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Great Marketing Requires Great Support

Nov. 15, 2021
Sometimes talented people fail. Do the people you assign to manage your brand and marketing projects understand your expectations?

If you use marketing materials – ads, photos, case studies, websites, tchotchkes, and much more – you will engage vendors to create those materials. The materials your vendors create will become part of how your brand is represented to your audience and in the marketplace. How well those vendors represent that brand is entirely up to you.

Creating a good vendor-client relationship is critical to your success. Not to be too dramatic about it, but your vendors are how you succeed or how you fail. And failing with a vendor can cost you both time and money.

Some of the common vendor-client relationship failures I have seen are:
Not specifying paperweight … leading to a brochure reprint.
Not sharing brand color guidelines … resulting in materials that don’t align with the look of your brand; This one is very dangerous as over time it will erode your brand consistency and the trust it has earned.
Not clearly expressing your layout preferences for a website … resulting in delays as the site is reframed; Depending on the content-management platform it may even mean that the site needs to be re-coded.
Not giving a break-down of common industry terms … leading to ad copy that’s convoluted and non-engaging,

As a consultant, I also get calls from clients when they need support. Just within the last few months, I've had several such calls after a vendor misstep.
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A former client called about a completed project with a vendor. They did not like what the vendor had created and asked if I could give them the name of another vendor that I had used in the past while working with them. Of course. Calling in a second vendor to fix the issue was an additional $2500 expense and delayed the project significantly. But here’s the problem: the client did not tell the original vendor what the problem had been or that there was an issue. It will be very hard for the original vendor to meet the unexpressed expectations.

●  A current client messaged me about issues with an exhibition vendor. This vendor is one I have used myself and consider very supportive. There was a supply-chain issue, and the supports for a specific trade show booth were no longer available. This resulted in drastic changes to the client’s exhibit booth – which the vendor understood. However, the vendor did not offer options that suited the already existing graphics. A clear lapse in communication.

In each of these cases - and many others – the vendor failed. Even if it wasn’t their fault. They are failures because if a client perceives the vendor’s work as a failure, it is a failure of expectations.

In truth, each case also includes a failure by the client. Good vendor-client relationships are a two-way exchange. Being clear with your expectations as well as your approvals and offering feedback will strengthen the vendor-client relationship.

I’ve been in marketing for more than 15 years. During that time, I’ve experienced my share of these failures – from both sides, as I am both a consultant (vendor) and client. Over the years I’ve developed checklists for common projects, standards for materials, and trusted relationships with vendors to minimize errors. I ask a lot of questions and I share a lot of information before starting a project, as either a vendor or client.

These are my top tips for staying “on brand” with a marketing vendor:
-   Give the vendor a style guide and brand glossary.
    -   Style guide: Your colors, your fonts, your logo, etc.
    -   Brand glossary: Industry terms, preferred spellings, name of company, etc.
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Be clear about your expectations for the project.
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More than just communicating what you need, explain why you need it.
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Keep the vendor in the loop on any internal changes about the timing of the project.
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Create a relationship with your vendors. The more often you use a vendor, the easier and faster it becomes to work with them.

Sometimes even super talented vendors fail despite being supported with creative briefs, brand information and instructions. It happens. It happens less with good guidelines and better communication.

The difference between a good marketing piece and a bad marketing piece can be as simple as how your vendor performs. And that performance might come down to what they know about your brand and about your expectations. Set up your vendors for success.

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.

About the Author

Alexandria Trusov | Global Marketing Director

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Director at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.