3 compatibility tests for picking the right Marketing partner.
Partnering with a marketing firm can create a powerful alliance. But it can also be a challenging process that leads to disappointment, frustration and second guessing. I have witnessed too many companies test for the wrong qualities during their review. If you can isolate and test for the most meaningful elements of compatibility, you can improve your odds of picking the right Marketing partner.
Test # 1 = Professionalism– Test for a marketing partner that gives you a sense of security when you asses their professional working style. There will be challenges and rough sailing in any complex marketing endeavour. During your review process, interview fewer Marketing firms in order maximize the time you spend with each. Spend time with the people on the team and assess their level of comfort and confidence as they discuss the resources and tools they use (schedules, requirements, escalation communication, etc.). Learning the people will give you the perspective to project how they will respond under the challenging situations that are bound to come. You are looking for the team that has a working style most compatible to yours.
“Test” # 2 = Plans that get executed – Test for a marketing partner that can prove they are able to link planning and strategy with execution. Even if you are responsible for much of the marketing strategy, be sure to find a team that can effectively bridge the gap between the plan and the execution. Too often companies evaluate a firm’s experience within a particular industry, or around a specific type of deliverable. While both of these are factors in the decision, focus your compatibility test on questions about how and why things are done. Spend time understanding the thought processes of the people on the team, so that you believe in them. This will mitigate relying on the validity of past results, for other clients under different circumstances.
“Test” # 3 = Debate – Test for a marketing partner that is knowledgeable enough to challenge you at the right times. While anyone can argue a point that they think is right, not all partners will have the conviction or expertise to proactively challenge some of you established assumptions. Spend time with the potential team and discuss industry topics or marketing challenges that will solicit debate. They dont need to be isolated to your business, they just need to spark the genuine debate between your team and theirs. This activity alone will help you understand how their style of inquiry and debate will mesh with yours. In order to get the most from a Marketing partner, you will need them to challenge your assumptions but also respect your position under unique circumstances.
In conclusion, partnering with a Marketing firm should be a productive and energizing experience for your company. Rethink your traditional formats for conducting reviews, and use these 3 compatibility tests to focus on what will be meaningful to success.