5 Keys to Healthy Business Collaboration
There will never be a duo as powerful as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Something about their voices just works: the gravel and bourbon of Louis combines with the fur and satin of Ella. I gained The Complete Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong when I married my wife and have probably listened to it a thousand times. I never get tired of it. It’s one of the few albums that has been on every iPod, Zune, iPhone and tablet I’ve owned.
Some relationships are like Ella and Louis . . . they just work. This is true for business relationships just as much as personal ones. Our company has been blessed over the past 15 years with a few relationships that have “just worked.” I’m incredibly grateful for these! I want to say “thank you” and share a bit about what makes these relationships successful over the long term.
Over the years we’ve partnered with stellar companies like Google, Bigcommerce, and – most recently – Mailchimp. But our longest partnership has been with Lewis Advertising. Thirteen years ago we sat with their account rep on the marketing committee of a large radiology practice. We’ve been working together ever since. They’ve brought us in on projects ranging from our state port authority to Nash Heath Care. We’ve been thrilled to be a part of some of their award-winning efforts. Lewis Advertising has made us a better agency, and I’ve loved every minute of it!
Here are the five things that have made this partnership excel:
I was impressed with the quality of Lewis Advertising’s service the first time we met. They continually create groundbreaking concepts and always over-deliver on projects. They’ve got “lagniappe,” and they prove it every day. Dealing with a company of this caliber drives our whole team to emulate this level of service. The moral of this story: only partner with the best!
Honesty and Transparency
Whether discussing billing, deadlines, or project concerns, it’s crucial to be honest. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. We’ve been fortunate to have a relationship with Lewis Advertising that allows us to be open about issues we’re facing, and they can be transparent with us when things don’t go as planned. Every good partnership needs this level of transparency to thrive.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Like Louis and Ella, Proclaim Interactive and Lewis Advertising have strengths and weaknesses that mesh well together. We’ll never have the ad buying and printing expertise that they have. They’ve added value to national brands like Hardees and Perdue in ways we never could have. I call one of their account reps once a month just to ask for advice on a project. Likewise, we’re honored when Lewis Advertising brings us into a pitch to help with the interactive angle or gives us a call to pick our brains about social media or digital strategy.
Putting the Other First
I’ve got three boys at home and I am forever trying to get them to put their brothers’ needs ahead of their own. If this doesn’t happen, the whole house blows up in fits of “its mine” and “he took it.” Over the years Lewis Advertising has looked out for us, and we’ve done our best to build their reputation as well. Sometimes this means referring a client while at other times this means eating a bit of profit so that the other can succeed with a client. In all cases, we’re happy to sacrifice a bit because we know that the long term partnership is of substantially more value. I am confident that Lewis Advertising will do the same for us.
At the end of the day, everything I’ve mentioned above relies on one thing: commitment. Both partners have to decide that they are going to stand behind the relationship. Remember the song, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” where Ella and Louis sing about their differences? They acknowledge that difficulties are inevitable, but in the end decide not to “call the whole thing off” because they realize that they are stronger together than apart. This is true partnership: a willingness to stick with it. I am grateful that Lewis Advertising has shared this determination with us over the past decade, and I’m confident that we’re both stronger for it!