Marketing Partner vs. Marketing Vendor

So you’ve realized you’re wearing too many hats and you need someone to help with marketing your business. We have good news. You are not alone! Which is why there are over 14,000 marketing agencies in the United States. Before you run out and choose one (or maybe you already have one but you need to reassess), it is important to remember that not all agencies are created equal. While some may tout high metrics and big dollar ROI, they lack the customer service, accessibility, and collaboration that separates marketing partners from marketing vendors. And if you are looking for a long-term relationship aimed at growing your overall brand presence, you need to find a partner who takes the time to understand your brand and is committed to its success. 

In this article we will discuss: 

The differences between marketing partners and marketing vendors

Why the distinction between marketing partners and vendors matters

Which type of marketing partner is right for your brand


The differences between marketing partners and marketing vendors

As we alluded to earlier, high engagement and strong ROI numbers are often what people think about with marketing. And those numbers are important. However, when it comes to marketing your brand, not everything that is being done can be easily measured. Marketing partners are often just as concerned with the work that can’t be measured as they are with the work that can. While marketing vendors tend to be focused solely on showing numbers to prove their worth, marketing partners understand that creating brand loyalty and setting proper customer expectations lead to long-term customer relationships. And, typically, long-term customer relationships lead to a stronger ROI. 

All Marketers pay attention to the numbers

  • Click and conversion rates 
  • Number of views and impressions 
  • Number of leads generated

But Marketing partners pay equal attention to the brand

  • Growing brand awareness in the market 
  • Setting accurate customer expectations in messaging 
  • Creating and maintaining a consistent brand image & voice across all marketing
  • Establishing positive emotional connections through visual messaging
  • Regular client meetings to ensure the brand goals are being met

These lists are obviously not comprehensive. They do, however, help to show the difference between vendors and partners. Marketing partners are interested in your brand goals and helping to develop your brand beyond just the KPIs that are easily measurable. 

Why the distinction between marketing partners and vendors matter

While it might seem like the distinction between partners and vendors is insignificant, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Marketing vendors are usually only focused on short-term success for their clients, looking to deliver quick-sale conversions. If this is what you need, then a marketing vendor might be the option that is best for you. However, if you’re looking to build a sustainable brand strategy, then you understand that focusing heavily on quick-sale conversions often comes at the expense of the overall brand image and positioning. 

Remarkable brands are interested in a marketing partner who can help them understand their customers’ needs, set accurate expectations, and deliver service that is aligned with the customer brand perceptions. Marketing is about more than just advertising. It is about building a cohesive brand that connects with its ideal audience no matter how or where they encounter it. A true marketing partner understands this. They work collaboratively with your brand to ensure consistency and remain true to who your brand is. This is the motivation behind why a marketing partner approaches their work very differently than a simple vendor. 

Which type of marketing partner is right for your brand?

So we’ve covered how marketing partners and marketing vendors approach their work, as well as why it is important to know the difference between the two. The question now becomes, which one is right for your brand? That depends on what you’re looking to achieve by outsourcing your marketing. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I looking for brand growth over quick sales? 
  • Do I have the time to integrate a partner into my brand? (culture, positioning, goals, etc.)
  • Do I want to work collaboratively versus taking what is given to me with my company’s marketing efforts?
  • Am I equally interested in the tangible and intangible KPIs for my brand?
  • Is brand awareness and equity important to measure as part of the success of my marketing efforts? 

If you found yourself answering the questions above with a “YES”, then a marketing partner is the right choice for you. Before you choose a marketing partner, review the list below to be sure you choose a partner who is focused on your long-term brand growth. 

  • Marketing partners should take time to conduct the necessary research in order to represent your brand well. 
  • Marketing partners should know your brand growth goals and should care about achieving them. 
  • Marketing partners should offer a holistic, integrated strategy across all consumer touchpoints.
  • Marketing partners should build your brand equity and awareness, while also driving lead conversion within their strategies.  
  • Marketing partners should be focused on both the measurable and unmeasurable services that will help to grow your brand. 

Lastly, ensure you have proper expectations of your marketing partner’s process to ensure a positive working relationship. Take time to learn their communication style, their process for developing strategies, and what they Are measuring to show the efficacy of their work. Look over reviews of the company, view a portfolio of their previous work, assess their own marketing, and request a client reference list to gain additional insights into what it Is like to be a client of theirs. In the long run, the decision to outsource your marketing can be a decision that either makes or breaks your brand. Take the time necessary to find a marketing partner that fits well with your brand.