Welcome to the age of the creative partner.
Most big companies are more and more reliant on outside partners – especially for marketing. Done are the days of one agency with departments that handled everything. That “department store” model is dead because it was impossible for a big firm to compete with specialty shops.
But now, companies have a new problem! The new problem is that with more vendors comes more risk. You have to work with a number of companies, and you have to take the time to vet them.
Because if you pick someone that doesn’t perform – it has huge consequences especially in high-profile projects.
So, we wrote this post to give you a quick guide to eliminating most of the risk when working with new vendors.
Here’s a hint. If they don’t have a bold public performance guarantee in place for every client then they don’t stand for anything. Sure, most agencies will make one for you, and guarantee you to get a contract. But that’s not the point. You want someone with a process that’s designed to do something perfectly.
Because when you get one big piece settled the rest falls into place.
But if they don’t have one in place then you don’t know what’s going to happen. The presence of a guarantee in one area generally means that the rest of the project will go as they plan it. It’s an indicator that they’ve thought things through.
Our guarantee is that we will deliver every milestone on time or early or you can get all of your money back. That is the linchpin that drives our whole business because it makes sure that we have that big part in place.
We begin every project – always – with a written plan that goes all the way to the end and includes every major touchpoint. We started this several months ago and it made everything smoother for every client. We used to ‘wing it,’ and we learned that that created random results.
Now we deliver better work with less effort from everyone because every client knows when they’ll need to be available for feedback. Many companies do this on request, but it should be a standard part of every service every time.
This means that our client gets to plan on having resources available for the parts of the project where we collaborate.
Look at their portfolio. Is there some work that is magnificent? Jaw dropping? Are you a little jealous of it? If not, move on.
Have they done work in – or similar to – your industry with success? Ask specifically who did each part. A lot of agencies may make small contributions to the big picture and then try to take credit for the whole piece. Ask what they did, ask how they did it, and ask who else contributed.
We offer client updates every other day, and daily on request.
This happens automatically without them having to chase us.
Why? Because it’s the minimum standard to show we respect and care for our clients. We get it – in video work – so many of our customers are risking their work reputations by choosing us.
For a marketing manager, the one minute video we make together may be the only look-in that the CEO gives on their performance that quarter. So it’s gotta be great. They trust us with their jobs, the very least we can do is show them the same consideration and share progress each day.
There’s no “perfect system” to making choices like this, or reducing risk. However, this will weed out the bad apples and help you keep your gig.
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Christopher Johnson is the founder of Simplifilm, INC., and Flowtility (exit to Telestream in 2015). He's written or produced hundreds of video projects in the 6 years for startups, authors and the likes of Ryan Holiday, Seth Godin, Brad Feld and many more.