Unhappy with a Vendor? Maybe It’s Time to Realize “It’s Not you; It’s me”
Are you unhappy with a vendor? Maybe they’re not getting the results you expect, or providing the support and resources you feel you need? Before you start pointing the finger at an unwitting vendor, take a look within your own organization and see how you may be hindering results. You may just be the source of your own discontent.
- Are you communicating effectively ? I’ve had my PR company for over 11 years. I have worked with all kinds of clients. Some have been great at communicating and including me in all aspects of their business. Others, well, not so much. It is vitally important for a company to have open, free-flowing communication with any vendor – especially because they’re a vendor. They’re not there at every moment every day to attend every meeting. Vendors depend on you to provide essential information to move the business forward. If you’re not communicating effectively, then you can’t expect certain results.
- How available are you? Do you frequently skip weekly calls? Do you repeatedly reschedule or cancel meetings? I’ve had clients reschedule media interviews to the point where the reporter gave up, and the client wondered why they weren’t getting much press. If you don’t make yourself available to a vendor or those it brings to the table, then you’re not doing your part to achieve results. Your lack of availability can effect the implementation of planned tactics. It can also affect your relationships. You must assess what’s important and make it a priority. If you're not making a certain function a priority, then you shouldn’t be paying for it, and you certainly shouldn’t expect unrealistic results from it.
- Champagne dreams with a beer budget syndrome. Say you’re a startup with the most amazing product ever. You know you deserve coverage in all the major media outlets. You want your PR firm to be at your beck and call 24 hours a day and ready to write that press release and get it out at a moment’s notice. You want 100 hours per month, but you can only afford 10. Sorry, no one is in business to operate at a loss. You need to make sure your budget and expectations are in line. If you can’t afford a certain strategy, you need to understand and accept what you can afford and see how you can leverage less expensive opportunities. You don’t need a million dollars to grow your business, but you do need to be smart about your budget and realistic about your expectations.
- Timing is everything! Are you calling your agency and telling them you want to put a press release out tomorrow and to basically drop everything to get it done? Are you a very “hurry up and wait” type of organization? I understand those crises arise that requires unplanned damage control. But, if you’ve been sitting on a press release for weeks, then finally decided it was time to get the word out - unless you’re the likes of Apple or Google - you can’t nor should you count on significant results. You also shouldn’t expect your agency to be 100% available for you just because you decided it was time. They have other clients, and you’re probably not their biggest one. Their time is just as valuable as yours, and it's important that you respect it. I actually have fellow agency owners who charge a “last minute” fee. I don’t think that’s such a bad idea.
When we’re unhappy with a situation, it’s important to take a look at our own role within that situation. It is never easy to really look at ourselves and see where we may have been wrong or ineffective. However, recognizing and admitting your weaknesses is a strength in itself. Once you take that honest look at yourself and see what needs to be fixed, you can guarantee better results and be much happier with your vendor.