Against all odds? Agency collaboration shouldn’t be rare.

In an industry obsessed with who gets the cash and credit fueled by a “bake off” buyer mentality it’s no wonder clients rarely encounter natural collaboration among agencies. Owners have a hard time working with other agencies because it’s hard to agree on how to split the cash and assign the credit where it’s due. Marketers, for their part, too often expect agencies to compete for business by giving away great ideas in the pitch.

It’s these powerful realities that make collaboration a rarity in our industry.

A recent Digiday article looked at the dysfunctional track record of agency collaboration, and shared an against-all-odds success story from JC Penny. It wasn’t the agency collaboration in the example we found to be unique. Rather, it was the vision of JC Penny to install and foster a collaborative environment for its agencies that could be described as a long shot.

Perhaps it’s the competitive, siloed nature of big agency holding companies or the defined need by large clients to split responsibilities among specialized agencies that makes collaboration such a rare event. In any case, we know from experience that there are ways to help foster collaboration and facilitate an open and frequent exchange of ideas among agency partners.

1. Go indie!

Independent agencies inside a global network come from a culture of community and collaboration (Nelson Schmidt is a member of the Marketing & Advertising Global Network, MAGNET). By definition these agencies rely on one another for content and best practice sharing, and commune frequently to problem solve together. Perhaps most significantly for the client, actions are not directly tied to short-term shareholder requirements of the bottom line. 

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