Navigating the post-pandemic partner MOT
In times of change, re-evaluating existing partnerships is crucial, argues Analytic Partners' associate vice president Kevin O'Farrell
When all around is in turmoil, when businesses are forced into changing working practices overnight – often on a global scale – and are consumed with simply fighting for their survival, it is easy to see why they would keep what they can constant.
No need for unnecessary change – remaining anchored to something familiar and trusted feels safe and essential as the world tips in a strange and alarming manner. So, while the caution is entirely understandable, it doesn’t equate that it is the correct course of action.
Right now, a company should be asking all the questions and questioning all the answers they have received throughout the past few months. Are we still working towards the same or the right KPIs? Have we changed direction during the pandemic? What’s been the impact on sales? How are we measuring our current activities? Are our partners still the right choice to get us through this and beyond?
Changing the organisations a company works with might seem low on the list of priorities and frankly an unwelcome distraction while extinguishing fires everywhere. And while that argument may have been true in the first flushes of pandemic lockdown in March and April, it no longer applies.
For in times of change, re-evaluating existing partnerships is crucial. Indeed, picking partners to help your business be in the most robust shape to cope with the continued uncertainty and inevitable recession is essential.
While our specialist understanding is in selecting a measurement vendor, the principles of picking partner organisations to work with apply universally. As marketing directors re-evaluate their requirements, they need to ask many questions of their own organisation as well as those of potential vendors.
It means ditching the mind-set of ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and looking at operations with a new mentality and outlook. At the root, is having a clear view of what marketing efforts are having the most impact on the business.
So where should a CMO start in finding a good match? A good place is to ask some simple questions of their own business – what is it trying to accomplish, where are most of the sales, and what data does it have access to?
Without this level of understanding in the business, it will be hard to identify the best fit in terms of measurement vendor – or any other partner – and the most appropriate tools needed to measure ‘success’.
Once this insight has been gained, the CMO is in a good place to assess any potential partner to help determine if they can work well together and will receive the services needed.
We have compiled a list to guide you smoothly through partner evaluation:
The vendor’s expertise in measurement is vital for them to see the challenges within the client business and use their industry-specific knowledge to deal with the company’s challenges. Asking for case studies and references is a good way to identify how much experience a potential partner has of the relevant market sector.
Vendor specifics to consider include: its business structure, to see if it has any connections that might make it biased; whether it has global scope if that is necessary; if it can work with the company’s preferred data sources; and if it has to outsource or subcontract any aspects of the work.
Beyond that a CMO needs to explore the methodologies employed – how flexible they are, how transparent, are the models static or dynamic (i.e. do you need to start from scratch if you want to look at your data in a different way), how does it cope with data privacy aspects and walled gardens.
New partners come with their own methodologies and technologies so it’s important to consider how staff will be able to interact with these – will they be able to easily access and understand the analytics, will they need to be trained to work with new systems, can the vendor do this training remotely?
In terms of measurement technology, how it is used within a company must be considered – will the team be working with this tech every day or will it be more of a simple review of dashboard data?
Depending what the client works with – Google, AWS, Tencent etc – will affect whether analytics providers can work with that data. It is this data analysis that is often the most complex part of the system.
And in addition, data security is a priority for all businesses and as they must comply with regulations, so rigorous questioning of partners’ security is vital.
What becomes evident as you consider the level of detail and questions needed to be asked of potential partners, is that the CMO must reassess KPIs, where priorities lie, and where money can be saved. Nothing is set in stone and everything is constantly changing – and this has been the case since before March 2020.
It is only by the CMO honestly evaluating and understanding in close collaboration with all other stakeholders what the company is trying to achieve, what data it has available and what business questions need to be answered, that they can begin to be sure they are working with the best partners.
Nobody needs to have all the answers to these questions right away – the right partner will help guide and educate the team on how to get where the company needs to go.