Written by Alexandra Drobysheva
Competition is considered the most important factor in business. It encourages agencies to continuously improve their products or services. But today there’s a buzzword for agencies looking to blend two priorities: innovation and cost savings – “coopetition”. As an entrepreneur and owner of a small independent agency, I always try to find the best ways to meet clients’ needs, but my agency’s resources alone don’t always make it. Here are three tips on how to start collaborating with competitors to achieve mutually impactful results.
Recognize the areas where you’re not competing
Business owners have to understand their unique agency functions to find areas that are not supposed to be done in collaboration with a rival. Meanwhile it’s necessary to reveal where you and your competitor agency are trying to get the same job done – that’s where mutual resources should be allocated. On the one hand, it could seem counterintuitive for an agency to collaborate with another agency on a project, as there’s always a risk that they might compete for the same business. But on the other hand, a truly collaborative agency that knows when to bring other agencies to the table is more agile, able to adapt to new projects, and can bring highly specialized talent to different teams.
Share your information
Being generous and sharing knowledge with colleagues on the market is an efficient way to find partners who can play a great role in developing further business processes. Sharing information could be educational (seminars, master classes, etc.) or business development oriented (experience, insights, etc.). Moreover, it’s a great opportunity to improve your own teaching and public speaking skills. It is important to remember that even personal advice and help often become a set point on building long-term partnerships.
Create a community
Last but not least is creating a local community which will eventually grow into an ecosystem. It might sound crazy to gather different agencies who are potential competitors, but I believe that recognizing “the competition” as colleagues is more valuable to my agency and the market.
That is why last year my partner and I launched a community of small independent agencies in Russia and the CIS region – SMALL Agencies Hub (SAH). Our key objective was to create a global community with shared values. We wanted to make our hub to provide members with tools for effective development and raise awareness about the role played by small independent agencies in the marketplace. Today, SAH unites more than 30 member agencies specializing in the following areas: PR, Events, Digital, Creative Production, GR, and HR.
There is not one small agency that works exactly like another so the community is a source where we can learn from each other and ask questions. Also, the community makes you feel like you’re not the only one in the pond. Additionally, it may give you the opportunity to find new clients. We have had cases when members of the hub have given new projects to other members because they have more relevant experience or don’t have resources at the time.
To sum up, I’d like to say that there is no need to be afraid of losing clients when partnering with other agencies. Often such cooperation brings more pros than cons.
Alexandra Drobysheva is a multilingual communications professional and strategic communications consultant for the leading international corporations operating in Russia and CIS markets. Based in Moscow, Alexandra opened up HINT agency after finishing her education in the United Kingdom where she works with clients like Hilton, Total, Tencent, Crate & Barrel, Pantone, etc.