Have you ever had a difficult time hiring a vendor? Even with years of experience in a particular area, it can be a time-consuming process. It’s even more difficult if you’re hiring a vendor for a function you don’t know very well.
Vendor selection is an important part of the marketing process because few companies have the resources to complete every project in-house. For example, you may need a vendor’s expertise and resources to
- Write, design or produce sales literature, ads or other creative materials
- Design, write or develop your website or online campaigns
- Run a telemarketing campaign
- Develop your media plans and buy media
- Provide email or search marketing services
- Manage the print and fulfillment process for a mail campaign
- Handle publicity
- Write messages and slogans
There are many benefits to outsourcing; you can gain deep industry experience, access new technologies, or save money thanks to efficiencies a vendor can provide. But it’s important to carefully evaluate and manage your vendors to reap those rewards.
Do you see your company in any of these scenarios?
|Best Case||Neutral Case||Worst Case|
|Your vendor delivers great results on time and on a fair budget.The vendor is easy to work with and enables you to focus on other things, making you more productive. A great vendor relationship can truly enhance your business.||Your vendor delivers acceptable results at the price you expect.You probably need to keep on top of the vendors to make sure deadlines are met, and you devote time to properly manage the relationship.||Your vendor provides poor work, is overpriced, doesn’t meet important deadlines, and/or is difficult to work with.In the worst case, you lose time and money trying to manage the vendor; you may have to fire the vendor and start from scratch.|
Marketing Vendor Selection Key Concepts & Steps
Before you begin
Next time you need a vendor for one of your projects, use this process to find, evaluate and select the best person or company for the job.
Define your needs and timeline
If possible, determine what you’re looking for before you start your search. You may want to set an initial budget, then develop a timeline for your search, especially if you have important dates to hit.
Identify and analyze vendors
Use the web and ask for referrals to find a list of qualified vendors. Develop a list of qualifying questions and narrow the field to a handful of companies.
Create your RFP
If you’re looking for very simple, straightforward services, you can ask bidders to provide a proposal and quote. For more complex or intangible projects, it’s better to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) that asks bidders to respond to very specific questions in a consistent fashion. A standard RFP is especially helpful when
- The vendor is providing a comprehensive service
- The project is intangible or has many elements, such as a website
- You have very specific evaluation criteria and need to compare “apples to apples”
- You’re evaluating a large number of bidders (more than four)
Evaluate, negotiate and award the project
- Rate your bidders on the important criteria and narrow the field.
- Negotiate pricing and terms with your finalists, but remember the adage “You get what you pay for.” Don’t just choose the lowest bid – choose the vendor that best meets your criteria for success.
After Marketing Vendor Selection
Continue to improve your vendor research, RFPs, and vendor management. Most companies use a variety of vendors over time, and good vendor selection and management will help you improve results.