I’d love to have Crunchy Links be the only agency our clients work with. Being real, though, I know there are areas where we aren’t fully able to help. Often, this means we’ll partner with an agency our clients already work with, or we’ll help them identify an agency to cover the gaps. This partnership should be about the client, helping them grow their brand awareness, traffic, and revenue.
Unfortunately, I’ve often seen these partnerships devolve into fury and blame, each agency pointing at the other when a project slows down or falls apart altogether.
This isn’t an optimal experience for the client and tends to sour them on working with multiple agencies. We as agencies have to be better. We need to stop beating each other up, blaming each other, and competing with each other. So, with the help of my favorite band, I’m going to share some Tools on how agencies can work together.
Tip #1 – Crucify the ego
So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late
To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical
And you will come to find that we are all one mind
Capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable
It’s easy to let our pride get in the way of forging strong partnerships with other marketing agencies. We may start to see them as competition. We want to push our ideas to the forefront because we want to seem more critical to our client’s operations. We feel that if the other agency appears to be doing a better job, appears to have more ideas, our clients will move everything over to them.
As Marcellus Wallace said in Pulp Fiction, “That’s just pride fuckin’ with you.”
You don’t need to share every idea to prove your abilities. You don’t need to be the first to talk during every meeting. Do what your agency would do if you were the only one contracted to the client and everything will work itself out.
Ego and pride will get in the way of success. Ego and pride will definitely lose you the client.
Tip #2 – Appoint a project manager to avoid schisms
No fault, none to blame
It doesn’t mean I don’t desire
To point the finger, blame the other
Watch the temple topple over
There needs to be one leader for each project undertaken by multiple agencies. Otherwise, some tasks are doubled completed, others are ignored, and nothing actionable happens.
The way to stop this wasted time and effort is to appoint a project manager for each big initiative.
Now, this can work in multiple ways:
Appoint someone with previous project management experience
If there is a skilled project manager in one, or both, of the agencies, that person should run point on projects. They’ll know best how to scope out the project, divvy up the deliverables, and keep track of the project’s progress.
Appoint the most organized person
When it comes to many Crunchy Links projects. I’m usually in charge of project management. I oversee our Asana boards, and I usually help to run projects for our Enterprise clients.
And I have no project management experience. I didn’t go to school for it, it’s never been in any job title. I’m just organized AF.
Appoint the most knowledgeable person
Sometimes you just have to make the most knowledgeable person the project manager. If most of the project you’re working on needs PPC data to support other deliverables, make the most expert PPC marketer the project manager. They’ll be able to synthesize the data, create digestible stories, and manage the deliverables that come from other members of the project.
Do what works for each project, and using the expertise you have on each team. It will help you deliver the best results for your client.
Tip #3 – Share reporting data
Don’t these talking monkeys know that Eden has enough to go around?
Plenty in this holy garden…
This can be a giant battle. Neither agency wants to share its numbers out of fear. It’s their “proprietary data,” from “advanced technology,” built by “machine learning.”
Shut the f**k up and just share the data. It’s going to make both agencies better. More importantly, it’s going to make the client better.
If one agency handles paid media, and the other handles SEO, there is a great opportunity for collaboration. The paid media agency should share data on what CTAs perform well. The SEO agency can then test those CTAs in the website metadata, where applicable. One channel helps the other, but only when the data is shared.
On top of helping each other, and your client, succeed, sharing the data can help you put together a cogent, shared reporting deck. A single deck is more efficient than multiple decks, and you can tell a full story to your client, including where collaboration helped you achieve better-than-estimated growth on a project. Everyone is happy.
Share the reporting data.
Tip #4 – Learn and evolve
See my shadow changing
Stretching up and over me
Soften this old armor
Hoping I can clear the way by
Stepping through my shadow
Coming out the other side
Step into the shadow
Forty-six and two are just ahead of me
The best thing about working with another agency is that it’s a fantastic chance to learn! You get the benefit of talking to them about their experiences, how they think about digital marketing, how they set up their projects, their 30/60/90 days plans. It’s your opportunity to challenge your preconceived notions, to break down your own strategies and build them up with new knowledge. This will make you better for the client you’re working with, and for your future clients.
Digital marketers can fall into the trap of believing their own “best practices.” Working with other agencies breaks this, and makes you a better marketer.
Tip #5 – There is one goal: help the client
Wake up remember
We are born of one breath, one word
We are all one spark, sun becoming
The goal isn’t to fight the other agency. It’s not to embarrass them, nor is it to put them “out of business” with the client.
The goal is to help the client!
I know what you’re saying: “Jamar, of course the goal is to help the client. I already know that.” We’re all human, though, and when we see the other agency messing up, when we are pulled into a meeting or email chain to explain a mistake that they made, it’s hard to keep our objectivity. It’s hard not to want to destroy their relationship so we can have free reign to work with the client how we see best. And, truth be told, it’s hard not to want their share of the marketing budget.
We’ve got to swallow all of that, however, and work to deliver the best results for the client. We have to trust in ourselves, our processes, and our ability to satisfy the client with our deliverables. We cannot worry about what the other agency is doing. We can only worry about what we’ve promised our clients.
If you can work on all of the above, you’ll have a much smoother working relationship with the other agency, or agencies, as the case may be. Stay in the moment. Or, as Tool would tell you:
Embracing you, this reality here
This one, this form I hold now
So wide-eyed and hopeful
Wide-eyed and hopefully wild