Finding the Right Vendor Partners – A Marketing and Comms Perspective
We all work with multiple service providers in our space, the design agency, the PR firm, the digital gurus, the market researchers, the big data analysts, the printers, the production folks, the content creators and copywriters, and the list goes on. In the hunt for the end-to-end services partner, somewhere down the line, you realize that all of them are best left to what their area of expertise is. So, you end up with all of them on retainers or single assignments and more often than not, you end up with a not so happy experience.
I have navigated this route long enough and one of the primary things I have realized is to work with people you know and the people you trust.
Here’s a quick checklist of sorts that I have put together for those of you who are looking to hire multiple service partners:
Finding the right fit:
- Before deciding on bringing a vendor partner on board, create your need list (much like a wish list, but this one defines and articulates your needs)
- Plan your course of engagement – retainer or a project based model
- Research the market space for fitment or get recommendations from peers
- Shortlist your agencies of choice
- Make sure to get testimonials; talk to their existing clients if possible
- Give your wish list sample tasks and vet them for their skills, quality of output, and timeliness
- Pick your best fit based on these parameters
- Figure out the direction of the relationship and set the stage for engagement
- Build trust and steer around teething troubles which are common, everything takes time to grow and bear fruit
- Figure out and lay down a sound mechanism of measurement, both qualitative and quantitative. This will set your stage for creating the SOW (scope of work)
Once the agency is on board, it is important that they understand you and your organization. I strongly recommend a detailed induction to the business and ensure they are aligned to your overall plan.
Finding the right partner is half your war won, so ensure you take the time to get the right one on board.
Getting the Best out of Your Vendor Partners – A Marketing and Comms Perspective
Right vendor partner is essential to get the right work done within the given time frame. Finding the right vendor partner is difficult and requires a lot of efforts. A lot of factors need to be considered while you’re selecting the right partner depending upon your requirements and preferences.
After you have found the right partner and they are on-board and all set to go, you can focus on getting the best outcomes possible. Here’s a quick list of things to do that can help you manage the lifecycle.
Management and maintenance:
- Much like any other relationship, building a connect with your vendor partner takes time and effort.
- Briefing is a huge aspect, it can make or break the final outcome, so creating a briefing document, that lists all areas of requirements will go a long way.
- It’s good to talk, in person or on the phone, to ensure that what’s on your mind is what has been understood by the team that will create the final output for you.
- Ensure that you maintain consistency, clear lines of instruction, and also provide the time and support needed to develop the final product.
- Meet the teams on a regular basis and hold strategy interactions; overall plan alignment meetings and reviews on a continuous basis and set up a calendar for interactions.
- Much like managing an internal team, efforts to keep the team motivated and happy goes a long way. Be it recognition or team outings, getting the team involved together will always yield better results.
- Give the creators the freedom and flexibility to develop something they believe in is the best fit. Most people in this space are creative, give them a window to express their creativity.
- Communicate and give constructive feedback on a regular basis and help with continuous improvement.
- Monitor and track progress with scorecards and qualitative measurements, and do this activity collaboratively.
- When you build good extended teams, they will bend over backwards in case there are crazy deadlines to meet or things to be achieved overnight. They will always come together and deliver.
Remember to be a good paymaster and to make those payments on time so that there is no break in the delivery mechanism and no cracks in the relationship. We all hate delayed payments, so why put others in the same spot.
I have had the fortune of working with the best agencies so far and I have brought them along with me to every new assignment that I have taken up. They are the rock stars that make it all happen. Invest in your team and drive a culture of happy and collaborative team. You are sure to reap the returns!
Shreya Krishnan heads Marketing, Communications and CSR for First Advantage India. She has over 10 years of work experience across industries and has worked and consulted with corporate groups and start-ups alike. She is a poet, trained dancer, awarded theatre artist and choreographer. She is also a champion of causes relating to the environment, women empowerment and children and has volunteered and worked with organizations like ESG, Greenpeace, CEE, UNEP and others. She is the convener of the POSH committee at First Advantage and a trainer in gender sensitivity, workplace equality and other gender issues.