Make Friends With Your Vendors

Depending on the position you are in, you may receive ‘perks’ from your vendors due to your direct activity with them. As a Marketing Director, I design and implement the annual budget and can push dollars in almost any direction I feel will benefit our efforts. Vendors know this and will sometimes try to earn your continued business by offering things like cash and vacations. Why not take them? After all, you DESERVE them. Not true. You serve a company that trusts your decisions and depends on them not being swayed by outside bonuses. Let me tell you why I’ve refused cash and vacation bonuses and it benefited my relationships to hold my vendors hands.

I have always been a firm believer in a fair relationship. You should never take what you don’t give and you should never expect what shouldn’t be expected. Over the years I have been offered my share of cash bonuses and luxury vacations to push an advertising contract through or to even commit to looking into it. Am I enticed by these offers? Of course I am! Who wouldn’t be? Have I ever accepted one? NO. Every organization that I have done business with believes in their services and has the integrity to let the product stand on its own without offering incentives to the decision maker. If you are an investigative marketing professional like I am, you will do detailed research about the company, its competition and formulate your own decision based on discovered results. I do something completely opposite of accepting incentives.

By establishing a strong relationship with your vendors, you and your company will benefit in the long run. Almost biweekly I will try to contact each of my vendors to say hello and ask about ‘the kids’, send a friendly email with an inside joke and even mail a thank you card in the mail that is hand written thanking them for their continued excellent services. These simple relationship building steps will earn you and your company better perks then just cash and vacations. Here’s how. When the recession hit last year, the company I work for was faced with interesting problems and the advertising capital to continue paying on existing contracts or extending new agreements into 2009 wasn’t there. One might think that without a budget, there isn’t a real need for a marketing department. There are several things you can do to bring value to your department (see blog post here) but one of the most significant things I did was strengthening my continued efforts to ensure lasting relationships with my vendors.

With strong friendships in place, I had to pull a few favors. I was able to extend existing commitments and continue article placement in the magazines without contributing ad revenue. Our website development team, Rise Creative Group, worked quickly and diligently to bring us the best bang for our buck in the remaining months of our online marketing efforts and offer up helpful suggestions for continued growth. The video production studio we work with, Bright Circle, was kind enough to meet several times to plan a budget for the things we had to have done in 2009, even without a financial commitment. You see, by establishing these valuable partnerships I was able to continue some of our marketing efforts and even found a way to work a deal for a few free ads in those magazines.

These hand-holding techniques proved to be invaluable and really helped our company through a devastating recession. I continue to stay in contact with these vendors and they do the same. There is something really important about pulling favors when necessary and having the leeway to do so. All things considered, I would pick these friendships over cash bonuses and vacations any day. Besides, they make my department look good when times get tough!

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