Over the years we, at Elephants Can’t Jump, have worked closely with other client’s agencies to help deliver their goals in the most effective way possible.
We are a brand strategy, innovation and insight agency and have often needed to work closely with ad agencies, web builders, retail design agencies or other insight agencies that are already part of the client’s support crew.
During that time, we’ve learnt a few tips and techniques which help guide us in these relationships.
1. Seek to reassure.
Often the most nervous person in the partnership is the client. They will have heard of agencies falling out, causing problems between each other and may be cautious about even asking them to work together to deliver a specific goal. Be sure to give the client the reassurance they need: that you’ve done this before, that it is a normal way of working and that it’s a way of working you embrace and enjoy.
2. Be generous. And be Kind.
You need to be generous with your time, with your energy, with your compliments and your support. You need to ‘lean in’ and always give a bit more than normal to be sure that all sides meet in the middle leaving no gaps for problems to crop up. Be kind. Be supportive. Don’t criticise. Act in a way that you would like to be treated yourselves.
3. Go through the client.
Always start an inter-agency relationship by going through the client. Wait until the client indicates that they feel comfortable enough to step back and allow the two agencies to work together directly. Don’t be insistent on this too quickly. Be prepared to host three-way meetings (agency-client-agency) even if it feels it would be quicker with just two.
4. Back up your hypotheses and your theories with clear evidence.
Whenever we have been working with other agencies, we’ve always needed to be clear about the recommendations we are making and to back these up with clear substantiated (often consumer-driven) evidence. It helps take a lot of the subjectivity out of the debates and replaces opinion with substance.
5. Checking In.
Keep checking on progress and process – is it all going well? And is everyone feeling good about how we are working together? Are we enjoying working together? Any tweaks to be made for the good of the overall project? Should we do this again?
These are just five tips that will help as you start a process of working together on behalf of your client. It could work so well that you may even want to do it again with the same agencies – a partnership for life.