I love this new term, “done with you” services.  I don’t know who coined the phrase, but I think it’s great!  It used to be that people would outsource certain business activities (especially marketing) to third-party vendors, that worked in one big black box. Not only would you have no clue who was working on your project, you had little to no visibility into what was actually happening in the background. 

We have never done business that way because honestly, it doesn’t work.  It’s nice to think that you can offload work onto someone else, turn your back to focus on other priorities, and come back when it’s done.   

And, no good marketing campaign has ever run successfully when it’s put into a silo like this.  In fact, more often than not, that black box becomes one gigantic black hole.  This leads to frustration on both sides and never leaves anyone feeling good about the business relationship. 

I’ll tell you a story to illustrate my point.   

We once worked with a technology giant to generate leads for their internal sales teams to follow up.  They specified a target audience that was highly niche—users of one specific competitive solution looking to get rid of what they had and who were interested in meeting immediately to evaluate alternatives.   

During the course of the campaign, we spoke to hundreds of decision-makers using this competitive solution.  The problem was that no one wanted to switch because the solution they had was rolling out new features and they were satisfied with their current relationship.   

However, we found users of another competitive solution who were interested in evaluating our customer’s offer.  We tried to contact our client probably about 2 dozen times to explain the situation and get their input to see if we could pivot and deliver those leads instead.  And we never got a reply.   

We weren’t sure what to do; should we deliver those leads and take the risk that our customer didn’t want them, or should we turn around in circles and deliver nothing?  Should we cancel the campaign and stop working entirely?   

We really needed our client to provide feedback and insight, to work with us to find potential solutions, and to consider the pros and cons together so that we could move forward.  We found ourselves having to make a choice on our own, not knowing if it was the right decision or not. 

In the end, we decided to take the risk and passed along the leads we generated.  The campaign was delivered in full and we repeatedly requested feedback on those leads for budget validation only to be left wondering where our client had disappeared to…   

Six months after we finished, the customer came back to us saying that none of our leads were good, that they were all out of target.  Subsequent discussions pinpointed a fundamental misalignment from the start: our client was expecting us to do what we set out to do without any input, while we were looking to create a partnership and work hand-in-hand with them to ensure that our results were in-line with expectations.   

This is exactly why  “done with you” services are so important.   “Done with you” means that you are an integral part of the process for the service provider to serve you.  You work together with your vendor, giving regular feedback on the activity to help tweak or adjust as needed throughout the process.   

It’s a very hands-on approach and it is important because sometimes campaigns don’t go according to plan.  When you have a close working relationship with your supplier, it’s easier to pivot when something unexpected happens.  You are agile and can quickly implement solutions to create the win-win for both parties. 

There are a lot of people out there who have had bad experiences with marketing vendors in the past.  And I would be willing to bet that’s because a high level of transparency and explicit communications were not part of the original plan.   

When you are looking for a marketing service provider, it’s important that you ask them how they work, how many people will be working on your campaign, what their level of expertise is on the topic, how they plan on providing feedback (especially when it’s negative), at what frequency they deliver reports, and what they do when the going gets tough.  Just listening to how they answer should give you the information you need to know whether or not you can trust them.    

Be prepared that “done with you” means that you have an important role to play.  It’s not “done for you” but with your active participation, no matter how things go along the way. 

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