Partner or Vendor??

by Arnie Malham | June 14, 2009

When you think of the agency, do you feel we are more of a “partner” in creating your success or a “vendor” who has a specific, but replaceable role?

Obviously we strive for the former, but more importantly I want to suggest that how you think of us might, MIGHT, determine the reality of the relationship. I know that when my staff feels appreciated, valued, and collaborative, they produce their best work. Conversely, when they feel degraded, expendable, and dictated to, they produce—we will just say—“unoriginal” work.

If you aren’t answering our e-mails/requests, don’t schedule conference calls, can’t find time to communicate your goals and objectives, and/or generally look to push us around if problems arise, we are a vendor.

If you respect our e-mails/requests, regularly schedule and actively participate in your conference calls, engage us on decisions in your firm, and work with us to resolve issues that arise, we are a valued partner.

Recently we asked all of our department heads and brand managers to rank every client based on their perceived “pleasure to work with” factor. Those ranking highest were Joye Law Firm, Berg Injury Lawyers, and Hughes & Coleman. Those ranking lowest were…well, we will save that for another letter—maybe even a video. My point is: there is a difference.

Please note, those ranked the highest, are NOT necessarily our biggest clients. That is a different distinction and in this case ranked 5th, 11th, and 14th. Our top revenue clients are certainly respected and desired, but it can be a different feeling. In some cases, it might be described as feeling more like “work” and less like “achievement.”

Before you say it, I will say it for you, “Shut up with the touchy feely and get back to work.” Consider it done! We are “working” right now.  But do me this one favor: If you don’t already, try treating us and thinking of us as a true partner for the next 4-6 months, and see for yourself what a collaborative, cooperative, results-producing relationship feels like. You might just like it.  If so, you can try it with your staff as well, then maybe… just maybe… your spouse. J

If you already think of us as a “partner” in your success,  thank you, thank you, thank you, for the privilege of being your agency. You have inspired us more than you know.


PULL QUOTES: We’re working toward results-producing relationships.

Partnerships bring out our best work. We want you to be our partners.