Advertising agency owners from across the country joined to publish a book. The intention was to share insights or areas of specialty that helped make each of their companies successful. By working with Agency Management Roundtable, we put together a book of our best practices titled “Agency Owners’ Secrets: Our Best Marketing Advice.” Ask us how you can get a copy of this tomb that’s stuffed with successful agency owners’ top tips.
Mad 4 Marketing was honored to be asked to contribute the following chapter:
What is your Partnership Plan?
Multiply your marketing outreach by creating connections with community partners that touch your target audience.
As an agency owner, I know that many businesses associate advertising companies with creative. You see great ads on television, a super website or an impactful billboard and remark: “How clever is that!” But after 20 years in this industry, I can say that it’s equally important — if not more important — to create partnerships for our clients.
Whether your company is focused on serving consumers or businesses, you need impactful name recognition in the community. When it comes time to get in touch with your target audience, you want that foundation of trust right at your fingertips. But these resources don’t pop up overnight. They need to be researched, initiated and nurtured. Even the most stable of connections or networks needs your energy and attention in order to stay fresh and relevant. Personally, I believe that the time and effort it takes to cultivate and keep those relationships is invaluable.
My agency becomes intimately involved in our clients’ business strategies. We develop or refine branding platforms, link creative with brand positioning, prepare marketing budgets and manage deliverables. But on top of that, we seek out partnerships that position each client in its respective community. Even in our digital world, reputation and word of mouth heavily influence those who are spenders and decision-makers. Therefore, that partnership remains a hefty factor when it comes to our marketing plan for each and every business.
So how do we go about developing the most effective Partnership Plan for our clients? It starts with analyzing the existing Partnership Gap by going over these types of questions with you:
- Who doesn’t know about you that should?
- Who has a negative perception of your company or its products?
- Who do you believe has the most synergistic businesses to yours?
- Which community leaders, local celebrities or sports figures could easily relate to your business or products?
- How about nonprofits? Do you have a passion that relates closely to your business or product offerings?
One example of how we apply this Plan is the approach we took when one of our health care clients wanted to expand into a new county. They faced different competition and had less name recognition than in their home region. Through our extensive connections in the new county they were targeting, we showed them how to integrate with the local community and meet many of its key players personally. We also helped them create effective sponsorships with local companies. This not only ensured better name recognition and streamlined communication to the potential customer base, it created a reciprocal feeling of goodwill and drove new patients to their doors.
Another element we emphasize on behalf of clients is synergy between businesses. When a government agency was looking to provide commuters with a monetary gift incentive, they needed a financial partner to help facilitate gift cards that fit some unusual criteria and large quantities. Through our connections we were able to develop a program and secure the tools for them to exceed their objectives in obtaining new commuter customers.
We also optimize synergies between our own clients whenever possible. When the local college asked us as Agency of Record to promote a new marine engineering program, we hooked them up with our marina management client. This allowed the college to have access to the marina and their accompanying shipyards for a day-long photo shoot, providing the marine program with enough images to be able to produce several collateral pieces in addition to a trade show booth and a new website. The college saved money by avoiding stock photography fees, permit fees, and overall wasting of time searching for venues. The marina benefitted from this introduction by the additional exposure, and having the relationship in place to be able to hire these well-trained students as they graduated.
Another good example is establishing a rapport with political figures. For a major music company, we aligned with those that have a passion for the arts. This effort made the politicians more aware of the importance of music education (benefits to reasoning and math skills, etc.) so they could support or sponsor bills regarding funding of music/arts education programs. The positive exposure led to increased sales of the music company’s products for years to come.
What about clients who have governmental or regulatory constraints? We pride ourselves in delving into your environment so that we can minimize those constraints. When asked by a local governmental entity to coordinate an extensive employer outreach program to large corporations, we were able to pick up the phone and get our client in the door without the potential hassles they might have otherwise encountered. And even on a smaller, grassroots scale, we were able to open many corporate doors for a casual food restaurant franchise owner who wanted to get additional exposure for their lunch menus and catering business by bringing tasting samples and promotional materials to local businesses. In a very short period of time this increased lunch traffic and catering orders.
All agencies can find great vendors to produce a variety of marketing and promotional materials for their clients. We take this a step further by looking at where you can streamline your vendor relationships and bring savings to the bottom line. Knowing the strengths of partners is another way we go beyond creative to make a difference to clients’ profitability. We always keep our ears perked up for those types of resources that are beyond the ordinary.
A partnership that benefits both sides is sustainable!
What’s the key to sustainable and strong partnerships? Exploring and developing liaisons that can develop into mutually beneficial relationships. By understanding a client’s business plan and assessing their Partnership Gaps, your ad agency can begin building them a successful Partnership Plan.