Three tips to make your agencies “play nice”
A few months back I attended a BMA-Milwaukee roundtable discussion of corporate and agency marketers. One of the discussion topics I thought was particularly interesting was about agency collaboration. The corporate marketers on the panel commented on hiring multiple firms for different things and expected them to work in conjunction for the best interests of the brands they serve. As one might expect, there were some concerns expressed by the agency leaders on the panel.
Although we see evidence to suggest that interest in specialized, tactical agencies is turning back to a preference for full-service capabilities, it stands to reason corporate marketers will still believe there is a need to divide tactical responsibilities or brand assignments among a team of agency partners. That is their prerogative, but let’s make no mistake … no agency owner likes to see money going to another firm and no agency completely trusts their competitor. What’s a corporate marketer to do?
1) Establish the rules up-front and stick to them. Define clear roles and responsibilities for each partner (internal and external) and make sure everyone is aware of and has the same understanding of everyone else’s roles. Each player should have a crystal-clear understanding of what is in their area of responsibility, and what is not.
2) Clearly communicate the reasons why you choose to use who you use and why you value each firm’s contribution to your brands. This might seem a bit touchy-feely to some, but keep in mind that everyone wants to know what they are doing is important – and the reasons why they were chosen to do it. Giving this feedback will provide a level of confidence and comfort to each of the partners.
3) If one of your partner firms irreparably fails to meet your needs, give us a chance to discuss how we can help you. As a true partner, we are here to help when you need it and are in a position to quickly ramp-up to help fill the gap.
If you feel a team of agencies is what is going to be best for your brands, clearly communicate that and maintain a fair and open atmosphere. Allowing your agency partners to feel secure in their relationship with you will let them focus on serving you versus spending time trying to keep an eye on the other players, or protecting their own turf. Ultimately it is our job to help you to achieve your goals.