agency-feudThe person who coined the phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” probably didn’t have marketing agencies in mind. Nevertheless, there’s a lot that those of us in the agency world can learn from this ancient proverb.

It is an extremely competitive marketing world, and it is fairly common to view other agencies as the enemy — hell bent on fighting you for business and stealing all of your clients. This is a perspective that’s costing you and your clients a great deal of money and value. It is time to start opening your mind to the concept that other agencies may very well be the “frenemy” you need.

A Time of Niches and Specialization

Specializing in a specific area of marketing these days is essential. Only the largest of the large agencies “offer everything.” Most agencies find it much more effective to become really great at a small area of the industry, as opposed to mediocre at many.

Since this is the case, many companies are incorrectly labeling themselves as a “marketing agency” when in reality they are a “content marketing agency,” a “video marketing agency,” or any of a number of niche areas. For this exact reason, targeting other agencies as partners makes perfect sense. If I offer written content creation to my clients, and they suddenly need video production, I should offer this service by partnering with another expert agency who excels in this area. Your agency maintains its niche offering while the video agency gains another client (and in theory is providing the same in reverse to you). Meanwhile, the client is getting quality marketing services from two niche agencies as easily as they would from one. It's a win-win.

Expanding Portfolios

Everyone wants new clients and projects. If you don’t, well, you might want to consider another line of work. But of course you are good at business! When working side-by-side with a “competitor” (who we established isn’t truly a competitor), each side stands to gain more clientele, projects, and work from each other than they would have alone.

Not to mention, by partnering with agencies that provide marketing services different than your own, you will expand your portfolio of projects to include elements that you never could have by just using your own services, and you can offer those new services to your existing clients.

A Shoulder to Lean On, A Teacher to Teach, A Student to Learn

Another large and often overlooked reason to consider collaboration with the competition is to share experiences, horror stories, emerging best practices, and ideas for the future.

All of us in the marketing world have certain moments in time where it feels like the world is crashing down around you — it is simply the nature of the game. Connecting with people in similar situations who have had similar experiences simply reinforces the notion that it’s not just you. Knowing you are not alone when dealing with difficulties can help you maintain your drive.

Anything that expands, promotes, and betters marketing as an industry is good for each and every one of its players. Occasionally working together and sharing ideas, best practices, and success stories improves the overall industry, and it motivates each agency to perform better.

The Agency’s Agency

Of course, I’m not telling you that everyone should hold hands and form a giant super agency where rainbows appear daily and candy falls from the sky. Competition is essential for the industry, and the players in it need to constantly strive to improve. But it is time to start considering how you can leverage what once was considered a competitor’s assets and services to compete more fiercely with your true enemies.


Originally published Oct 15, 2014 5:00:35 AM, updated December 03 2014