If you’re using more than one firm for marketing activities, introduce them and make them a cohesive team.  You’ll save yourself time and reap the benefits of teamwork.

As a marketing manager, you rely on varied resources, both internal and external for many things.  Without realizing it, you may have compartmentalized different teams and created for yourself additional work in managing redundant input. Streamline your work and get better outcomes by bringing your separate resources together as a team.

Even competitors can work amicably hand-in-hand if the ground rules are clearly spelled out at the beginning of a project.  As the person calling the shots, it’s ultimately your job to keep everyone honest.  What is sure to sour any collaboration is if one vendor tries to poach work that should be another vendor’s responsibility.  The result is distrust and a defensive attitude that creates barriers, rather than removes them.

An example from personal experience may be helpful in illustrating my point.

My agency works with a number of clients on their trade show strategies.  We’ve been successful at sourcing exhibit builders and working with them as our vendor to achieve my client’s goals.  However, I also work with clients who have retained the services of a specific firm to handle the construction, storage, shipping and overall management of their trade show properties.  In both instances my agency will do the graphic design work for what will be displayed.  And with our in-house 3D capabilities, we can even design and produce visualizations of the booth layout for our clients to review and approve throughout the process.  These are services that exhibit companies also offer, so in several instances, we could be competing for the same slice of a client’s marketing budget.  But, we don’t compete.  This is because the marketing manager we work with has clearly asserted their authority and divvied up the tasks and everyone involved knows the boundaries of their responsibilities.  We’ve become a cohesive team all working together to achieve the common goal of the best trade show experience for our client.

Here are some quick tips to help you lead your team and bring them together:

1. Clearly define roles and responsibilities. Start with a kickoff meeting to discuss the project with all parties.  Then, outline who does what based upon areas of expertise, capacity of each vendor, costs and your personal comfort level.

2. Establish budgets.  Individual budgets for each vendor are key.  This is a requirement in order to successfully manage a project.

3. Communicate as a team.  To keep all parties up-to-date on the progress of the project, be sure to be inclusive with your communication.  E-mails should be sent to all primary persons of contact for each vendor firm.  Regularly scheduled conference calls, in-person meetings or virtual meetings are highly recommended to keep everyone on the same page.

4.  Be the team leader, not the middle man.   Encourage direct communication between your vendors.  Many things can be handled between your vendors without your involvement, like confirming production specifications. The goal is to avoid creating redundant communication by putting yourself in the middle of every step along the way.

5. Be the enforcer.  Ultimately the buck stops with you.  So, if one of your vendors is overstepping their bounds, or slacking off on their responsibilities, you owe it to yourself and the other vendor to bring them back in line.