As an account manager, I often find myself on a conference call with clients – and their other agencies. While we here at Search Mojo take on SEO and Paid Media, clients often hire other agencies for things like public relations and web design; which means, in an ideal scenario, we all work together for the greater good – in this case, for the benefit of the client.
There’s that old adage “too many cooks in the kitchen.” While it can be literal – have you ever tried to get into Search Mojo’s kitchen on the day of a chili cook off? – in this case, it’s metaphorical. When multiple agencies come together, there are a lot of ideas brought to the table by a lot of people who are good at their jobs – and if we’re being honest, none of us like to be told our ideas aren’t the best thing since sliced bread.
Here’s an example: A client is launching a new website and is ready for input on SEO. While the site looks great, it’s also all flash and parallax design, making it less than optimal for search engines. The designers aren’t happy to hear that sort of feedback and understandably so – they’re proud of their hard work which took hours to create.
So how do you approach working with different agencies with different specialties and different people? Here are five tips I’ve found helpful:
1. Set A Goal
All the agencies involved have the same ultimate goal – getting the best results for their client. The most important thing to establish is what that goal is: Making the site more search engine-friendly? A successful blogger outreach campaign? Establish the goal first and continue to work towards it throughout the project.
2. Appoint A Group Leader
I like to think of this as ‘The Talking Stick.’ You know, that stick that gets passed around signifying it’s your turn to talk. While not quite the same idea, selecting a person from each team to do the majority of the talking on the team’s behalf saves from having a whole lot of talking, but not a lot of action.
3. Set An Agenda
One of the most important things to do before any meeting is to go in with an agenda, shared with the meeting participants ahead of time if at all possible. If you called the meeting, take time to bullet out what you’d like to discuss. This helps keep the meeting on track and also gives those attending a chance to prepare ahead of time. If you didn’t call the meeting, consider asking for an agenda beforehand.
4. Take Notes
As obvious as it might sound, take notes. This will help everyone stay organized and to keep the project on track. After meetings, send out recaps so everyone will have the same information. Break down your recaps into action items for each team so everyone knows who is doing what – this will keep each of your agencies accountable for their role in the project and avoid the “I thought you were doing that” scenarios.
5. Pick Up A Phone
Technology has made it incredible easy to avoid conversation. Emails and IMs allow us to hide behind screens and ‘multitask.’ When working with multiple groups, reach for that paperweight on your desk, also known as a telephone. A five minute phone conversation on strategy will prove more beneficial than a lengthy chain of emails every time. After the phone call, send a recap using all of those notes you took.
Do you have multiple marketing agencies that you work with? What tips have you found helpful for ensuring everyone gets along?