When to Hire a Strategic Partner vs an Execution Vendor

JOE MILLS

 

Video Transcript

Today, I want to talk to you about how to determine if you need a pure execution vendor, a strategic thinking partner, or somebody to do a bit of both with your marketing initiative. Really, this comes down to a very simple framework that we use a lot here at Element Three in determining what bucket do you fall into? It’s very simple.

It’s a T table with What and How. So if you imagine a standard T table, like a pros and cons list that you might make, on one half, you’ve got what and on the other half you’ve got how. What you know and what you can fill in on this chart will determine for you whether or not you should hire somebody to really gear in on execution, somebody to really gear in on thinking, or somebody to do both of them.

So for What, this is a business objective and double points if you also can correlate that to what marketing takes ownership of. So you might have for example, a revenue target of grow 20% this year in terms of my top line sales revenue. And then you might be able to articulate that means marketing needs to take ownership of these three, five, seven metrics to help drive us towards that business objective. That’s what I mean between those two distinctions.

Over here, this is all the steps and strategy to take to make it come to life. So this is how you achieve what marketing needs to have ownership over and the long-term business objective to make that come to fruition. If you walk into an engagement, and you know all three, one, two and three of those pieces, you should be really looking at do I have an execution vendor or even something like a freelancer — if you can find just a talented individual who can help you with this piece right here. Great. You can save yourself the time and the shopping effort, if you will, and also the overall investment that it will take to hire a full-on agency partner.

If you can answer all of that, you might just need to go toward execution vendor and that could look like a freelancer or a small team who has a point solution. However, as you start to eliminate these numbers of knowledge, you start moving to different buckets. If I, for example, don’t know anything past my business objective, but I have a really excellent in-house team, I could be in a situation where I need to hire an outside consultant to think with me and help determine what does marketing need to own and then what is the step in strategy that my team can take to do that.

If my team doesn’t exist, but I know just this piece, I’m going to probably want to hire
somebody who can do some of both. They can think with me and align marketing to my business objectives, and they can do staff augmentation for me to ensure that we have the ability to actually bring that to life. And it’s done with the right strategy.

So as you continue to eliminate numbers, a couple of things are going to happen. Hopefully you can articulate the business objective. That is going to be a thing
you need to come with to an outside partner to have a lot of success. But as you eliminate those numbers, you get farther and farther down the line of I need more thinking and I need less execution in the immediacy, and my timeline for seeing results tends to extend in that sort of environment.

So just be knowledgeable about that as you go into the buying process of looking for an outside firm and consider how much of this chart do I know? There’s not a right answer. It just depends and will dictate who you should go shop for.

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