Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why I Hate Triangle Relationships – A Rant

Your client hires you as their marketing firm. Then they, separately hire an SEO firm, or website developer, or PR firm, or etc., or etc. And, of course the client expects you to both to play nicely and provide integrated services that build on each other … "the sum of the parts ..." and all that.
Hint: This is not limited to marketing relationships. Not nearly.
All well and good until something doesn't work. Or there is a new project on the table. Or new data appears. Or a process needs to be developed. Or feedback is required. Or it's a Tuesday.

Then you get this unhealthy triangle where two firms are fighting for attention, respect, information, and, worse still, budget. And you, the client who thinks competition is a good idea, end up with fighting sibling that aren't related by blood so have no sticky red reason or impending reunion to bury their hatchets. And you are doing double work to keep both teams up-to-speed.
The single line worth reading in this post:
Set up a straight line relationship from you to a lead to a sub.
Take it from someone who has been part of many triangles and been the lead and sub for many, many projects: Avoid the triangle relationship like the plague.
If I, as the sub, cannot take direction from your chosen lead, then give me two options: 1) shut up and 2) leave. Or a third option: 3) shut up and leave.

At worst, I will sit back and wait until the lead's total incompetence is discovered and I get promoted or, in a better case, we'll find mutual ground (with your best interests in mind). In the best case scenario, we'll get along and develop a business relationship, perhaps in the same lead-to-sub line or perhaps reversed, but always thinking of you every time another client sends us a check.

But please do not expect that you can magically make the triangle relationship work.

You can't.


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