Most people want to live and work in a world of partnerships. Partnership means that everyone is on the same team, working together towards a common goal. Everyone contributes in different ways, but all have an equal vested interest.
This is no different when the relationship is between an agency and affiliates, or, as we prefer to call them at AP, marketing partners. As an agency, we spend a lot of time and effort working towards our clients’ goals, keeping accounts serviced to the highest level, and building strategic partnerships. When focusing on so many performance-based facets for our clients’ programs, it can be easy to forget that we are someone’s client too: the marketing partners’.
Here are four things to keep in mind when building and maintaining a quality relationship with your marketing partners and being a good client to them:
1. What is good for the goose is good for the gander
As an agency, we appreciate how important it is for our clients to provides us with as much information and data as possible. To be strategic and service their account to the best of our ability, we may need information that is outside the scope of our day-to-day work. For example, performance trends for other marketing channels, internal operational changes, or even new products or services that may be outside our program offerings.
This is also true for our marketing partners. In order for them to provide us – and the brand they are promoting – with the best content and partnership possible, they too need quality information, data, and resources. If the flow of information from our client stops with us, then we hinder their ability to meet expectations. So, just as we expect our clients to be a good partner to us, we need to do the same for our marketing partners (aka “affiliates”).
2. You catch more flies with honey
Our marketing partners’ success equates to our success and, ultimately, to our client’s success. If our expectation is for a marketing partner to always perform at the highest level, even if that means making sacrifices to ensure that this happens (e.g. taking a smaller margin or a lower commission to help improve performance metrics), then we need to treat them with the same appreciation and respect that we expect to receive from our clients. If a campaign is successful, share in that success with them; communicate to them that you value their efforts; and treat them like the valued partner they are.
3. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole
All parts of a partnership have different strengths and weaknesses that they bring to the table. That is what ultimately makes the strongest whole. For example, as an agency, our clients rely on our affiliate expertise, strategic approach, and creative collaboration. They may have some of those capabilities, but perhaps not to the depth and degree to which we do. Or, they may just not have the internal bandwidth to manage the day-to-day aspects of a program.
This same idea holds true for our marketing partners. They often have content expertise, ideas, experiences, relationships, and creative ideas that we lack within our agency. By being open to our marketing partners’ perspectives and listening to their feedback, we’re able to offer more value to our clients and be a better client to them; as a result, everybody wins.
4. Heart to heart
It is never easy to be the bearer of bad news or to have conversations that you know may become confrontational. When it comes to addressing required changes with a partner, be it to their program or poor performance, it is important to share the reasoning behind why the relationship needs to change. In most cases, these decisions are based on improving the overall health of the program, not because of a something personal, so be sure to communicate that effectively.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford
At the end of the of the day, your agency, your clients, and your marketing partners are all a part of the same team. You are partners with a common goal, so be sure to treat each other in ways that reflect that.
To learn more about our approach to working with clients and marketing partners, listen to our Outperform podcast episode, “What the Heck are Performance Partnerships?”