4 Tips for Selecting a Vendor
Working with vendors is an integral part of business for many direct marketers, but how do you know what vendor is right for you? Consider these four tips when sourcing the best vendor for your next project.
1. Help the vendor to help you. Make sure you have your project objectives, target audience and measurements for success clearly spelled out before picking up the phone or putting out an RFP. Without those three key aspects clearly defined, you are essentially asking the vendor to create those for you - and that can waste valuable project time.
2. Use the Internet for feedback. In a world of expanding social media, use what's available to you to find out who people are recommending for projects like yours. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, Yahoo Groups and Google Blog searches to get a full view of your prospective vendors. Pick up the phone and call some of the vendors' clients listed on their Web sites. Know what's strong and weak about your potential vendors before you even reach out to them once.
3. A picture is worth 1,000 words. Once you have selected your short list of vendors to whom you will send your RFP, carefully examine the proposals that return. Do they show you mock-ups or other visuals of your campaign? Any reputable, good agency should be able to turn out quality creative on the fly to accurately reflect your vision and intent.
4. Stick to your budget. It sounds obvious, but it's easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles and lose sight of your original intent as the pitches come back. A good vendor will respect your stated budget, show you several options for that spend and demonstrate the impact of trade-offs, if any need be made.
April Wilson is director of customer value management at The Dallas Morning News.