Partnering with Other Firms
There are many reasons to partner with other firms. Here’s the three most common relationships I’ve seen. & as a bonus how to find agencies to work with.
White labeling is ghost writing. Agency Cat has a client. Agency Dog does the work. And Cat gets the credit for Dog’s work. While Dog gets paid by Cat. In most cases Dog behaves as a pseudo-employee. Dog uses Cat’s email address, templates, MCC, slack/redbooth/dropbox, Marin/Kenshoo, Blue Kai, and attends regular staff meetings. The end client assumes Dog is an employee of Cat. Severe consequences apply if Dog poaches client. The power balance contractually speaking is very much in favor of Cat.
I’ve found white labeling mutually beneficial. Our agency white labels for an agency 25 times our size. It’s a stable and healthy relationship. One I hope to continue and expand. I opened my agency in June 2015 and sales were a severe weakness. We hired various sales staff but they all failed. We tried hubspot and email lists… We had a great staff but not enough work. White labeling for another agency helped us stay afloat until we were able to obtain clients of our own. We currently white label for 4 agencies: Texas, Virginia, New York, and California. It helps keep our lights on and is currently our largest source of income.
In this partnership, Cat and Dog are equals. The structure is similar to a joint venture. Both agencies retain their identities and clients are aware there are two companies. Cat and Dog work together to secure new clients and/or complete projects. Work is allocated based on talent and resources. Each agency is responsible for profits, losses, and costs associated with the partnership.
The partnership acts as its own entity, separate from either Cat or Dog. It has its own interest and goals which may differ from Cat or Dog’s personal interests. It’s a smart way to combine capital and expertise while reducing front-end risk.
Our agency has a strong strategic partnership with a development company in Austin. Our CTO, Toni, works with this team on mobile apps and automation tools. She sets the strategy, milestones, and interacts with the client. The development team is our backbone and does most of the coding. We’ve brought in 4 clients into the venture. They’ve brought in 2 clients. We split the profits 50/50.
We call these agencies our friends. We outsource and recommend friendly agencies when presented with work not in our niche. We’ve outsourced graphic design, print, event, and content jobs to local agencies. I view it as paying it forward.
How to Find Other Agencies to Work With
References: 50% of the agencies we work with came through references. The majority of these take two flavors: former clients and former co-workers. Word of mouth is still a big deal.
Social Media: Linkedin provides us weekly opportunities to work with and for other agencies. We’ve turned down the majority of these offers. Most come through to my personal Linkedin profile. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram haven’t created similar traffic. However, we don’t worked too hard on promoting those three platforms.
Communities: A physical community allows you a place to rant about the struggles of agency life. Toni and I attend monthly startup meetings in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. They are a source of inspiration and a nice break from the daily grind. We met the New York agency we white label for this way.
Classmates: I benefit from being pre-med at a large university and having entrepreneur-minded peers in law school. We white label for a college friend in California (15% of our revenue); and we have 3 strategic partnerships in Virginia (10% of our revenue).
Lastly this community…. is a great place to collaborate. It’s incredibly friendly and there are many synergies among our various agencies!!!! You can't collaborate without talking.
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