The Redbird Guide for Agencies That Share a Client

By Miriam Bookey, CSO

I’ll set the scene…

You’re an agency with a particular specialty — content marketing let’s say — and you’ve been commissioned by a large company to develop and deploy a content strategy across all of its channels. Now, let’s imagine that the CMO who hired you (smart CMO, by the way) knows her way around agencies. She’s already recruited an advertising agency, a PR agency, a media-buying agency, a social media agency, a technical SEO agency and an agency that specializes in experiential marketing.

And the content that you create will be touched by everyone.

So — how do you navigate? Below, the Redbird Guide to playing well with others, no matter where you are in the agency shuffle.

1. Get to know your new agency peeps.

You’re much less threatening when you aren’t just an email address. Establishing a more personal connection means you’ll have better results when asking for something.

The moment your MSA is signed, get busy figuring out who does what. You’ll want to get your hands on a spreadsheet with names, titles, roles and contact info (and if this doesn’t exist, be a leader and create it based on their team bios). Then, call your contacts and introduce yourself. Better yet, go to their offices and meet face-to-face, even if you have to hop on a flight to do so.

This is an investment, and it will pay off in the long term.

2. Tap into their expertise.

Every engagement starts with a plan, and this usually includes discovery. Any agency who has been there longer than you, however small the window, knows something about the client that you don’t.

Be curious.

Ask your fellow agencies for insight into what they’re doing, study all the decks that you can, absorb information about client personalities in a way that doesn’t encourage gossip. Start by asking, “What is ______’s work style? How do you work best with them? Is there anything for me to consider?”

3. Coordinate like crazy.

As you develop your strategy and implementation plan, determine how you can connect the agency dots.

As warranted, set up or attend existing daily standups, weekly check-ins, monthly stepbacks and quarterly reviews. Be friendly on calls and contribute to the conversation with emotional intelligence. Your client will see and appreciate how ideas blossom, along with the economies that occur, when agencies collaborate.

4. Create (or dive into) a transparent process.

Most clients want visibility. Who is talking to whom? Where does your content stand in the overall workflow? Why are you making the content decisions you’re making?

Send out a vetted agenda before each meeting (complete with everyone’s input), take notes during calls in a shared Google doc and develop takeaways with a clear division of labor once decisions are made.

5. Collaborate on reporting.

Know what reports are being generated and where they’re being distributed. Are there a gazillion reports? What format are they in? Can you work with the various agencies to corral them?

Work together, wherever possible, to build a dashboard that gathers and interprets data in a way that’s visual, useful and clean.

Do all of this. Do it all consistently, and you’ll have set the stage for synergy.

Of course, true teamwork is never a guarantee. Some agencies will hold their work close to the vest. They won’t want to divulge their plans. They won’t want to share their insights. They won’t want to give you access to tools that are being paid for by the client. They’ll resist collaboration during key content ideation and creation periods, sharing only those products that are approved and finalized. And you just have to be resilient and cool about it.

When other agencies don’t play nice, focus on the agencies that do. Your work, as well as your collaborative spirit, will propel you to the top, and your collective work will be all the better for it.