Where there’s a vendor, see a partner

Most businesses will use vendors at some point in time – whether it’s for something small, like having a meeting catered, or something big, like ordering stock. Oftentimes, vendors are treated as just that – a vendor, a company to which an order is put in for and from which that order is received.

At Imagine, we take issue with being put in the “vendor” category. In our best client relationships, we are seen as a trusted partner, a resource. If allowed, we become steeped into every client relationship, delving deep into their business, their goals, challenges and initiatives, and their industry. We can use our expertise to come up with solutions before a client knows they have a problem, or accelerate good ideas to great.

Rather than simply filling an order for a logo, say, we have a conversation about what’s going to be done with it, potential pluses and minuses of vertical vs. horizontal, what should go into it and what should go elsewhere, etc. The same goes for all our services.

In my department (media relations), as opposed to saying “yes” to clients’ every idea for a release, we take their news and figure out how to make it actually newsworthy, something a reporter will write about. Sometimes that means finding the bigger picture surrounding an issue or finding the local tie to a national issue.

We don’t just take a client’s ideas and money and give them whatever they requested. We want to do work we believe will actually be successful. We want a give-and-take relationship that will produce amazing results.

If allowed, the same could happen with any vendor relationship. On a volunteer project I worked on, I worked with a printer who pointed out areas in my design that wouldn’t print well; I re-designed them per his feedback and was thankful I had the opportunity to do so. I’m allergic to gluten; I’m very thankful for people like the guy at Café Rio who, rather than simply taking my order, pointed out the foods to which flour had surprisingly been added. You see where I’m going with this.

To draw on another’s expertise, especially when they know the topic at hand way better than you do, is not admitting defeat; it is a necessary step in making an idea successful. Even if the original idea ultimately still stands, it’s better for having been thoroughly analyzed.

So I encourage you! Try approaching your vendor relationships as partner relationships instead and see what happens. It could be amazing.

Melissa Biernacinski serves as director of media relations for Imagine Communications. Click here to email her.

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