Considerations When Hiring a Strategic Partner For Your Marketing

JOE MILLS

 

Video Transcript

When you’re searching for an outside marketing firm, oftentimes you are trying to decide between buying an execution vendor or a strategic partner. In this video, I’m going to walk through the scenarios in which a strategic partner can be the right decision for you and some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you enter into those engagements.

So the first piece when you are looking for hiring a strategic partner, you’re oftentimes seeking clarity into how marketing can have ownership at a business level. So very often marketing has impression goals or traffic goals or some other metrics that are deeper down the funnel. But you really want to understand from a business objective standpoint, how does marketing have something to own and have accountability toward?

You’re seeking that sort of clarity that can be a good moment for your partner. Another time would be where you have an aligned outcome that you’re looking for. So, if you come without a real reason behind what you’re doing, a strategic partner is going to push you until you have that aligned outcome and it’s going to slow down the process.

It’s going to slow down the decision on what do we begin with? How does the sales process go? What should this thing cost? Et cetera. All that gets slowed down so it’s very helpful when you already have the aligned outcome and you are seeking how do we get there from your partner?

Another key area might be that your team internally needs a specific skill set that you don’t have or you need to expand on its capabilities. So just to use an example there
to make it make more sense. Let’s say that you have built a really excellent digital marketing team internally. You have a strong leader. You have a bunch of people who are great on the digital realm, and they run really good demand and lead generation marketing campaigns. But you don’t have anybody internally who is thinking from a holistic brand perspective.

You could go look for a company, a strategic partner, who is really good in that brand space to fill in that seat for you and ensure that your brand has continuity, and the message is unified across all the efforts that your very capable digital team is already executing on. That’s another moment where your partner can be really helpful for you.

The last one is you’re at a moment of an inflection point of growth where it’s really an opportunity for your business to make a big step forward. This could be I’m entering a new market, I’m launching a new product, there’s been an influx of capital through an acquisition environment or private equity investment, and now you have an opportunity and some expectations on growth.

So you have that outcome, like I need to grow, maybe it’s X percent or it’s X dollars of revenue, because this is a big moment for my business and I need a really unified plan that a strategic partner can come through and help my team figure out how
to do and how to execute on. The biggest piece when you’re buying a strategic partner is that you’re getting shared ownership of that outcome.

A strategy firm will come in and own “how are we going to do this?” And they also take accountability for how good the execution is. So this is different than when you’re hiring maybe an execution firm who’s really just taking accountability for what you’ve told them good looks like. The strategy firm is going to own how good the execution is and they’re going to own whether or not that strategy works.

So as a leader, you’re getting shared accountability with them. And you can say to them, “Hey, you guaranteed that this was going to work, or you had this plan in place that was going to work. It’s not. Why is that?” And they should be able to answer that with you. And so they show up in much more of an equal business stature at the table, sharing that responsibility.

Whereas an execution firm is going to be much more the button pusher who says to you, “This fits inside of your plan. You told us this is what good looks like. Here’s what we executed.”

So as you think about hiring a strategic partner, think about whether or not you have those scenarios internally. And if you’re looking for somebody to have a shared accountability with you, or if you don’t need that level of engagement.

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