Maximizing the specialized talents of Independent Agencies

Marketing and brand managers across all industries have a far more extensive “to-do list” than ever before with the addition of social media, web and content marketing, SEO to their responsibilities – not to mention traditional tasks such as advertising and media relations. Likening these marketing pros to an orchestra conductor, how can they choose the right musicians and then manage the talent to create beautiful music?

Obviously there’s the option of utilizing an internal team, but oft times these employees get distracted with internal matters and lose sight of proactive marketing campaigns. Furthermore, you can’t necessarily compile a team with expertise in all relevant areas (imagine the recruiting and payroll needs!).

An alternative is enlisting multiple specialized agencies. Small firms are comfortable collaborating with a variety of partners. They don’t structure themselves to be everything to everyone, so small firms frequently team-up with other agencies to offer multi-dimensional programs. Some other points brand managers like to keep in mind – this option is far more cost-effective than hiring a large, full-service (often global) firm, not to mention a great way to receive more attention and better service from seasoned executives.

So, as you begin arranging your troupe of communications experts, think Cross-Agency Collaboration!

Following are five tips for managing and motivating a collaborative cross-agency effort for optimal results:

  • Choose agencies willing to coordinate with others – While it’s hard to fathom that a small, specialized firm doesn’t already regularly work collaboratively with other agencies, some are better at this than others. When determining who to hire, ask each firm about their multi-agency success stories. Or, if you work with one firm already, you might want to tap into their existing network of specialists.
  • Communicate your needs – Provide the agencies with a brief that outlines clear business objectives, pertinent information about the brand DNA, existing marketing efforts, and goals for each agency. For increased accountability take the time to define success, including deliverables for each company.
  • Establish the process – In order to get the most out of each agency, make sure you define a clear process for how you’d like the companies’ teams to work together. You need to clarify the roles, expectations and responsibilities of each agency. Further, you might choose to assign an executive from one of the agencies to be your team leader.
  • Set-up team tools – Nowadays the “cloud” allows multiple agencies to easily coordinate efforts. Tap into Google Docs, Dropbox, Skype meetings, your company’s Intranet, and other online resources. Once set-up, the team leader should create a timeline outlining exact deliverables for each participant.
  • Reward collaboration – Agencies should be rewarded for great work. Bring the team together to celebrate successes. Be sensitive about equally acknowledging the contributions of each agency, assuming all players are doing a great job. The teams will need to know that their respective piece of the business is protected, and while you present a safety net, also offer a reason to jump higher.

As more and more executives leave large agencies to create small, specialized companies, multi-agency collaborations will become even more popular. If you do your due diligence this approach should not create more work for you; rather, it should cost-effectively result in superior results!

Written by Suzanne Mannion

Suzanne has been in the communications industry for more than 20 years. With a focus on strategic planning and program management, she has developed and implemented campaigns for numerous business and consumer-facing clients.

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