or, the importance of finding the right partner
From delivering a culture change communication strategy, to using the right tools/channel, help is at hand. It could either be within your direct work environment or an external resource. Finding the right partner either within your stakeholders or within the ever-growing vendor network, can seem daunting.
Internally, it means stakeholder mapping, segmentation, ambassadors, customising of message, or for greater impact, even going for a leaner approach as described by Mike Klein in his excellent piece about Selective Engagement – something I can relate to, in a different way when I want(ed) my communications to get viral.
Externally, it means finding the right vendor that can match your ethics or values, either related to the brand you represent or to yourself. As consultants/providers’ levels of expertise are usually similar, values – besides costs – is what, in my view, creates the differentiator.
Here is a (true) tale that will help me illustrating my point.
A couple of months ago, someone found a wallet in the company building and, as it contained a business card mentioning ‘communication and branding’ it landed in my pigeon hole.
Listening to my Nice Inner Voice, I tried to track down the owner of the wallet – there was a name on the card, as well as some foreign money and a shopping list (he liked Nutella, this alone inspired trust).
I also put everything in an envelope, crafted a brief friendly note, walked down to the reception desk, explained what it was for and that it probably would be picked up soon, and walked back upstairs to my desk to call the number that was on the card:
“O, you found it! It was a joke to make you contact us – it worked! We thought it would be a funny way to make you remember us and …”
My Not So Nice Outer Voice cut him off right there. Yes, I would remember him. In fact, I would write down his name and distribute it, to make sure I would never have to work with him. Even, by accident, through someone else.
If I reacted strongly it’s because this vendor broke one of my golden rules: a vendor should be able to demonstrate the values carried by your company and yourself. Unfortunately for him, respect is one of them. Respect for others, for your time, and also for potential customers.
Working with vendors is also about being able to share a vision and inspire them, articulate the objectives and work together at the solution where their expertise lies. A good vendor should be able to surprise you, or push your boundaries, as long as they help you deliver the intended outcome.
I am lucky to have worked with a few of them (I still do) but they are not easy to find – so when lucky, nurturing the relationship is key. And no, it’s not just based on costs. I always consider the overall value loop. Cost versus outcome, and maximising the resulting product with a long term perspective.