Many organisations expect Marketing relationships to work 'right out of the box' and they're frustrated when they don't. A successful marketing relationship requires a mutual commitment of respect.

Why treating your Marketers as partners and not suppliers works best

A one-sided relationship, where one partner doesn't take the time to understand the other, is a recipe for disaster. If you want a successful Marketing partnership, build a more balanced partnership. 'Yes', you're footing the bill, and 'yes' you want to achieve your business goals, but if you don't take the time to build trust and mutual respect, your marketing relationships will never get out of first gear.

Suppose your external marketing providers are fixated on doing what you want them to do, rather than what you need them to do. In that case, you will be disappointed, frustrated and ultimately unsuccessful.

Starting the way you want to finish

On average, Marketing relationships in Australia last 2 years. When you consider how long it takes to find the right external marketing team, to have them understand your business and your goals, then the time it takes to exit a relationship, it gives you little time to get real results. Starting a Marketing relationship with the intention that you will be still working together for the long term makes sense. A longer-term relationship allows both sides to build trust and understanding. It enables your marketing partners to build a granular understanding of your clients and target audience and for both sides to build on initial wins and create long term, sustainable, predictable growth.

The increasing role of Marketing relationships

On average Marketers worldwide now invest between 5% to 20% of revenue on marketing activities. If you're making such an investment, then you want to make sure that your Marketing partners know what they are doing. The best way to understand this is with a sit-down. Have an open, free-flowing conversation. Try to get inside their heads. Are they looking for their next big win, or are they looking for long term relationships? Do they see you as a stepping stone to a 'better' client, or do they seem to be the people who will invest the time to understand you and your business? Have they met similar challenges to yours, and what were the results? Try to find a Marketing provider where you have a day to day relationship with the principles, rather than an organisation where you are dealing with a revolving door of contacts.

Don’t be too prescriptive

Good managers give Marketing partners enough room to prove themselves. With the right relationship, you don't need to be prescriptive. You bring these fresh eyes and expert skill sets in to fill gaps in your business. Let them do their job and if they don't, find out why and fix the problem. If you dictate the strategy and terms from the outset, then you can't be surprised that you don't make progress.

Respect and honesty count

You want all of your personal and professional relationships to be based on respect, honesty and trust. The problem is that you've been burnt before by Marketing relationships that have failed. Shakespeare wrote 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves'. If we're honest, we all have some fault in failed relationships. Sometimes it's as simple as we trusted too much or set unrealistic expectations. We should learn from previous mistakes; however, we need to start every new business relationship with a clean slate. Take the time to find out if a new Marketing provider fits with you and the culture of your organisation. Understand if their intentions are pure and they have the work ethic to understand you, your customers and your target audience. Set realistic intentions and make sure they have both the resources and time to show you what they can do. In the long term, you'll be glad you did.

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About Craig Harris

Craig Harris is an award winning copywriter and 30 year veteran of the Australian marketing sector.