This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.
Collaboration between partners requires mutual trust, aligned objectives and open communication. When executed well it leads to mutual benefit and rewards.
So when Nick Cleaver, CEO of full service agency 303MullenLowe Australia, said he “hates” working with other agencies and argued it creates nothing but division and inefficiency, my first thought is that he is probably doing it the wrong way and doesn’t even know it.
Back in 2010 we provided a Slideshare presentation on the range of various roster types from the highly diverse “Best of Breed” model to the Holding Company “full service” model.
The trend of advertisers moving from one end of the model to the other or any one of the others in-between is an on-going process. There are recent examples of McDonald’s consolidating with a single agency with DDB in the USA and more who are adding specialist agencies to already complex rosters.
But the one trend that is not changing for marketers or all sizes and all categories is the increasing need to collaborate with others; other departments or functions within the organisation, with other organisations, with suppliers and more.
So while Mr. Cleaver may ‘hate’ collaborating with others, he will find himself increasingly isolated as the trend is working against his opinion. So in the interests of helping Nick, and anyone else that feels like him, learn to enjoy collaboration, here are five ways you are doing it wrong and could be doing it better.
1. Misalignment of goals
So many times when marketers talk with us about the issues or poor collaboration between the agencies in their roster, the major underlying factor is a misalignment of goals between the various agencies and the marketing team.
Of course if you ask an agency what are their goals they will ideally tell you to assist making the marketing team successful. But this denies the very powerful but often unspoken goal of maximising revenue and profit on the account.
The same applies for when you are trying to create collaboration between functional teams within an organisation or even between two separate companies collaborating on a project. If the objectives are not clearly articulated and agreed between the various teams working on the project there will be no collaboration.
While Nick Cleaver will read this and say that if there is one ‘full service’ agency then it is easier to get alignment on the goals, that is not necessarily true.
Yes it could be easier as there are fewer parties involved. But without a clear alignment on mutual goals it could be that the agency is working to a separate goal, which is still to maximise their share of the budget as revenue and profit, unless delivering the marketers goal means the agency achieves their goal.
2. Bullying and not leadership
If there is one term in roster management that undermines collaboration between agencies it is “Lead Agency”. I am sure Nick, like most agency CEOs, loves to be appointed the Lead Agency.
The problem is not in the term itself, it is in the way the term is often interpreted by the agency. While the marketer may mean the agency is the one that provides leadership and guidance to the other agencies on the roster, many agencies think of leadership as telling everyone else what to do.