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The power of frenemies

Joshua Palau, senior director of digital innovation, social media, and search at Johnson & Johnson offered attendees at iMedia Agency Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona a look at the challenges and opportunities related to the diversity of today’s marketing teams. Throughout the Summit there were a lot of references to the death of the AOR, which has been replaced with a composite team of in house resources, agency partners, solutions providers and publishers all working together. So how do you make these complex teams work well together? Palau offered this list of suggestions as a framework for success.


Define the DRI (directly responsible individual)

Someone needs to be in charge — make sure it’s clear where final decisions get made.

Find a problem solver

There are people who are great at getting tactical things done and others whose strengths are figuring out how to tackle the issues. Find this group of people and let them help direct processes.

Accept that everyone is selling

Everyone has something to sell — after all, we all need to make a living. Solve this challenge by starting with trust and listen to the people who care about your business — not just in making the sale. You’ll find them quickly and can weed out the sales focused partners.

Provide transparency

Share information, make roles clear, and ensure that everyone on the team has access to what’s relevant to them — as well as an opportunity to see the bigger picture.

Use a collaboration of rivals

Service capabilities are bound to overlap. As long as roles are clear, rivals can work comfortably together (and they may even learn something from each other).

Don’t compare

Palau shared pictures of his two daughters and talked about how different they are from each other. They’re both great kids, and you need to resist the temptation to want one to be more like the other. After all, the very reason you have different resources is that they bring different skill sets to the table.

Once these elements are in place, you then need to focus on communication. You should have open lines of communication that let everyone work directly together — but also set up rules for response. The client may want to ask a service provider about a specific opportunity or tactic to start the discussion, but then the service provider might need to respond through the agency to ensure it gets factored into the holistic plan.

It’s inevitable that there’s going to be competition among your resources, but with a few guidelines, you’ll have a team of frenemies that will all work well together to focus on what’s most important — the success of the team collectively.