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Marketing: How Many Vendors Do You Really Need?

It’s not uncommon to go to different partners for different marketing needs. What’s the harm in that? Well… depending on the circumstances the harm can be wasted time, wasted money, wasted impact and lost opportunities. All the things a successful business does NOT want.

Why do clients do it?

The reasons can be well founded… for example, many advertising agencies are very poor at creating logos, so why not go to a logo expert? But often it’s a price-based decision, which ignores intangible costs, or is a misconception. For example, there’s a misconception in the marketplace that websites must come from specialists that only do websites. Yes, some companies (can you say eBay?) need huge, complex, software-driven websites that need serious project management and coding experts, but over 90% of websites can be done by a competent coder. There are certainly other instances where a specialist is needed, but let’s look at the downside of getting too many partners involved.

What are some of the reasons to stick to a minimal number of partners?

  • First and foremost, let’s look at one of your most valuable assets: your time. The more vendors you have the more people there are that need to fully understand your brand essence and business drivers. Many partners means many briefing sessions, and more management of separate hands.

  • With many involved there’s also less brand stewardship, inconsistencies or gaps in design, mixed messages, and off-strategy results. If the executor of a piece didn’t get the research or initial strategy, it can be impossible to do it well. Your prospects encounter big potholes as they move through your marketing map and give up.
  • Specialists often get asked and agree to do things they don’t normally do, even if they are not good at it. We’ve seen web development companies do free logos to win web development work. If advertising agencies are traditionally not good at doing logos…you don’t want to think about what web development companies come up with.
  • If you have a group of vendors all doing different things you can often miss excellent opportunities. How can your promotional agency know that your web partner has created a high conversion landing page that should be the objective of the next promotional campaign if there’s no one making the connections?
  • Finally, if you spend all of your money with one partner, you are a more important client to that partner.

When should you look for a full service marketing firm?

Clearly, large organizations with entire departments that take care of websites, advertising, social media, etc., often need different vendors for each of these services. The key is they have professional Marketing Coordinators to manage it all. But for most organizations, that role doesn’t exist and one vendor is the right approach. The advantage is strategic focus, less time required from you, deep commitment and value and oftentimes, a firm that is as committed to your success as you are.

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