This is… a complicated question. Agencies today are under more pressure than ever before to specialize—meaning they’re more in need than ever for qualified, trustworthy partners to “fill the gaps” when delivering success for clients.
Fortunately, finding the right agency partnerships doesn’t have to be a painful process (provided you know what to look for). Here are 5 simple tips to make sure your partners are up to snuff to satisfy your clients, and to keep your work moving forward full-steam ahead.
Vet and Verify
It might seem obvious, but the first step to building a strong agency partnership is… actually picking a high-quality partner. As straightforward as this might seem, it’s the most crucial step toward getting partnerships up on the right foot—and the step too many agencies fail to begin with.
After all, the partners you lean on for client work will reflect your own ability to keep a project moving forward Their failures, unfortunately, will become your failures.
Fortunately, there are a few key signs you can look for with every potential agency partner that can clue you in to their quality:
- What kind of work do they do? How closely do they align with your team in terms of direction, industry, and quality of work?
- Do they have a history of working with other agencies? Are there any signs as to how those partnerships went in the past?
- How willing are they to meet you in the middle when it comes to process? Do they want to lead completely? Do they need too much direction?
You’ll want to check through each of these points as you start working together. This info might just inform how well you’ll get along, and how far your partnership can really go together.
Communicate & Delegate
An agency partnership is a lot like any other relationship: if you can’t communicate, you won’t be able to work together for very long.
It’s crucial to open up strong communication channels with one another early. That might mean keeping things just between you and your partner, or opening up broader discussions between your agency and all of your partners.
By getting everyone on the same page, you make it much easier to delegate important tasks. After all, you’re all working toward the same goal—and you probably work better together than apart.
Keep Creativity Front and Center
If one of the most rewarding feelings for an agency is having your clients praise your work, a close second has to be having other professionals do the same.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to put creativity and forward thinking at the forefront of all your agency partnerships: the more free you and your partners feel to introduce new concepts, the better off you’ll all be in the end.
Make sure to give your partners enough room and flexibility to show off their own unique creativity. Not only will that give you insight into some of their most outside-the-box creations, but it’ll also encourage them to give you the same support.
One of the most valuable things a partner can do for your established processes? Blow them up.
Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to look at it with fresh eyes. When that’s not possible you bring a new player to the stage. That’s what an agency partner can do: take a hard look at the way you do things, and inspire you with new ways of thinking.
That said, disruption really works best when it’s a two-way street. Open up that expectation with your partners early: invite them to critique your process, and be generous with your own critiques of their strategies.
This isn’t about bringing one another down; it’s about building each other up. Don’t take criticism personally, but also don’t be afraid to criticize your own processes along the way. It’s a great way to learn from each other.
Respect Your Limitations
For a lot of professionals, asking for help can sometimes be the hardest skill of all to master.
You might never want to admit you can’t do something, but sometimes it’s just the honest truth—and that’s where a good partnership is most valuable. By identifying your weak points and pulling in partners to supplement, you might just be able to pull of whatever challenge is keeping you from moving forward.
Plus, by admitting where you need help, you’ll probably also gain quite a bit of respect from your partners and your clients. After all, honesty is a much better way of getting things done right than trying to power through and getting things done poorly.
Partnerships Are What You Make Them. Make Yours Great.
Whether you’ve struggled with agency partnerships in the past or you’ve managed several highly successful collaborations with other agencies, one thing is for sure: it can be a complicated relationship to manage.
We should know: we’ve been working with a strong network of agency partners for years, and we know all the opportunities (and easy-to-encounter pitfalls) that are all too common. By sticking to your strengths, giving enough room for everyone to breathe, and keeping up communication, you can get your partnerships on the right course from the very beginning.
Want to know what it’s like to have a great agency partner? We’d be happy to show you. Get in touch and see what it’s like to work with an agency that knows how to manage a successful partnership from day 1.
- Conor Snell
- Social Media & Content Strategist