Agency Partnerships 101: The Recipe for an Ideal Collaboration
In the B2B world, we all play in one giant sandbox. Since mouse and Man helps businesses become more visible online, we often form agency partnerships. And we’ve learned a thing or two about how to make alliances work.
We are happy to share our toys with other businesses. That’s because collaboration is a necessity these days. So much so that the idea of competition is nearly a thing of the past. At least, competing businesses have undergone a radical transformation.
As it’s not uncommon for two or more marketing firms to work in tandem, it’s paramount to know how to work toward a truly spectacular end product.
Everyone will win. Assuming everything goes swimmingly.
Before we launch in to the recipe for the picture-perfect agency collaboration, let’s get the hard truth out of the way.
Why Agency Partnerships Fall Flat
Fact of life: sometimes things don’t work out. In business especially, the best-laid plans don’t always culminate with your exact vision.
A long time ago—years ago, actually—we wrote an article that described agency finger-pointing.
We defined that term and showed how to stop it. When something goes wrong on a project, isn’t always the other guys’ fault? We blame crossed communication wires and the lack of shared goals.
Pointing fingers won’t repair the problem. But clarity will.
How to Form the Perfect Agency Partnership
Strategic alliances put creative innovators in one room. Imagine that Marie Curie, the Nobel Prize winning physicist and chemist, teamed up with the futurist engineer Nikola Tesla.
If that happened, think of the cars we’d drive today. We’d definitely have heightened safety, if not flight itself. While this scientific coalition never happened (darn it!), you as a business owner can easily team up with another entrepreneur who exhibits complimentary skills.
In this way, you double your power. Moreover, you intensify your results.
But in order to do so, know that there are overlooked criteria.
Share a mission.
Moreover, get super freaking clear about what that mission is exactly. If you and another agency move toward opposing end goals, the idea of partnership gets squashed.
When you share a common goal, you can’t go wrong. This might become tricky, especially if the two parties remain unclear on the endgame.
Our suggestion: define the endgame concept early on. When everyone in the sandbox builds the same castle, you create stellar results. However, there must be absolute clarity about what that castle should look like.
Combine unique expertise.
Steve Jobs was an extrovert who was really good at talking to people. Steve Wozniak, not so much. However, these two industry titans both had unique but wholly complimentary skillsets.
They combined their strengths. They supplemented their faults. And if they didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this article on an Apple laptop right now.
When it comes to your strategic business alliance, success hinges on finding a partner who compliments your toolset. Think milk and cereal. Oreos and ice cream. Bicycles and water bottles.
Even if your partner works within your same industry, there are likely items in their wheelhouse that you don’t have. And vice versa.
Prime example: our pals and Banyan Creative.
They’re a marketing firm. So are we.
They make data-driven decisions. So do we.
They help businesses be seen online. Ditto.
Sounds like they’re competitors. But we like to think of them as partners…and not just because we like to ride bikes together.
And keep doing so. Really, I think that so many problems we have today (business-related and otherwise) boil down to a breakdown of communication.
Words are your friends, so use them. In doing so, you remind everyone involved in a project of what the big-picture goal is. And why it matters so much.
Seriously, when’s the last time you sat down and actually talked with somebody? Keep your finger on the pulse, and you can’t go wrong.
Imagine with no fear.
Agency partnerships aren’t worth it if there are parameters that keep you caged in. You may want to build a fence around your clients, but you don’t want to inhibit what’s possible.
Imagine with no fear.
Share your ideas.
When you combine skills, it’s great. When you combine imaginations, it’s even greater.
Create agile workflow.
There’s money on the line. This is business, after all. And when there’s greenbacks involved, that’s when everyone needs to pull their weight.
The old adage about work smart, not hard. It applies heavily to agency partnerships. For this reason, you need an agile workflow. Everyone does their part and thus everyone wins.
Tell us about whom you work with in the comments below. Oh, and if you want to team up to complete a project, drop Fred a line at email@example.com.