For years, agencies have wanted clients to see them as integrated, full-service and able to deliver all elements of the campaign (whether they actually do or not). Achieving this requires a different mindset; one that embraces openness and transparency and harnesses the power of synergy as the route to developing more meaningful and sustainable relationships with clients.
The fundamental, and sometimes elusive, goal of the agency-client relationship is the ability to think fresh, be innovative and access the most effective tools and technologies for engaging and interacting with target audiences. That’s where synergy comes in.
Leveraging the power of two (or more) disciplines into one force presents a win-win-win for all involved. There are some principles to bear in mind, though.
Focus on skills
To use a well-known phrase, ‘jack of all trades and master of none’, focus on your key in-house skills and core competencies, and bring the skills of others to the creative table. Big thinkers and creative minds with an ‘anything is possible’ approach can set the bar high for creative exploration when the solution can be achieved through a synergy partner.
In the event experience sector, for example, our synergies tend to be with event technology businesses who we can work with to implement ideas and develop new ones. Or, it could be with content creators, videographers or event producers. So, thinking wider than your current offering could produce a more sustainable competitive advantage.
Mutual respect and transparency create trust
Where these relationships work best is when the agency doesn’t hoodwink the client into believing they are delivering all elements of the campaign. For the model to really work, openness and transparency are required.
The power of synergy is about achieving results that are greater than could have been achieved when acting alone – the ‘two heads are better than one’ approach. For this to happen, the resultant creativity is dependent on the foundation stone of mutual respect and trust.
Leveraging relationships – what’s in it for you?
Just think about the access to additional resources including people, potential economies of scale and of investment, the extension of tools available or perhaps the development of software capability, and you can start to see why this model is an increasingly attractive solution to getting the ‘big idea’ delivered.
Everyone’s a winner
Whether you decide to joint-pitch to the client or have the main agency conduct the pitch on behalf of both parties is dependent to a degree on the existing client relationship, as well as the depth of subject knowledge. Importantly, whether the whole synergy pitch is won, or an element from either business, you can both benefit from the collaboration.
These benefits can include data collaboration, extending social media reach and gaining networking and referral opportunities. Think bigger, and creating synergy can provide access to new markets, new clients and strengthen existing client relationships through wider product or service offerings.
It can even work with competitors where one complements the offering of the other. The client wins either way.
Deciding what synergies to create is not easy but when you find it, look after it. The mutual creativity you achieve through collaboration will promote more efficiency, more efficacy and more regular improvement which will outperform what you could achieve on your own.
Christelle Gental is marketing director at WE Create.