An Unfortunate Misunderstanding

Many years ago, I heard a story of a woman who had bought a baby python to help her in the grieving process of her husband who had recently passed away. She reportedly told her friends that the python was really connecting with her, even empathizing with her. In fact, it would lay its head on her deceased husband’s pillow and extend itself all the way out to lay parallel with her. How cute!

It was working out really well for her… until one day she didn’t show up for work.

Emergency Services were called, and a zoologist was consulted. As it turns out, while the baby python may have enjoyed months of affection and attention with its owner, its primary incentive each night that it stretched out in bed next to her was not to help her feel warm and fuzzy, rather, it was to determine when it had grown big enough to consume her.

Now hopefully your marketing vendor isn’t intending to eat you, but it is important to take a look under their hood to determine what their priorities and incentives are.

Is your Marketing Vendor a Python?

Contracting with an outside marketing company can significantly expedite your growth by leveraging the expertise of others while saving you from needing to hire requisite personnel. As you forge these business partnerships, though, it is imperative that you understand their primary motivators so that you can appropriately weigh the advice they give.

An example I regularly see with marketing firms is that they tie their compensation to their client’s marketing budget. The more money you spend on marketing, the more money they make from you. Not only that, but they may even recommend you work with certain media channels because they will receive a commission from them.

But if their marketing efforts fall flat, will they take responsibility for their poor marketing and work to improve it? Or are they more likely to tell you it’s a matter of increasing your advertising budget?

How do you know?

The Most Important Incentive: Growth

I imagine you, like most business owners, care about one goal above all others: growth.

Most marketing firms, however, have their goals in the following order:

  1. Enlarge your budget
  2. Increase their billable hours
  3. Maximize their commissions from media companies
  4. Grow your business

When primary goals aren’t aligned between you and your vendor, how can there be trust?

Keep in mind, your business is not the only one hurting in challenging economic times, your marketing vendor is likely hurting too. And the scary thing is, if their compensation (ability to feed their family) is tied to your budget, but your ability to feed your family requires you run your business as operationally lean as possible… whose best do you think your vendors will look out for first?

So before you get all warm and cuddly with your new marketing vendor, take the time to learn what their primary goals and incentives are so you can be sure that their best will align with your best. No one wants to wake up one day to find themself in bed with a hungry python.

My partners and I believe that having incentives and goals that don’t align with our client’s not only gives the impression and opportunity for impropriety, but is straight-up unethical. The only metric we tie our compensation to is what matters most to you – growth.