Tip 8 - Advice for agencies looking for an edge - A clients perspective


"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." - Phil Jackson

Collaboration Looks Good On You

Once you've come to understand and accept tip number five, that there's no such thing as full service, it follows that successful agencies will need to learn to embrace collaboration with the variety of service partners that have been selected by your clients. You won't get a vote on who the partners are, the skills that the client has asked them to bring, or the degree to which each of the partners are engaged. 

To use a familiar metaphor, your client is the chef and your agency is but one of the important ingredients in the stew. In order for the dish to be as savory and satisfying as the chef intends, it will require an number of equally important ingredients and none of them can be allowed to overpower the flavor of the dish. Instead, each ingredient as it is added to the stew must enhance the flavor and bring out the best of the other ingredients that are added to the mix. 

Being willing to collaborate instead of competing is the secret to long term success in the new millennium. Collaboration is a behavior trait that reflects well on those who are willing and able to put their own wants and needs off to the side of their clients. Those who arrogantly or selfishly presume that they are the strongest partner or that they have more of the best ideas will not only be the biggest loser, but will ultimately kill the partnership between the remaining agencies. Consider the following suggestions for successful collaboration:

1. Clearly understand the goals and objectives that the client has established and the role your agency is expected to play.

2. Become familiar with each of the agencies that the client has hired to be part of the solution and their area of expertise as it relates to the solution the client is seeking. Help one another to be successful whenever possible.

3. Be curious and respectful. Open the conversation with the partnering agencies and believe that the client has hired them for a good reason... just as the client has hired you.

4. Create an environment for open communication and planning among the partnering agencies. Remember: None of you are as good as all of you!

5. Avoid staking out your agency's territory or turf. Remember that the money will follow the work regardless of where the idea originated.

Granted, collaboration can be much more challenging than a model that enables a single partner to exercise command and control. It's an emerging brand model that won't defer to an agency for strategy, creative, and implementation. Now, more than ever, the sophistication and experience of brand marketers has enabled them to lead the way and successful agencies are recognizing the importance of effective collaboration.

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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