In the spirit of specialized agencies comes the realization that your agency has to learn how to share. You have to learn how to work with other agencies.
I know shocking! But what if they steal my ideas…
If you are both working for the same team, the client, then the only person who gets something stolen from them when you don’t share is the client. And when the client doesn’t win that means you aren’t going to win either.
We are part of an era when smaller, specialized agencies exist. Clients don’t always believe that one agency can do it all. They opt to work with multiple agencies who master one or two things in the marketing and PR puzzle. Which means your client expects you to know how to work with other agencies and most importantly they expect all of you to work together.
Do you need to brush up your sharing skills? Then read more below…
The only way you and the other agencies are going to feel safe to share ideas and collaborate is if you have an open and honest environment. This means you create opportunities for your own team and the other agencies involved to spend time working together.
Your time together shouldn’t be spent in silence because you are scared to share ideas, it shouldn’t be spent defending your ideas and it shouldn’t be spent putting their ideas down. Everyone should feel comfortable coming to the table to share what they have, where they want to go and what they want to change.
Not only is this important for your relationship with the other agencies involved in the project but also the client. They aren’t paying you to sit there and bicker with your counterpart, hear you blame them for everything or worse watch you spend more time protecting your own business interests rather than looking out for their best interests. Your agency will come out the winner when the client sees that you work well with others.
Make sure to establish a collaborative environment from the beginning. Set aside differences from day one and if you ever feel like the other agency is throwing you under the bus, don’t take the bait. The client will see it without you having to swing back.
An important step in not feeling competitive with the other agencies you are working with is taking the time to understand them and what they specialize in. Remember you were each brought in because you have different strengths. This isn’t the Hunger Games, where only one of you will come out on top. You’ve already won the contract, the competitiveness can end and you can focus your energy and time into understanding the project. And often times understanding the project means getting to know the other agencies involved.
- What did the client see in you?
- In the other agencies?
- How do their strengths play into your weaknesses?
- What can you learn from them?
Instead of working against each other there is a lot you can learn by working with each other. To build this mentality into your team you have to start by taking the time to understand the other agency. Study them, look at old work, maybe even try to talk to old clients or better yet agencies who have worked with them before. Learn everything you can about them like you would the client. That way you won’t feel defensive or worried about sharing something. You will see your differences first hand and it will help ease the tension.
Chances are the other agencies don’t do anything like you and will be so focused on executing their role within the client’s project they won’t have time to interfere with what your team is working on.
In order to create your best work you often times have to reach out to people within your own agency who aren’t client-facing for ideas. Now you can use that same mentality with the other agencies who are working on the project with you. While you and your team are deeply emerged in executing your side of the project you might have blinders on and forge ahead without looking at it from a different perspective. However, when you are required to work with other agencies you can use this as an opportunity to break the silos and solicit their opinions throughout the process.
Brainstorming sessions and meetings give you a chance to do this. While that agency might not be experts in that area, they can offer a new perspective and diversify your thoughts. Ask for feedback, it doesn’t mean you have to take it but it will help create the open environment and will almost serve as an olive branch to your counterparts. Their feedback could help you realize something you didn’t know before or they could have information about the client that you might have missed.
Brainstorming, working together and soliciting feedback might seem hard to do in the beginning but it will be worth it in the end. This is what will form a true partnership.
Wrap It Up
Let’s face it, if this client is choosing to work with multiple agencies for this project it could mean you have a shot at collaborating with them in the future. If you have a reputation of working well with others and producing great work then you are sure to be asked back again. Or better yet the other agencies you are working with could become your best referrals!
Try not come into the situation looking at them as monsters who stole billable hours. Come in with the hopes of forming a partnership and the end goal of working together to better the client. When you are collaborative rather than competing you will look better and better yet you might realize that working together is more rewarding than you imaged! And remember, sharing is caring.
Want to take your client relationships a step further? Then download our FREE e-book, How To Escape Your Agency’s Reporting Nightmare here.