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Vet Your Vendors: What to Look for in a Marketing Execution Partner

Vet your Vendors

Logistics aren’t sexy or exciting. Hardly anyone notices unless something goes wrong.

Your latest catalog wasn’t delivered in time, so thousands of customers missed your big sale.

You sent an email with an enticing offer to 20,000 customers, but the link directed them to the wrong page.

You ordered hundreds of signs for your stores across the country—only to discover they don’t adhere to your store windows.

Many times, these execution errors weren’t even the fault of your organization, but of course your company pays the price. It’s embarrassing, inconvenient and sometimes very costly. Remember, your next campaign is only as strong as the vendors you choose to help execute.

How can you ensure you’re choosing a vendor you can count on? Here are a few important factors to consider.

An Established History

A company that has been in business for a long time is likely to be a strong marketing execution partner. They typically have a track record of happy customers, and they’ll know what it takes not only to get your business but also to complete the job well.

However, that doesn’t mean you should automatically avoid any other companies. Ultimately, credibility and client satisfaction matter more than years in business.

Questions to Ask

  • How long has your company been in business?
  • How long has my project manager been doing this type of work?
  • Can you provide me with a few recent clients I can contact?
  • What would your least happy client say about working with you? Where does your team lack expertise or experience, and how are you overcoming that?

Expertise in Your Industry

A solid understanding of the underlying issues in your industry will help a marketing partner provide you with great service. Retailers typically have to meet tight deadlines in a highly competitive space. Highly regulated industries, such as finance or energy, require exceptional attention to detail when it comes to managing regulatory communications. A vendor with specific experience in your industry will understand the inherent risks and have a plan for mitigating them.

Questions to Ask

  • Tell us about some campaigns you’ve successfully launched within our industry.
  • What is your understanding of the most significant risks in this space?
  • What are your recommendations for avoiding these risks?

Efficient Workflows

Because many of your jobs will be billed by the hour, you’ll want to ensure your vendors are working as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. Look for a vendor that has placed a strong commitment on maximizing efficiency, either through upgraded technology tools that simply do the job faster or project management tools that keep everything moving forward without any team member wasting time asking around about the status.

Questions to Ask

  • What technologies do you use to complete this type of project?
  • What’s the most recent new process you’ve employed, and what problem was it designed to address?
  • Can you tell me about a client project that went off the rails — and how you salvaged it?

Documented Policies

You have a privacy policy, terms of use for materials, a brand bible, and other documented policies that guide your actions to ensure consistency. Why would you settle for a vendor that doesn’t, especially if they’re handling your customers’ personal information?

When looking at their policies, assess whether they provide protection as strong or stronger than your company guidelines. Don’t use a vendor with policies that don’t meet this criteria.

Questions to Ask

  • Can I see your anti-spam and privacy policies?
  • What security protocols do you use for internal information? How about for clients’ customer data?

A Trustworthy Partner

Last but certainly not least, you need a marketing execution partner you trust and one who will give you information quickly, even if it’s in a situation that’s less than ideal. You should get a sense that they are more than a vendor doing a job, but a partner that feels fully invested in your success.

You should be able to assess this through many of the questions you’ve previously asked. However, if you feel you haven’t gotten a good sense of this yet, here are a few more probing questions to ask.

Questions to Ask

  • How will your company work with ours?
  • How will we stay in contact throughout the project?
  • How do you define success?
  • What steps do employees take to inform management of problems that have occurred or problems they foresee?
  • What is your process for informing customers of issues with their jobs?

If something goes wrong with a marketing campaign, your customers are not going to care if the issue was with a third party who helped with the behind-the-scenes details. Your brand is the name they know, and that’s what you need to protect by choosing the right vendors to support you.

DATA Communications Management has the technology and expertise to streamline and manage every aspect of your marketing campaigns. To learn more about how we work with your team, contact us to request a consultation.

Topics Financial Services Healthcare Services Not-for-Profit Energy Retail Services

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