The agency world is shifting. In the past, agencies of record dominated the industry, offering a wide gamut of services all under one roof. There was an advantage to this setup as working with one partner facilitated ongoing discussions that encompassed every facet of marketing and advertising since one agency handled everything. However, with so many specialties and nuanced skillsets at play in today’s complex digital environment, most businesses now prefer to hire project-based experts, which means they work with multiple agencies. The disadvantage, however, with this multi-partner approach is that it doesn’t foster the collective collaboration that contributes to success because each agency servicing clients has no idea what the other is doing. 

To resolve this, clients often bring agencies together for what the industry calls “partner days.” This isn’t a new concept, however, as businesses that work with partners both externally and internally, are accustomed to bringing everyone together anyways. But, the typical partner days we see happening right now are still not completely successful at helping businesses solve their multi-partner challenges. 

The Problem And A New Approach To Partner Days

How do you get the level of expertise that comes with working with multiple specialized partners and still maintain the collaboration needed for your establishment to run as one strong, cohesive unit? The answer is a new approach to partner days. Typical partner days involve agencies and partners coming together with the partners taking the floor and discussing why they are great, what they do that’s great and their great results. Then during discussion time, when ideas are presented, they spend the rest of the time defending their position on why they are the best agencies to implement them. These types of partner days don’t fully solve your problem as partners still aren’t talking to each other, a vital component to cohesion and success as a multi-dimensional company

To solve this problem, we facilitate partner days a little different by redirecting the focus back on you, the client, and introducing a dynamic where no agency has to defend their record or how great they are or worry about anyone taking their business. With this new approach, the client does most of the talking and presents and discusses its successes and also its challenges. This helps to “clear the air” and contribute to an environment where all partners are working together for the good of the client. We have been a part of these partner days for the last 5-6 years and overall they have been very powerful. Everyone walks away with key solutions to solve our clients’ biggest problems.

How To Succeed With Partner Days

Our most successful partner days include tackling three client challenges and breaking off into groups to solve them. The client assigns an internal representative to lead all the groups. Each group includes one person representing each partner and one person representing the client so he/she can speak to the business. Mixing up the groups like this allows each partner to collaborate and contribute to the problem-solving while also understanding how what is presented affects and/or helps the other partners present. Once the collaboration finishes, the representative presents the ideas and the client is the one who decides what idea is good, as well as the who, what and when.

The key to success with these partner days is coming out of them with key points for follow-up for each partner and adding them to a Who-What-When document. Then, discuss these follow-up points during subsequent partner meetings to ensure your goals are met and everyone is following through. Assign an accountability owner from each group and an owner to each line in the Who-What-When document. Incorporating partner days and follow-up protocols like this allows you to ensure your challenges are resolved and you keep partners communicating with each other.

If you want expert results, you need expert-level clients and this requires working with multiple partners. With this client-focused approach to partner days though, you no longer need to be concerned about a lack of cohesion and communication. You can experience the best of both worlds. 

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