This is an age of specialization. Your agency or firm has it’s specific areas of specialization, and that’s why clients keep coming back to you. It’s what you’re great at, and what you’re known for.

Whether it’s public relations, or photography, or SEO services, marketing communications, graphic design or whatever you do — you do it better than anyone.

Inevitably though, clients will ask you for services that are outside your core strengths. So what do you do? Well, you have a few choices:

  1. Tell the client you don’t do that, and leave it at that.
  2. Develop the capability in-house.
  3. Partner with an outside firm that specializes in what your client wants.

Option #1 is kind of a cop out, and I can’t imagine many people reading this article who would take that route.

Option #2 may be a good choice if you expect this client and others to have a regular need for that service.

Option #3 is probably the most practical solution in most cases.

So let’s say you choose Option #3. What is the best way to partner with an outside firm?

White label

In this type of relationship, the partner firm works anonymously through your firm. Its identity is a carefully guarded secret. On a practical level, this can be a hard illusion to maintain, for obvious reasons. So why might you choose to white label your partner firm? Well, maybe you don’t trust them. You worry they might start a direct relationship with your client, who you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. But if you don’t trust your partner, why are you partnering with them in the first place? Another reason might be that you’re concerned your client might think less of your firm if you can’t “do it all.” But in reality, clients today expect and appreciate your ability to bring in best in class partners when needed.

Strategic partnership

So that brings us to the idea of a strategic partnership. This is a situation where you firm has an ongoing, trusted relationship with another firm that brings unique expertise to the table. Your firm remains completely in control of the project and the client relationship. At the same time, there is open communication and coordination between all three parties. A strategic partnership can work well if there is:

  1. An element of trust between you and the partner.
  2. A healthy spirit of collaboration on the part of both teams.
  3. An effective communication and project managements system in place.

Allied Pixel has been doing this for 23 years, and it works in both directions. We serve as a strategic partner for other firms, and other firms serve as strategic partners for us. We’ve found the best partners are the ones who are in it for the long term and who communicate openly and honestly with each other. And it doesn’t hurt to really like them, too. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them.

You can learn more about how we partner with firms here.

And please get in touch with me if you’d like to talk about partnering, in either direction.