Partner vs. Vendor


Partner – a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.

Synonyms: colleague, associate, coworker, fellow worker, collaborator, comrade, teammate

Partner. You see this word used quite a bit in business relationships. As opposed to the more one-off, transactional-based vendor relationship, a partnership is indicative of transparency and trust.

When it comes to partnering with a strategic marketing communications firm, the definition of partnership should grow even deeper. It is their responsibility to provide recommendations that address your business needs—and in order to do that, they need to be working alongside you, digging deep and caring as much about your business as you do.

This hyper-engagement helps partners truly understand your business situation in order to effectively establish goals and properly execute against them with the most strategic solutions possible—likely ones you have yet to consider.

A partner is also respectful of your budget, getting the most out of every dollar spent and reporting continuously on ROI (return on investment). If things aren’t trending in a direction that benefits you, they’ll change course, quickly and efficiently.

Another important characteristic of a partner? They’ll have your back if things don’t go as planned. It’s when times get tough or issues occur that truly separate partners from vendors. Partners stand up, take the issue on head first and come to the table with a solution.

Maybe you haven’t worked with a marketing communications partner before, or you have and you didn’t have a valuable experience, or maybe you are trying to determine if a partner is needed since you have an internal marketing team. As you are considering whether to seek out a partner or not, keep these points in mind:

1. Cost

There have been countless articles written that show that partnering with an agency costs less than keeping everything in-house. Often, an in-house marketing budget is eaten up by payroll expenses. When partnering with an agency, you’re working with an entire team of experts, usually for far less than the cost of the salary of even one in-house executive.

2. Experience

That entire team of experts also provides key benefits to you and your internal teams, such as in-depth knowledge of target markets, marketing channels, and data analytics among others. It’s also incredibly valuable to get another—outside—perspective on your brand and business; it’s not uncommon for internal stakeholders to be so invested in the brand that it’s hard to see the forest for all the trees.

3. Knowledge

Some people may not be aware of the amount of research agencies do to understand their clients. We want to know your brand inside and out, who you want to target, and what makes them do what they do just as much as you. Since marketing is an always-on and always-changing landscape, agencies make it their mission to know what’s trending and what platforms work best to communicate any given message. At S/B, we have a proven strategy and rationale for every tactic we recommend. Having a vast knowledge base of various industries and channels and the ability to keep up on trends allows us to provide the best recommendations to reach those audiences and deliver on your goals.

4. Data

The amount of data available for any given campaign can be so overwhelming that eventually people stop paying attention and ignore it completely, or find themselves looking at data that has little meaning in achieving the goals set for that campaign. Agencies have experts on staff that can take all of that data and present it in an easy-to-understand format so it’s far less overwhelming. Through our knowledge of our clients and their unique business goals, we can also weed through the unnecessary information and provide you with exactly what you’re looking for, as well as the best ways to optimize your content to get the best from your campaign.

At S/B, being a partner isn’t just a claim, it is a characteristic of every team member—and has been for more than 70 years. This is something that won’t change, no matter how our industry changes.