Build Your Relationship – Success in the Competitive Digital Agency Arena

Late this September my colleague and I had the opportunity to attend Google’s Partner Summit as well as the Kenshoo K8 Summit. Designed to engage further with their clients, both events had many similar components – consisting of a variety of speaking series from thought leaders as well roundtables and sessions with agencies similar to ours to discuss how we could all collaborate. Leaving both events, I felt an “ah-ha” moment regarding a question that had me stumbling for years on end. That is – what are the components of a successful agency in the digital marketing arena?

Now I don’t nor do I expect anyone to have the perfect answer to the question above – after all there are plenty of reasons, explanations and beliefs to how and why certain agencies succeed while others falter. That said, I believe one of the most basic reasons why some succeed all boils down to how well they collaborate, work and partner with companies such as Google, Yahoo-Bing, Facebook, Marin, Kenshoo and similar networks or platforms we all rely tremendously on. Those whom have established strong working relationships with both partners & networks alike have traditionally fared well in this competitive arena.

Most agencies have representatives assigned to their books of business from these companies already but the utilization of these service teams varies dramatically by agency.  So how do you successfully harness these relationships for your agencies’ benefit?

Here are three tips on what we can do to work better with our partners:

  1. Always Consider Scale
    1. Your partners want you to win new business and they want you to retain your existing business. Google, YBN, Facebook and even the bid platforms mentioned above all have teams deployed to help with capturing new agency business as well as supporting your existing clients to succeed. How you leverage them though is important. To get the most impact from our service and performance teams the one thing we’ve begun doing here is stopping to first ask ourselves the following:
      1. Is this something that we can learn on our own without asking for support?
      2. Is the feature request I’m asking for scalable?
      3. Will this benefit both parties enough to make it worth their time?
        1. Ex. Do you ask for sales support to your partners for your $5k/mo client or save it for your $20k/mo client?

      Since working at Elite – I’ve noticed a stark difference in service and how we partner once we began asking ourselves these 3 questions prior to engaging with our service or network teams. When I first started my belief was that all these companies should be at the service of our business – regardless of size or shape. A young and naive mindset to say the least, which ultimately resulted in my own frustration with service and support. By first asking ourselves the above 3 questions we’ve been able to truly identify opportunities that make sense and as a result have been able to grow & engage more closely with our teams in a much more productive manner than in year’s past.

  2. Be Assertive With Your Partners & Ask Them “How”
    1. A large part of how we’ve succeeded as an agency is that we haven’t been afraid to be assertive. Here are some great ways to help bridge that relationship with partners in this space:
      Ask the Question – How?
      Tell your partners that you want to more involved in case studies or speaking opportunities and then ask how
      Become a Certified Partner
      Google, YBN, Marin, Kenshoo, and Facebook all have certification programs for agencies – make sure your teams are going through this process and just as important renewing certification whens they expire to stay current
      Attend Industry Events & Give Feedback
      Whether it be a Think Google Event, Marin Masters, or a Kenshoo Client Summit – don’t ignore these events. Make sure you are attending and actively engaging during these opportunities. The more you do to get your agency recognized as thought leaders the better off you will be.
      Promote Your Agency to Your Partners
      Have an upcoming client summit that your agency is hosting? Looking to do a training session for your clients on the latest development coming out of Facebook? Give your reps a heads up! From our experience these are typically events and opportunities that partners want to be involved in and work with you on.
  3. This is a Revenue Driven Business! The Partner vs. Friend Dilemma
    1. From the networks we advertise on (Google, Yahoo-Bing, Facebook), to the platforms we leverage to help our agencies succeed (Bid Platforms, competitive tools, etc), all these companies we rely on walk a fine line of being a partner vs friend. Just like all of us they have profit goals and expectations to make. To put it even more simply: they are in it to make money. I know this sounds very basic but the quicker we realize that everything comes down to profit & revenue growth the better off we are. This general philosophy needs to be considered at all facets when working with them. From getting more support on existing accounts to help with upselling and/or acquiring new books of business.

At the end of the day we are playing the same game –the art of maintaining and building long-standing relationships. Continual work on improving and developing these relationships will help us all succeed in delivering more and getting more from both our clients and partners.

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