Collaboration has become an established way of doing business with suppliers, channel partners and complementors. But, with a few notable exceptions, working directly withcustomers to co-create value remains a radical notion. As consumers have become increasingly empowered and demanding, marketing gurus have preached the benefits of customer-relationship management — essentially an “inside-out” approach to retaining customers based on the misguided notion that the company is the arbiter of the relationship and the customer plays a passive role. In today’s connected world, however,collaborative marketing — the valuable process of partnering with the end-user to maximize value — is the goal.Collaboration can span all facets of marketing, sales and support processes.Collaborative innovation occurs when companies tap into user expertise and integrate it into the business’s new-product development process. For example, Procter & Gamble created the “P&G Advisors” program that lets consumers contribute to product development — they try new items and provide qualitative feedback, allowing P&G to refine products and marketing plans faster and at a tenth of the current testing costs.Throughcollaborative design, companies can more deeply embed themselves in the design and development process of the end-user.