These days, it’s common for clients to work with a combination of  various boutiques, agencies, shops, and vendors in order to make the very most of their marketing investment. While working with multiple agencies can create scalable efficiencies and high impact campaigns for most clients, sometimes scope-creep and apprehension stemming from the risk of other vendors ‘poaching’ one another’s business, can hinder what should otherwise be a well-oiled machine.

Well, good news– I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way!

  1. Let the client set the standard

Your client’s account manager should ideally foster a non-competitive environment, one that enables and encourages collaboration. If the client emphasizes right from the start that fighting over business will not be tolerated, it will immediately set the stage for teams to join together and  bring about creative solutions while harmonizing metrics.

One of the clients that we work at Cardinal Path is very clear  about this expectation. When we sit down with multiple agencies in a room, the meeting is prefaced with a very concise message: “Collaboration is very important to us- if you don’t collaborate, you won’t be invited back.”

  1. Measure it and it matters

We’ve all heard the saying,  “what gets measured gets done”, and I believe that this is also true for collaboration. It’s  in the client’s best interest to ensure that teams collaborate smoothly in order to eliminate redundancies and missed opportunities. Therefore, I would argue that collaboration needs to become a key performance indicator. Once it becomes a KPI, it stays in the forefront of everyone’s mind.

  1. Taking a proactive approach

Sometimes, if the client doesn’t take the opportunity to ensure that collaboration is a priority,  then that is when you, as an agency, vendor, consultant, etc., must do your best to understand who the other players are, and what opportunities you can take to ensure that information flows openly. By building trust at the outset, you can help ensure everyone plays by the rules for the duration of the project.

By adopting a ‘big picture’ attitude, you will shift the focus to the end-goal, and collaboration between all of the entities will enable a culture of transparency and making each other look good.

  1. Start every meeting with a share

When everyone gets together in the  same room, start by sharing a project that you’re working on. It’s a simple concept, but  the act of simply being open and clear about your piece of the puzzle not only allows everyone else to get their opportunity to showcase themselves, but also builds trust and encourages cross pollination.

Be sure to ask  lots of questions – don’t pry, but seek to understand how you can  leverage one another . Getting a sense for which  projects you share responsibility for.

  1. Open the door to conversations

Building productive alliances with people who might otherwise be competitors always poses a unique a challenge.  Start with a clear expectation for collaboration, and then be willing to give insight, information, and expertise – before you start making requests could make the difference between building trust and creating resentment.