a lot of leg work involved… but does that mean they’re not work it? God no. If both parties are pulling in the same direction and both enthused about it, it can be HUGELY rewarding and deliver exceptional return on investment…

If you’ve decided to collaborate with another person or business to help increase your reach and visibility, and you’ve chosen who to collaborate with, now you need to organise how this is going to work. Here are some top tips on how to do this. Here are my tips on how to organise a collaboration.

How to organise a collaboration

  • Think about what your objective is. Are you looking to grow your newsletter list? Increase followers on Twitter? Add fans on Facebook? Get more engagement on Instagram?
  • Are you looking to focus on a particular product or service? Or are you hoping to promote your entire offering or collection? Be really clear. Think of the point above when considering this.
  • Discuss what your collaborator wants to gain. This can have a big influence on how the collaboration works and if it’s going to work for you. If they want to grow their Instagram following, but you really want to grow your mailing list, you’re going to have to try and come How to organise a collaborationup with a good way to do this.
  • Think about your offer. And make sure it appeals to your fans and theirs. Competitions often do well, because who doesn’t love a competition? You could also look to offer a discount to your fans and theirs either at the time or at a later date, as a thank you for participating.
  • Be clear on your entry mechanism. If you want to grow your mailing list, you need to find a way to collect this information, if you want to grow your Facebook fans, work out how.
  • Make it easy. Whatever you want to gain, you want people to enter/engage, so make it as easy for them as possible. If you’re offering a discount code, make sure it’s easy to use. If you want them to join a list, make sure that they can do this in as few steps as possible.
  • Play by the rules. Make sure you competition conforms to all Ts and Cs relevant. For example, sharing as an entry mechanism actually breaches Facebook Ts and Cs. Yep. Honest. So do your research.
  • Create eye catching graphics. Whatever you’re doing, make sure you have eye catching graphics to promote it. And make sure that both people involved in the collaboration or happy/using the same graphics so people know it’s the same offer.

If you’re interested in collaborations, you might like this video on Youtube (it’s the cheese one!), or have a read of this blog here about how to find your collaboration partner. And don’t forget that if you need a helping hand my coaching service could be just what you need…

How to pick who to collaborate withHave you heard that collaborations could be big for your business? They could, that is, they could if you pick the right person or company to collaborate with. If you pick a company that isn’t ‘right’ for you, much like a dodgy relationship, it’s not going to work out. If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘who should I collaborate with?’ – this blog is for you!

Who should I collaborate with?

There are a few things to consider when you’re working out who you should collaborate with…

  • Do you have a similar customer profile? If you sell luxury country clothing, you want someone who has customers interested in this. If you sell fine wines or spirits, a company that is pro an alcohol free lifestyle is not for you. See what I mean? In order for a collaboration to work, you need to make sure that your fan base is interested in the person/company you’re collaborating with, and visa versa.
  • Do they share your values? If you’ve ticked the first box, now you need to make sure the second aligns. So, if your customers are anti-fur, don’t work with someone who uses it in their products. If you promote the fact your products are high end and made in Britain, someone who sells bargain basement imported lines is not a good fit.
  • Do they share your brand’s ‘feel’? By this I mean all the other stuff – the customer experience, the tone, the manner – the general vibe. If you’re a happy, friendly, personable company whose customers appreciate you going to the extra mile, a big faceless corporation might not be the best person to collaborate with.
  • What do each of you bring to the arrangement? A collaboration needs to work out well for both parties. If, for example, you’re running a giveaway, you need to make sure that both parties have a useful database/following on at least one platform, in order to ensure that the offer is promoted fully. Size isn’t always important, a very engaged smaller following can have a lot more value than a HUGE following of people who don’t engage or open emails. Of course, it doesn’t stop here. If it’s a giveaway, look at the product value, who’s giving the most in terms of time, etc.
  • Will your customers/fans benefit from the collaboration? This is a must. The offer you’re providing has to appeal to them – or at the very least not offend – because you don’t want a quest to increase your reach and following to alienate your loyal fans.

Here are a few pointers to help you decide who you should collaborate with – what do you think? I’d love to see your comments below.

A little while ago, I put together a video all about collaborations and how they can help your business – called how can collaborations help your business. If you click on image, you’ll be able to see the Youtube video about this. But as I know not everyone can view videos as easily as they can read a blog, I wanted to write it down too.

How can collaborations help your business?

Collaborations can be big for your business is SO many ways. They can help to increase your reach, add authority, add value, and strengthen your connections with different brands and sub communities in your sector. Of course, if it was just as easy saying you were going to collaborate, everyone would be doing it!

Who should you collaborate with?

Choosing who to collaborate with depends on the objectives of your collaboration. So have a think about that before you take the next step! However, in all cases, whether you collaborate with a brand or a person, make sure they align well with your business. All businesses have a ‘profile’, by which I mean an image and values that it’s important to maintain. So look for people and brands who fit this. They don’t have to be mirrors of yourself, but should have the same ‘vibe’ or ‘feel’. Why does that matter? Because if you’re looking to promote a service or product, the people who are going to be most interested will fit a similar profile. Of course, if you’re looking to branch out in another area, looking for something in your new space is a good plan, but make sure their key values match yours, because otherwise there will be a disconnect and wasted opportunity. You can collaborate with pretty much any business or individual if they’re a personal brand – the world is your oyster!

How much does it cost?

In many cases, depending on who you pick to collaborate with, the cost might be zero. Yep. Free (by which I mean not money exchanges hands). How? Because if you pick carefully and really think about what you’re doing, the company or person you’ve chosen to collaborate with can gain just as much, if not more, than you. Yes, if you’re running a competition, you might have to give product, of course, but ‘value’ doesn’t have to be in pounds, shillings and pence. If your offer or opportunity adds value to your collaborator’s audience too, everyone could win and no one should be out of pocket.

What do you mean, everyone could win?

The thing about collaborations is it shouldn’t be all about you. In fact, the best promotional opportunities I’ve ever worked on ensure that everyone gets something out of it. This means that everyone wants the collaboration to work well, which gives it an infinitely greater chance of success.