Many years ago I received an invitation to an inter-agency summit. I hadn’t been to one, and my first reaction was discomfort. I felt like I was invited to take a staring role in a cage match. Surely all of these agencies were secretly gunning for my piece of the business, right?

Well, that was years ago. I’ve learned a few things and now I see the value rather than the threat in inter-agency summits.

If you’ve never attended an all-agency summit, it’s the brand’s effort to bring the smart minds of agency partners into one room. The brand’s efforts to break down walls, open lines of communication, receive feedback, give feedback, build relationships at all levels, commit to change, and ensure that a team is built or strengthened.

Having now attended a few of these summits with different brands over the years, there are some universal things I’ve learned. If you’re an agency person, keep these things in mind:

  1. Know your role, and know how it fits into the bigger picture. Every agency walks into the summit with a role. You may be the creative agency. The TV buyer. The print group. A vitally important lesson is to know your role, and know how it fits in. At Booyah we are experts in DR digital. We work best with a team of other experts who are willing to lean on us when it comes to ‘digital acquisition’. We work at our highest and best along with a team of experts in their specific function. When everyone knows their position and responsibilities, the client can build a high-performing team.
  2. Participate. For summits to be successful, you (the agency rep) have to participate. I’ve sang karaoke, built TV stands, and line danced at these things. I’ve also stood in front of rooms with C-level execs and provided constructive feedback as to what does and does not work in their marketing programs. All these situations have a certain level of discomfort – but you have to participate to be successful.
  3. Be willing to change the way you work. Every summit I’ve been attended has ended with participants (both on the brand side and agency side) committing to change. That could be change in how you communicate, how you plan, how often you meet as an all-agency group in-person. The best summits and the best groups of attendees are those willing to change. To make compromises in the way they work, and to make sacrifices for the greater good. The greater good being the success of all parties – clients and agencies alike.

If you’re on the agency side and have not been to one of these, get yourself an invite. If you’re a brand and you’re not hosting inter-agency summits… clear the calendars for 2.5 days… you won’t regret it.

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