Digital marketing is a must-have for competitive businesses, but not all players can be all things. According to Simon Bestbier, e-business manager at Realmdigital, different digital media companies specialise in different areas. Creative designers might not be proficient in development, integration and SEO, and vice versa.
“Finding and assembling the right partners is the first and most important step in launching a digital marketing campaign. Online, mobile and social innovations are moving at a rapid pace. To stay on top of trends, and to ensure you implement a holistic campaign, look for partners, not just one provider,” he advises.
Bestbier offers the following advice for companies that are new to digital ventures and are looking for digital providers to assist them in launching a campaign:
- Flexibility. It’s become a trend for agencies (digital, ad, development firms, SEO specialists and marketers) to form industry mergers to gather all the right skills to handle digital projects. This restricts you to a pre-defined range of partners. Rather choose one best-of-breed partner to handle each competency.
- Strong project management. Large, complex projects involve multiple suppliers and therefore a specialist project understanding to undertake effective vendor management. Picking a partner with proven programme management credentials will benefit the smooth running of the project – particularly if you don’t have this experience
- Partners versus suppliers. Suppliers fulfil requests Partners take an active interest in understanding your business and strategic objectives and offer solutions. This is the difference between value and a commodity. Find a partner who will invest time and energy into understanding your business.
- Shared risk, shared reward. True partnerships involve reciprocated investments. This means dependencies and risks are created, but it also means rewards are shared. If you are going to work this closely with someone, make sure you share the same ethos.
- Applicability. Don’t just take a provider’s word on what they can and can’t do. Ask for a portfolio and case studies to ensure they have the right experience
- Scale. One important example of the right kind of experience is scale. A website with a catalogue of 50 products is not the same as one with a million. Specify scale when looking for a partner.
- Innovation. Don’t team up with suppliers who copy the success of others. A technologically solid campaign is important, but so too is creativity. Look for market movers who offer both.
- Entrenchment. Find a provider that gets repeat business. Many developers are good at solving problems, but others think ahead to what problems and opportunities may arise down the line and work to avoid them before they happen.
- Humility. Look for team players. It’s a bad sign if the provider won’t look beyond itself for solutions that better serve your requirements. Find a partner who will get to know your business, and makes recommendations based on what’s good for you.
- Resources. Ask about the skills and size of the whole team. What capabilities and capacity is your providing bringing with it?
Overall, there’s a lot you can learn from asking the right questions. When choosing a provider – or multiple providers – ask them questions. Determine what you need, and choose the right partners based on those needs.