Collateral

4 Steps to Successful Vendor Management

A good vendor can be a Godsend.  A bad vendor can ruin your life.  But never fear, there are some easy ways to select and maintain a vendor.

Image result for designer cartoonKnow Where to Find Professionals

Finding professional vendors in the first place can be tough.  I highly recommend www.thumbtack.com for finding new vendors.  You simply submit your project requirements, deadlines and budget.  You pay nothing to submit a project.  Then, within minutes, vendors are responding with proposals and pricing.  There is no commitment to hire anyone.  You can read reviews, see their portfolio and ask follow up questions.

I have used this to hire bands for parties, caterers for grand openings and photographers in cities I can’t visit.  Highly recommend it.

Ask to See Their Portfolio

Most vendors worth their salt will show you their portfolio off the bat.  If they hesitate, move on.  Nothing to see here.  They’re not ready to be in the big leagues and you can’t afford to take that type of gamble.

Vendors that will likely have some sort of portfolio of work to share include:

  • Freelance writers
  • Graphic designers
  • Giveaway manufacturers
  • Printers
  • Developers
  • Photographers
  • Anyone who calls themselves a “marketer”

Be critical when reviewing portfolios.  Don’t just accept good as good enough.  Think carefully about what you need and can afford.  If $10 more an hour gets you 10x the qualify, pay it.

Make It Obvious Why Professionals are Worth the Investment

It is not uncommon to start at a job that is not used to paying for vendors at all.  They expect to do everything in-house.  You may have to start off by doing a lot yourself.  But once you’ve proven that out, I recommend calling your favorite photographer, graphic designer, developer – whomever – and ask them to do a trial project for you.  You do your version, they do their’s.

Here’s an example of when I’ve done this myself.  Guess which one was professionally done.  I rarely have to explain the value of vendors anymore.

Professional Comparison

Keep Your Friends Close and a Good Vendor Closer

Eventually you’re going to start a new job.  Established marketers usually have a stable of vendors they prefer to work with.  Why?  They’ve cultivated those relationships carefully over many years that are built on trust, mutual admiration, and consistency.

Image result for designer cartoonIf you find a vendor that you work well with, fits your budget and does consistently strong work, keep them.

But it goes both ways.  I know you’re paying for their time, but a professional relationship goes far beyond money.  If it were just about the money your boss could scream at you any time they liked.  But they can’t if they want you to continue to show up to work.

The key is to treat your vendors like coworkers.  Don’t be afraid to assign work, but don’t jerk about it.  Have clear deadlines and expectations and then say thank you when they’re done.  Did they go above and beyond at the last minute while on their family vacation?  A hand-written thank you note or a $5 Starbucks gift card could go a long way to preserving the professional relationship.

Another way to preserve a strong working relationship is establishing a “scratch my back” agreement.  Ask them if you could create some sort of referral credit.  If you refer new clients to them, you get a little discount in your next bill.  Everybody wins.

Portfolio Feature: zColo Magazine – Spring 2017 Edition

Cover_Issue2I have been MIA for a while now.  This is mostly due to my deep involvement in producing the 2nd zColo Magazine for work.  This has been a labor of love – as well as surely taking years off my life.

I invite you to peruse the magazine’s online version.  Feel free to leave me any questions in the comment section below.

I used Lucid Press to produce the magazine.  I find it fairly simple to work with, but creating an online magazine and converting it to print can be a pain.  They do allow InDesign uploads in BETA version if you’re exploring a digital content strategy of your own.

In this edition I chose to highlight my organization’s Colorado roots as the cover story, but I also highlighted some other recent professional projects.  Namely I did a visual tour of our latest Dallas data center, which I redesigned from the bottom up.  This foray into interior design was so much fun, but it was definitely challenging to find a balance between my design priorities and accomplishing zColo’s economic goals.  I’m pretty proud of the outcome, I must say.