Network marketing: The co-operative advantage

This section gives and overview of how your marketing can come together with Principle 6 of the ICE Values and Principles - co-operation among co-operatives.

All co-operatives should aspire to the International Co-operative Alliance Values and Principles. Principle 6 is about co-operation among co-operatives, and encourages co-ops to work together and help each other. This has the potential to provide a huge advantage to co-ops in terms of marketing.

Our colleagues at Principle Six have developed an approach to co-operative networking. They are also leading The Hive's skills training course on Marketing.

Step 1: The 60 second pitch

This step is about how you introduce your co-op to other co-ops and social businesses. You need to be able to convey exactly what your organisation does very quickly and in a way that is easy for someone else to remember and to repeat:

  • Your name, your business
  • Where you are (geographically)
  • What you provide (services, goods, etc)
  • Why people should buy from you
  • Who you want help connecting to

Step 2: Making a referral

This is a two-way process, and you need to be willing to help other co-ops connect, using the information you have from their 60-second pitch.

  • Who can you help?
  • Who can you introduce them to?
  • How strong a referral are you able to give? Eg 1) just a name, a phone number and the promise to make a connection; 2) a personal introduction and testimonial to the third party; 3) you are in a position to conclude the business!
  • Make the introduction as soon as you can.

Step 3: Referral networking code of ethics

The above isn’t complicated – it’s just about helping other co-ops in a professional and efficient way. However, when you undertake to do it, you should bear the following in mind:

  • Take responsibility for following up on referrals you receive
  • Be truthful with the members and with people to whom you are referred
  • Be honest in promoting your business and its products or services at a level of quality and cost you are able to deliver
  • Build trust among the members
  • Display a positive and supportive attitude with network members
  • Live up to the highest ethical standards of your trade or profession.

Co-operative Skills Training 

The Hive offers training on marketing for co-ops. If you're interested in hosting or attending a course, find out more.

Updated: 11/01/2018