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How Do You Spell Synergy? Creating Productive Agency Partnerships

Posted by Jeff Jones on Tue, May 27, 2014 @ 09:05 AM

As an agency that is 100% dedicated to media planning and buying, we work side-by-side with many creative agencies, public relations firms and consultants. Since it’s impossible for one agency to provide ALL marketing services for a brand, these partnerships are necessary and commonplace. An understanding of the WHYs and HOWs to these partnership is essential in the advertising/marketing world. We’ve been managing agency partnerships for over twenty years and offer the following practical advice.


Strength in numbers. The primary reason for developing agency partnerships is to complement your services and help acquire new business that would otherwise be out of reach. Brands will naturally gravitate toward one-stop shopping. When you already have time-tested strategic agency alliances, you’ve overcome the hurdle of being a narrowly focused company. Possible agency partner categories include:

  • Media
  • Creative
  • Research
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media
  • Database Management
  • Brand/Reputation Management
  • Multicultural Marketing
  • Promotions/Events
  • Web/App Development

Provide greater depth of services. With established partnerships in a variety of disciplines, you can expand your service listings. This breadth of services can be promoted on each agency's website and in collateral materials. Be sure to be transparent about these partnerships; misrepresenting your in-house services may create mistrust with your clients. Frankly, most brands understand that one company cannot do everything. They expect to work with a team of companies and appreciate when there is already an established network of services. 

Create additional perspectives. Collaboration is essential in today’s marketplace. Effective marketing plans require perspectives from many disciplines during planning and implementation. As marketing options become more sophisticated, especially in digital channels, it is impossible for a person or agency to be an expert in all facets of the industry. Having a larger pool of talent also produces unique ideas and opportunities. Varied experience, age, ethnicity, expertise and personal perspective inspires creativity.


Someone has to take the lead. Clients will expect to have a lead agency on every project. They don’t want to call several companies to communicate or resolve issues. Typically, the agency that nurtured the new business lead is the one that should take the lead. This designated agency will have additional responsibilities and should be compensated accordingly.

Communicate and collaborate. The purpose of developing a network of complementary agencies is to expand your services and collaborate. So, do it. Plan regular meetings. Meet in person. Discuss. Debate. Explore. There is always a danger of working within your four walls and falling out of communication with your agency partners. Put systems in place to offset this temptation. If the agencies work in silos, there is no advantage to partnership.

Be transparent with clients. In today’s business climate, clients understand that they’ll have to work with several agencies with unique services. Don’t try to hide your partnerships. Instead, use them as an advantage. Tout that you’ve developed a network of agencies with specific expertise working together toward a common goal.

Be transparent with each other. Letters of agreement are strongly recommended. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal contract, but partner responsibilities, expectations and compensation should be outlined in writing. The account should be managed as a team, with each partner contributing based on their expertise and relative compensation.

Combine resources. In addition to combining brainpower, combine physical resources. Partner agencies can share the cost of new business efforts that can sometimes be overwhelming for one agency.

Our agency has forged many partnerships. Some purposeful. Some accidental. Most have been the result of a new business opportunity that requires multiple disciplines. Our longest lasting partnerships are with agencies that have complementary services and small egos. We work with these partner agencies every day and promote them on our website, We’ve also found that Second Wind is a trusted source for small and midsized agencies with varied experience. If you’re seeking partnerships to expand your breadth of services, give them a look at Industry events in your area are also a good place to find potential partners. If you’re looking for a media agency partner, give us a call.

Topics: creative agency, choosing a media agency, partnership

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