The number one thing to understand about White Labeling Service is: It Can’t Be a Hobby.
You have to commit to it and resource it. It has to be an integral, intentional part of your business. With that comes a Commitment to Scaling It.
If an agency uses you as a white label partner, they want to be confident you won’t break no matter how many clients they have. They want to be sure you won’t break If someone takes a vacation. You can’t fail them, and you have to be committed to doing what it takes not to fail them.
Protecting Your IP and Demonstrating Your Value Beyond Your Services
What can you do to reduce the chances that a partner will cut you out of the picture and offer similar services to your's in-house?
Non-Solicitation/Non-Competes. From the start, you can make sure you have a stable contractual relationship with your partner. A Non-Solicitation/ Non-Compete is an excellent thing to have in place. Non-competes are incredibly valuable if you have a unique offering and vital if you are investing in a team/resources specifically for that particular client. If you are building out a business model for them, you need to protect that investment. On the flip side, you should seldom agree to an agency request for a non-compete. You can counter offer to a non-compete that only addresses specific competitors but not across all similar agency types.
Keep Your IP Close to the Vest. When it comes to your services/IP, decide what you show and what you don’t show. Don't let partners "see under the hood" if you can avoid it. If you have any IP you can hide away, you should do so to protect yourself.
Price for Value, Not Just Services. Look at your pricing models and make sure you price for value, not just the service. Agencies can penny pinch sometimes. They may believe that an in-house FTE doing what you do would be more cost-efficient. They may not take into account all of the overhead of that FTE. They also aren't likely to consider how much better your knowledge and system/process implementations continue to become over time due to your deeper engagement with those systems/processes. That knowledge is incredibly valuable and challenging, if not impossible, for the agency to replicate. Make sure you call attention to that value in your pricing.
Long-Term Partnerships and How to Optimize Them
Insist on TWO points of contact on each side of the partnership. Doing so helps prevent a scenario where an agency side partner manager may be screwing up but is making you the scapegoat. An additional communication channel can limit the possibility of being thrown under the bus by an agency POC.
Regularly rotate out the primary POC on your side. This can prevent a scenario where one member of your team has the appearance of bringing all the value to the partner (and possibly taking those agencies with them should they leave).
How to Sell a Long-term Retainer Contract
Demonstrate Your Value Beyond Your Services Alone. Your expertise should be the thing that agencies value. It’s the one thing they can’t reproduce in-house -- the experience outside their four walls. You know how other agencies and their clients work. You provide valuable feedback to agencies on what works or doesn’t based on what you've learned from other agencies and their clients. You can bring an additional perspective that is much harder for them to replicate in-house. Sharing your expertise will amplify your position and authority with the agency - they can’t simulate the thinking behind the outcomes you’re sharing.
Why a Retainer Model: Even when a system is well-built out, people will change, their goals and needs will change. Maintaining the system, ongoing optimization, accountability - you should build that service into the relationship.
Example: Landing pages. While web pages may seem like a one-and-done deal, things change. That one time build is your first best guess about that landing page. You’ll learn more; the business will grow. So, it makes sense to build into your contract the ability to continue optimizing even a landing page via retention agreements.
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