Your customers don’t respect agency retainers; they use multiple channels and devices, maybe even all at the same time, with scant regard for the longest standing agency relationships or best negotiated retainers. Unless you can get these moving parts working seamlessly together, any aspirations for a truly multichannel customer experience will remain just that.
The cornerstone of any effective integrated marketing strategy is a closely aligned set of stakeholders, and that includes often competing agencies. This competition is being intensified as there is an ever more prevalent overlap in services provision, driven by agencies that are either growing or buying their way towards increasing diversification.
As you can imagine in such circumstances, often these agencies do not make natural bedfellows. However, our experience is that the foundations for success lie with the client, who has the opportunity to create the right environment for agencies to flourish.
Success criteria for highly effective multi-agency partnerships
The most obvious, but often overlooked contributor to success is in selecting the right agencies with the right people in the first place. An open culture with supporting values around knowledge and learning is an essential element, as is the chemistry with key individuals in the team. Make this a key part of any initial/ongoing evaluation of agencies and take the time to follow-up on references and case studies offered in support.
Once you have the right partners in place, they need to see that you are serious about everyone working together – without a clear lead it will be impossible for agencies to follow. Make the time to spell it out; all the way from RFP through to initial briefings and all agency sessions. Recognise and reward collaboration and do not stand for any initial signs of uncooperative behaviour.
Assist by setting clear responsibilities and collaborative ways of working. It can help to list key activities, and map out who is leading each and how all other partners can benefit from and contribute to the knowledge pool. If you set the rules of engagement, you won’t need to be in the room for value to be created.
Consider how agencies are remunerated. Is there parity within the commercial frameworks? Expecting an agency who is remunerated on performance within one channel to work in the same manner to an agency on retainer does not provide a level playing field. Don’t forget to have retainer time allocated, even on a nominal basis for inter-agency activities. Once things are going well, why not consider some joint metrics?
Invest time in ensuring all agencies understand each other’s experience, approach and practices plus all understand the data and insight available to them from the group. Increasingly teams are being tasked to consider new problems often needing a new approach or combined solutions. Knowing what everyone else does helps in identifying strengths and playing to them.
Ensure agency teams working on your business have a thorough induction process and understand your business. This should be business-wide and is especially important when you introduce a new partner into the mix. If you have a warehouse, shop floor or a thriving office, we find that working on site is a great next step to the initial formal induction and we would encourage that above all else.
In summary, make time to construct a collaborative environment and reap the rewards of a partnership with all parties striving towards the same objectives.