Part 5: Choosing a Marketing Partner
When it comes time to select a marketing partner, what you don’t know can hurt you. Careful attention should be paid to the intersection between your needs and the needs of a potential marketing partner. Not all vendors are created equal; many vendors have areas of expertise or specialization that may or may not align with your specific set of requirements for effectively growing and promoting your practice.
The reality is there are 4 areas that you need to be thinking about when you define what you expect from a vendor:
Your vendor should play a key role in marketing strategy and integration by helping you to effectively navigate:
- Marketing strategy and integration
- Brand development
- Information architecture and usability
- Project management
- Clinical and industry knowledge
- Legal and ethical expertise
Take the time to verify that the creative capabilities of a potential Web vendor are in alignment with your needs and expectations in regards to:
- Website design
- Campaign conception
- Animation and video production
Technical expertise is at the heart of most of what you’ll be doing online. You’ll ultimately want a partner who can provide:
- Custom engineering
- Web development
- 3rd party system integrations
- Lead tracking and analytics
The last piece of the Web vendor puzzle you’ll want put in place has to do with the marketing capabilities of a potential vendor. Make sure a potential vendor has expertise in:
- Search engine optimization
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Paid placement
- Local optimization
- Online PR and reputation management
You’ll want to examine potential vendor’s proposed solutions in regards to price and value, examine work samples and results, and check references. As you research potential vendors, take the time to ask these key questions:
- If you have an existing vendor, how long have you worked with them?
- Do you have a dedicated account representative that you trust? Has the relationship been stable and rewarding?
- Is the vendor proactive or reactive?
- Did they deliver on time and on budget?
- How is their communication?
- How are their results? Have your needs been met or exceeded?
- What influenced your selection? How do they compare to your previous vendors?
- If you ever decided to leave, do you trust you could part amicably? Do you own your site and creative assets?
- Would you recommend them to a friend?
- What else would you like to share about your relationship with the vendor?
Bad Vendors Cost Big; OK Vendors Cost More
At least with bad vendors you understand that you’re not getting the performance you deserve. However, with an OK vendor, it’s easy to become complacent. And, in that complacency, opportunity cost remains hidden and you’ll end up just idling by.