Is Working with Multiple Agencies a Good Idea?

Dave Buckland & Mark Renz

Recently a client asked: “Should we work with multiple agencies or is it better to try to find a partner that can do everything for us?” This is a challenge that many clients face and a question we are often asked. While many agencies say they can do it all, it’s rare that you will be best supported by one—especially when it comes to medium- to large-sized businesses.

Too many companies evaluate their agencies without first taking an important initial look at themselves. By asking yourself some important questions, you can gather some critical intel on yourself and then begin your partner search with clarity. This makes it much more efficient for both sides. Ask yourself:

  • What are your internal capabilities?

  • Where does your organization excel?

  • What are you asking your agency (or agencies) to do?

  • Why do you need help in the first place? Do you need short-term or ongoing support?

  • What are your expectations from these agencies and/or engagements?

  • Have you defined what success looks like for the partnership and/or engagement?

No agency is amazing at everything. There are too many “things” under the current marketing umbrella for any agency, regardless of size, to excel in all categories. In an era where agencies are increasingly specialized, many shops have core competencies that set them apart, but try hard to provide service beyond their core.

That’s why it’s essential to have an understanding of what you’re trying to do—and what success looks like for your organization. In doing so, you’ll know whether you need a partner that excels at advertising, or if you’re also trying to encompass branding, PR, experiential, ecommerce, and more.

The wider the scope, the more likely you’re going to need multiple players that play well together. While hiring multiple agencies enables you to tap into disparate expertise, it also demands an additional level of organization. Because every agency operates on different processes, procedures, and technology stacks, this requires your internal team to collaborate and adapt to various communication preferences and platforms.

So, is your company capable of managing multiple agencies?

Sounds like a simple question right? It may be. But it does not have a simple answer.

Simply put, what works for one team may not for another. Having a team capable of juggling multiple agencies requires defined roles and responsibilities. It demands transparent communication and synchronized internal systems and processes. That’s why it’s essential to do an internal gut check before you choose to partner with anyone.

If your company doesn’t have a foundation, it doesn’t matter who you work with. Chances are, you won’t be satisfied with the results. Let’s review six things you should make sure are in place before hiring any number of agencies to tackle your marketing needs.

Here’s what you should consider before working with multiple agencies.

  1. Have dialed guidelines to share. This helps minimize questions and debates before they happen. Think of questions you would ask yourself and have documentation to share. As we mentioned, each team operates on different processes—and it’s important to maintain a level of consistency across your numerous touch points.

  2. Have a definitive strategy when briefing each agency. Always share the full scope, regardless of what piece an agency is supporting. This level of transparency is not only helpful, it also defines KPI’s and ways that an agency’s resources may be used. For example, if you have a video producer making content that you’ll be handing off to a managed social agency, they’ll probably recommend capturing footage to help edit smaller clips and produce assets at the right dimensions.

  3. Communication (and human interaction) is key. Remote work is great (hey, just take a look at Buckland Co.), but you also need to schedule productive check-ins via video conference at a cadence that ensures everyone is on the same page. No one should be holding back information or working within a vacuum when it comes to advancing your goals.

  4. Determine an internal agency owner. Even if that person is managing multiple agencies, it provides each moving part with a point of contact and reduces duplication and double talk. While some may worry that this creates silos, this is only a risk if you put a poor communicator in this role. If you can find one person who is solid at collecting and distilling consistent information, then you should give them the reins.

  5. Not all agencies are providing the same services. It’s easy to assume that what works for one will work for others. Some agencies charge more and some want revenue shares (a percentage of media spend or hourly fees). While there is no right or wrong in this context, it’s essential to come to agreements that work for both sides and are in line with your primary objectives for the partnership in the first place.

  6. Ask for and give your agencies feedback on each other—and on yourself. This is not an invitation to point fingers, but a way to foster helpful feedback and insights. Be polite, be professional, and be transparent. Establishing a safe space for constructive criticism creates respect and harmony and makes your project more successful.

In order to do great work, you essentially need two things: A great agency and a great client. If both of these are in place, then the real fun starts and you can impress your customers and take your marketing programs to the next level.

Contact us today to create a customized marketing solution to fit your needs—and we promise to tell you where we’re awesome and where we may recommend bringing on additional partners.