To build a successful business, you need to know how to market it effectively. However, the truth is that most organizations, especially in the infancy stages, don’t have the adequate resources or experiences to care for all of the essential marketing components of the businesses. This is where hiring external marketing services can come in handy.
However, as a business grows and the number of marketing vendors they work with, it can be easy to start to lose focus and control over its marketing campaigns. This can lead to poor return on investment (ROI), a lack of clear objectives, and frustration with the marketing process. But businesses can save time and money without sacrificing success by knowing how to effectively quarterback multiple marketing vendors while still getting equal value from all their partnerships.
Establish Clear Expectations
One of the first steps to take when you want to get the most out of any marketing service or solution is to set clear expectations about what you want to achieve from the relationship. Of course, every business or even family law firms are unique, and most marketing companies know this. However, simply funding a campaign because you feel like “it’s the right thing to do” isn’t enough to ensure your vendors give you the proper return on your investment.
Setting clear expectations often begins by identifying the business’s goals in alignment with key performance indicators (KPIs) and other relevant metrics that can be tracked and measured. This takes subjectivity out of the equation and ensures you can set clear expectations of how your business defines “performance” and the reasonable success it should be able to achieve while partnered together.
Develop Vendor Scorecards
Anytime you create a partnership with certain SLAs (service level agreements) in place, you need an effective way to visualize how those standards are being maintained. Vendor scorecards are a great data visualization tool that helps identify important performance standards laid out in advance and how a particular vendor is holding up to the business’s expectations. Think of it like a progress report that lets businesses and their vendors quickly identify when areas of improvement are needed in the relationship.
Vendor scorecards can be formatted in a few different ways depending on what data type needs to be tracked. Typically, the scorecard will include a number rating system for each SLA and areas for qualitative comments about how the vendor is performing. Depending on the agreements you have in place with each vendor, reviewing performance on the monthly, quarterly, or even bi-annual basis is fairly standard practice as it catches inefficiencies early enough in the process while avoiding costly spending in areas that aren’t achieving desired marketing results.
Create Clear Communication Channels
While scorecards are a great way to take a quick overview of a vendor relationship’s relative success or failure, they are just a catalyst for what’s most important – creating clear and consistent communication channels between both parties.
Communicating regularly with all of your marketing vendors is critical to maintaining successful relationships and affording the opportunity to challenge initial content strategies, optimize advertising performance, or shift focus if ROI drops. Depending on the type of vendor and the relationship that’s been established, communication schedules can vary greatly, as well as communication methods.
The great thing is that many tools are available to facilitate easy communication with your marketing vendors. Whether using email, video conferencing, messaging apps, or project management solutions, having a designated communication channel in place will help ensure that all those involved in managing marketing projects for the business are on the same page regarding strategy and execution.
Maintain Strong Relationships
To successfully quarterback your relationships with different vendors, you need to develop strong relationships. Of course, no partnership is perfect, and there will be many times when corrective action is needed. But rather than writing a potentially great vendor partnership off by experiencing minor setbacks and fostering a strong bond with your vendors, you can troubleshoot most issues effectively while ensuring you’re meeting each other’s needs. Rather than considering your vendors as mere resources or services, classify them as “partnerships” that represent a critical component of your business and its growth potential.
Manage Budgets and Contracts Effectively
Maintaining one or two vendor relationships usually isn’t too difficult for any business, regardless of their size. However, managing larger and more complex budgets and vendor contracts can quickly become overwhelming as you grow. This is why it’s important to put into place processes and tools to help you keep track of all the moving pieces.
Investing in cloud-based storage solutions like DocuSign and Dropbox are great ways to keep track of all of your agreements and can help you set reminders when renewals are imminent. Creating a schedule to regularly review your contracts against your evolving budgets can better prepare you to make adjustments to terms, fees, and contractual obligations when needed. It also helps you to avoid being locked into a longer-term arrangement than your business is ready to commit to.
Don’t Let Your Marketing Vendor Relationships Fall Through the Cracks
Managing and maintaining relationships with multiple marketing vendors is par for the course for many businesses, regardless of what industry they’re in. But while marketing vendors offer “services” to other law firms or businesses, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be actively managed as if they were a partnership.
By keeping close tabs on your relationships with vendors, putting into place processes and tools to facilitate regular communication, and managing budgets and contracts effectively, you can ensure that all of your marketing projects remain on track while driving maximum ROI for the business. Doing so will not only help you maintain successful vendor relationships but also maximize the value that your business gets from its partnerships.
Author Bio: Maxwell Hills is the founder of Hills Law Group, a premier Orange County divorce lawyer law firm with a concentration on high net worth divorces. Max’s entrepreneurial career stretches back to his teenage days when he had his music used in Grey’s Anatomy and ESPN. Today, Max has used that experience to build Hills Law Group with 0 customers and $0 in revenue to a respected firm in the industry.