No agency can be all things to one client. They can try… but one of two things is likely to happen:
- They’ll perform amazingly well in one area and flounder in another or
- They’ll have so many specialized people working on an account that when it comes to other accounts who don’t need such services, they have salaried people sitting around, waiting for something to do.
Let me tell you how partnership between agencies works well. First, let me start with the fact that I always say we stay in our lane. That’s easy enough to do when we know our strengths – and we know our weaknesses. Keeping with this driving metaphor (because I have no sense of direction and appreciate when the Waze lady tells me precisely where to go), let me lay out a roadmap for how we collaborate with other agencies and keep the client in the spotlight.
No matter if you are a Fortune 500 company, a generations-old family business or a startup, there is a list of types of work that has to be done to get your brand in front of people. This list can include:
- Brand development, strategy, brand standards guide
- Website Development
- SEO/keyword development
- Public Relations
- Personality, tone development
- Graphic design
- Organic Social Media
- Paid ads – google, social media, etc.
- Product development
- Sales deployment
The list goes on.
You can’t possibly think the person who is public-facing as your salesperson is also the one who can do the graphic design. That wouldn’t make any sense. So let’s talk about how to divide and conquer this.
There are some very large agencies out there who can specialize in multiple areas. But for the most part, I have found the best agencies do one or two (maybe three) things really well and the others… well, they just sort of do the best they can to keep the client happy (and blissfully ignorant of what they aren’t doing well).
The people helping with your brand development/strategy will really be the people who lay out what needs to happen when, and in what order. And many of these agencies or departments can take you through the next step of website development. And then. This is where we come in.
Bringing the voice into the mix.
While there are some agencies out there who can do some content sharing on social, they don’t really come at it with a strong sense of social media knowledge, best practice or experience. Sure, they can throw a few graphics up (I have even heard of an agency putting stock photos on tiktok….. the horror). But this isn’t true social media engagement.
Time after time we hear from agencies who get stuck at this stage and need our support. An agency owner recently said to me, “What am I going to do, hire a whole department for one client and a manager to supervise them? Might as well just hire you and your team.” Precisely.
There is nothing we like more than coming in as another member of the team of agencies to support a client. We each specialize in our own area and partner together.
Staying in our lane.
As I consistently repeat, we stay in our lane of social media. We know our skillset and we know the skillset of our peers from other agencies. We aren’t going to try to redesign a website or write a press release. It’s not our skill. We aren’t there to be in competition with the other agencies. We are there to collaborate and partner for the sake of the client. When our fellow partners get this and work with us, then we see the rewards through our clients’ eyes.
When a brand guide is already established, it makes our job that much easier. First, we know what to say/not say, we know what colors to use, what rules there are around the logo. But we also follow the rules someone else set in place. We have no intention of coming in and doing it another way (aka wrong). We’re happy to follow their rules and work within them.
Likewise, we ask the other agencies to stay in their lane. While we are always open to questions and good discussions, it’s important that everyone knows their place and their role on the team. If our role is social, then let us do social. We can sometimes feel that another agency is nervous that we’re there… they can get territorial. I assure you, we have on intention of rebranding something right out from under their nose. But having us in a meeting discussing upcoming plans makes sense for all of us.
Eyes on the prize.
We want PR, print ads, web pages and social to all have the same messaging, the same branding. Working together, for the good of the client, is what we’re all there to do. When everyone focuses on their specialty and works as a team, we all sparkle.
If you work with an agency and are looking to outsource social media work, let me know!