There are many jobs and responsibilities that companies choose to outsource. Yet, there is something a bit more exciting about outsourcing marketing. Perhaps it’s because you’re bringing someone else into a real position of power over your brand. Certainly, new eyes on your marketing can really change a business. However, this can also make it an uncomfortable venture. Who are you going to entrust your brand to and how do you know if they’ll take it in the right direction?
This is especially important now because marketing has become so much more than driving sales through only product/service messaging. Now consumers are increasingly interested in the wider views, values and personality of a brand. If won over by that generations Y and Z are far more likely to be loyal to that brand. Therefore, when you are outsourcing, aligned views, values and, to a certain extent, personality, is essential.
Through various news stories over the past few years, we’ve seen how important association is. You cannot, for instance, be an environmentally friendly brand and work with suppliers who aren’t. This goes for your marketing partner too.
Aside from this, most of us are striving for fulfilment, ease and enjoyment in our working lives and therefore getting on with your business associates cannot be underestimated. Of course, that doesn’t mean handing out contracts to your ‘mates’. Who would do that?
The question is, how do you choose a marketing partner with aligned values?
It should go without saying that you should meet with more than one potential marketing partner. However, because we’re so busy you can see how this may not happen. Our advice would be to book multiple appointments, preferably on the same day or at least in the same week so you’re better able to compare them. When you meet with one person you risk getting so far down the line that you agree to partner up because there comes a time when a decision just needs to be made.
Selecting a marketing partner is such an important process that it simply cannot be done over email. Perhaps not even over the phone. We strongly advise meeting over Zoom or in person. It’s very important in terms of assessing rapport. Furthermore, emails are often scanned and calls rushed through which means we aren’t entirely focused.
During the pandemic, Zoom has not only been necessary but has become an asset. Seeing someone in their own environment can often mean you get an even better insight into their personality, because we are generally more relaxed at home and more ourselves.
Go beyond the project
If you’re seeking a marketing partner who is going to be aligned with the vision and values of your company then you’re going to want to get to know them. This means going beyond business talk and discussion around the project. Don’t be afraid to get informal. So many people answer interview questions and such with the standard learnt responses. The ones that employers and business partners supposedly want to hear, which makes it difficult to truly know whether someone is a good fit for your company. Remember, it isn’t just about your business goals when you’re entering into a partnership, it’s about theirs too because that is going to come into your working relationship. It’s likely to influence how they work and what direction they’re going to want to take your business in.
For instance, if you are a small business with family values then someone whose goal is to become a future marketing partner of Facebook or Amazon might not be right for you. Or, if you are selling products to older consumers then you might not necessarily need someone whose passion lies largely in social media marketing.
Yet it goes beyond the direction someone might take your business in. It’s also about what is going to make for an enjoyable and hopefully even inspirational working relationship. If you’re in the care sector then it’s probably important to work with a compassionate person.
If you’re a beauty brand then somebody who is interested in that market will be a better advocate for you than someone who might feel it’s trivial. To be clear, that’s not to say you necessarily need an absolute expert in your niche but you do need someone who is excited to learn about it and who is going to enjoy getting involved in the space your business is in and the values it reflects.
You don’t always get to know these things when you’re talking business. You get to know someone by talking about their day. By learning about their interests and wider passions.
As previously stated, many of us are well trained in picking up on what businesses want to hear which can create a bit of a fog. However, there are many things to note that can help you get a fuller sense of a potential marketing partner.
One is, are they asking you questions about your business? Someone who isn’t meeting with you to find out what your company goals are, how your business currently operates and what you want from this relationship is unlikely to tailor their approach to your business. There are many agencies and marketing partners out there who apply blanket solutions and strategies for clients. That’s probably not what you want and someone not asking enough questions can be a red flag for this.
How do you feel when they are talking to you? Take note of your own body language, whether you feel calm or confused. Whether you feel comfortable telling this person what you need from them. Sometimes, it’s not about how capable someone is, it’s about instinct. All of us probably have examples of when we have gone against our instinct because we couldn’t find logic within it. The common narrative? We always regret it.
Lastly, we’d advise looking for those who listen more than they talk. Of course, your goal is to find out what they can do for you. However, they should be there to find out how they might be able to elevate your marketing and they can only do this by asking and listening. Only then can both parties be sure if they are going to make a good team.
As we progress through a working life revolution that has become more about balance and a sense of fulfilment than ever before, it’s important to choose our business and service partners with this in mind. Be sure your values align with a potential marketing partner by talking with them about their own values and ethics.
Busy as we all are, there’s possibly no bigger influence on our business success and very enjoyment of our work than who we work with. So, for both companies and for marketing partners too, the time taken to get to know one another is never going to be wasted time.