Capitol Communicator ad agencies neglect their peopleBy Ron Owens

As a seasoned advertising and marketing professional, I have seen, witnessed or been a part of a few agency partnerships…some of which proved to be successful and some which failed miserably. Through the “school of hard knocks,” sweat equity and experience, I have learned that partnerships can be profitable, if structured and managed properly. Before embarking on any type of business partnership or similar relationship, however, I highly recommend you consider the following factors for creating and retaining a successful union:

  1. Communicate Constantly. Maintaining open lines of communication can prevent disagreements from turning into a war. Hold regular meetings to update partners / associates about the company’s / agency’s progress, review roles, share grievances, and provide constructive criticism.
  2. Share the Same Vision. Each member must agree on the strategic direction of the agency / company. So, if you plan to pursue a certain line or category of business and your potential partner(s) does not agree after hearing your supporting rationale / justification, find another partner.
  3. Find Partners / Associates Who Are Compatible. One of the biggest mistakes that potential partners / associates make is choosing someone who is exactly like them. In my opinion, you should look for someone with complementary skills. But recruit someone whose personality doesn’t fight yours.
  4. Define the Roles. Always choose and assign responsibilities according to individual strengths, capabilities and skills of each partner / associate.
  5. Create A Partnership / Associate Agreement. Such an agreement should include: the roles of each partner / associate, ownership percentage, amount invested by each partner / associate, member’s pay and compensation, company vision, how disputes will be settled, length of partnership, and how assets will be distributed if the partnership / union is dissolved. Have your lawyer draw up the papers and have all partners / associates sign the documents.
  6. Be Willing to Compromise. Not all decisions you make will be clear-cut. When disputes rise, try to find a middle ground that will satisfy you and all partners / associates while still benefiting the business.
  7. Honor Your Commitment. Sometimes a business runs very smooth and sometimes you run into bumps where you clash because one partner / associate is bringing more into the relationship than the other. Clearly indicate the level of commitment that will be required to run your operation.
  8. Respect and Trust One Another’s Ability. You’re in business because of your experience in a particular field. Let your partner / associate do what he or she does best and trust that their expertise will safely guide your business.
  9. Don’t Take Things Personally. Partnerships / associations, especially those among family members, can get personal when tempers flare. Don’t hold grudges and try to let things roll off your shoulders, if that’s possible.
  10. Never Give Up. Partnerships, like any form of business, take time to succeed. So, stick to your goals, settle in for the long haul, and keep the faith.

I contend that if, most or all, of the aforementioned factors, tips and “lessons-learned” are implemented or followed, you will be enroute to establishing and retaining a successful partnership / association. Good luck!

Ron Owens is President of Ron Owens & Associates, a market consultancy specializing in market development, branding and DEI. He is the former Governor of the 4A’s; Lt Gov, AAF; Committee Chair, Association of National Advertisers, and Past President, Ad Club of Washington. DC. Ron was VP, DEI, TMP Worldwide; VP, Bozell Worldwide and Director, Worldwide Advertising & PR, Pitney Bowes, a Fortune 500 Company. He is also the current Vice Chair, Better Business Bureau. Also serving as guest lecturer for the region’s colleges and universities, Ron can be reached via  

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