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6 characteristics of the BEST marketing partners. 

I read a few scary posts last week about the pitfalls associated with unscrupulous advertising and marketing vendors. These are the companies who send unsolicited email sales pitches and cold call your firm to “evaluate” your marketing programs. Their pitches are smooth, and my clients are often fooled by the hype and empty claims.

But let’s not dwell on the negative, so here are 6 attributes of the best marketing partners – the ones who will help you implement creative, relevant, and quantitative marketing programs that actually deliver expected results. Just producing this list may scare off some of the one-SEO-fits-all spammers.

  1. Custom plan. A true marketing partner will try to understand your business priorities, current marketing efforts, target audiences, acceptable acquisition costs, etc. This takes time, and someone will actually need to ask you some questions. An off-the-shelf program may work for a pizza place, but not for you.
  2. Comprehensive program. Terms like social media, SEO, and even blog are overused and overly general.  Although specific aspects of each may be a tactical part of your marketing program, you should receive a much more detailed plan that includes a variety of online (and maybe even traditional) marketing activities.
  3. Relationship transparency. Your reputation is on the line here. A marketing partner will give you access to everything being done on your behalf, including the destination of every piece of content with your name or your firm’s name on it, and every tool used to market your firm and build followers. The real partners will also want you to meet the team responsible for your account.
  4. Active participation – you should expect to provide at least outlines for content developed on your behalf. It is your experience and expertise that clients want to buy, after all. You will also approve the first occurrence of every marketing tactic executed on your behalf, and receive regular updates on program status.
  5. Monthly reporting – this includes the results of every component of your program, including cost-per-activity, campaign level ROI, and trends over time. There’s no magic solution, so a monthly meeting or call will allow you to review results and make adjustments to optimize results and efficiency.
  6. IP Ownership – you should own everything learned or developed on your behalf. That includes content, websites, code, reporting, online accounts (like Google Adwords), etc. You should also have a copy of the password to every account, with administrator access where possible so you can add or remove other uses when required – like before terminating a vendor.

Show prospective vendors that you are serious about your marketing investment. Think twice before writing a check to anyone who wants to optimize two general keywords, focus only on Facebook, or assign a 21 year old account manager. Those who embrace these marketing criteria are most likely to become your long-term marketing partners.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

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