Man behind the curtainEstablishing strategic agency partnerships can be a great thing…

If they’re done and presented in the right way.

I’ve seen plenty of RFIs where it looks like the partner is really just an add-on to “check the box” of having the chops in the digital space, or social space….or whatever might be lacking from an agency’s roster.

When looking at firms, look deeper into the relationship.

Is there real evidence of the two agencies working together.  Ask “how do they work together?” to get a better sense of the integration between the two firms.

I’ll never forget an RFI response from an agency during a search last year that wanted to showcase its strong media partnership.  In the RFI we asked for examples of specific experience within the industry the client operated in.  90% of the examples provided were examples from the “partner” without any mention of a partnership between the two firms.

It was painful to read because I knew darn well that this was a solid agency…but the fact that they didn’t think through the issue, caused pause and made us look at other agencies in the mix.

The other tell tale sign of a weaker partnership is during the presentation.  Was in a presentation recently where the social media “partner” was present and participating in the final pitch.  One would think all good because the social agency likely brings a depth of experience hard to build up in the four walls of a full service firm….but when the two agencies look just like that:  two agencies…then there’s a problem.

No synergy between the firms in the presentation.  Almost seemed as if they just cut and pasted the two pieces of the presentation together.

Part of what I evaluate during final pitch presentations is the cohesiveness and preparedness of the team.  If they’re working well together and their story flows nicely….then that says a lot about how they might work if you bring them on board.

So while strategic partnerships can be a darn good thing, they can’t be taken for granted, they need to be well planned and orchestrated, and there needs to be some well coordinated meat on the bone.

It’s real easy to tell when there isn’t….so keep an eye out for it.