Why the Successful Independent Agency Needs an International Network

Apr 30, 2018

So you’re a successful agency owner, running a profitable marketing services operation with decent clients, growing budgets and talented people. Congratulations, you are living the dream! However, success like that typically means there are never enough hours in your day, nor is there enough mental bandwidth available to think about anything else but how do I keep the agency moving forward, my employees motivated, and my clients looking to us as a trusted partner.

By definition, successful business owners are also a bit restless, always thinking about the “what ifs.”

• What if new business dries up tomorrow?

• What if my best people suddenly start looking for another job?

• What if my biggest client expands overseas and says they now need a global partner with more resources?

Having ready answers plus a support network of peers around the world can help you face the future with a bit more confidence.

Six reasons to join an independent agency network

There are many benefits that come with membership of an independent agency network. Here are six that rise to the top of the list:

Virtual scale.

Single market agencies suddenly have scale with “at-the-ready” partners literally all over the world. Tapping the “power of many” means you can readily and confidently take on assignments that reach throughout the world. The best part may be when you are sitting across from a client; you suddenly have permission to have a global point of view on commercial or cultural issues affecting their industry. Tunnel vision becomes peripheral vision.

Top-to-top accountability.

While holding company networks share common ownership, their local offices often compete fiercely with each other and lack a collaborative spirit. On the other hand, independent agency network partners work together because they CHOOSE to, not because they HAVE to which often leads to more successful outcomes for their clients. And, having top-to-top relationships with other member agencies brings with it a powerful accountability that assures each collaborative assignment is embraced with the same commitment to success as if it were their own.

A deep bench.

Whether directed by clients or of their own volition, successful agencies today partner regularly with other agencies. These days, being full service is less about what your agency can do in-house and more about what it can accomplish through its supporting cast of trusted partners. Having direct (instant) access to a roster of tightly vetted, successful and like-minded agency partners gives the independent agency a deep bench of diverse capabilities, connections and in-market support they won’t find anywhere else.

Peer-to-peer leverage.

In this hyper-competitive environment, there are few places for the independent agency owner to turn for perspective and counsel to help with effective decision-making. Why not learn from the experience of others by sharing best practices. Leverage the experiences and connections of the network to make your agency look and feel much larger in new business presentations and tap willing partners to supply research, insights, cases and expertise to help you win that next big client looking to expand globally. Network members are typically eager to help each other, willing to provide feedback, translations and cultural sensitivity checks for clients and campaigns looking to expand beyond their borders.

Internal motivation

For your employees, being a part of something global adds another dimension of excitement. Imagine the motivational “stickiness” when you offer up an employee exchange program to your brightest rising stars to spend a week or two learning from another network member based in London, Prague, New York or Madrid!

 Opportunity Cost

Most high growth brands either market globally today or have aspirations to do so in the near future. As a single market agency, you may not have that part of their business today, but why not? In the end, it comes down to opportunity cost. How much do you currently spend on training and knowledge gathering for yourself and your employees? Where would you start if you needed to quickly find a willing and trusted resource in another country? The investment you make today in creating personal and professional relationships with leaders of other member agencies around the globe prepares you in advance to boldly and confidently take that next step in your agency’s growth, expanding your capabilities and your horizons to face the future. So, what are you waiting for?

Todd Bolin runs a successful marketing services agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a founding member and currently vice chair of Tribe Global, a growing network of 32 independent agencies throughout the world.

To find out more about Tribe Global and what we can do for you please contact Ian Wright, Managing Director of Tribe Global. i.wright@tribeglobal.net or +44 7968 393870