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by Matt Manning

It’s tax time once again and the recent advertisements by H&R Block touting their use of IBM’s Watson technology are reminding me of how important strategic customer-vendor relationships can be. H&R Block didn’t need to mention IBM at all. They paid them for their work and IBM’s technology presumably worked. But by looking at their relationship with IBM holistically, H&R Block was able to:

  • spilt their advertising expense with their technology vendor,
  • give IBM an incentive to do the best possible job with their technology integration project, and
  • emphasize the forward-looking nature of their 60-year-old tax preparation firm.

In other words, it was an attractive win-win-win approach.

So what’s next for the co-marketing strategies that will be deployed by content, service, and technology companies? Bundles of complimentary information services with a unified log-in? Content by X powered by tech from Y? Those two scenarios seem certain but how about “Certified 99.9% accurate as of April 14th by Accenture”? Or approaches that add a social empowerment dimension (e.g., “This content was created by the East African Crowd Collective, using work to pull thousands out of poverty”)?

A recent tweet from crowdsourcing platform vendor WorkFusion shows where I think we are headed:

This oblique testimonial approach flatters the bank for embracing innovation at the same time as it promotes the value proposition of the vendor’s software.

When the decision to buy or not to buy from a given vendor is a close one, the vendor that helps you enhance your reputation can be a very important differentiator indeed.

posted by Shyamali Ghosh on April 17, 2017

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