Selecting an Service Provider

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1 Why Outsourcing the Process is Your Best Bet RED PILL Authored by: Ken Magill

2 Why Outsourcing the Process is Your Best Bet So you ve decided it s time to hire an service provider or select a new one. And you re seriously considering using only internal resources to do so. Let s take a look at how this process is probably going to unfold. Getting Started If you do your due diligence and you no doubt plan to you re going to bring in somewhere around six vendors for presentations. But are you even sure what due diligence in selecting an marketing vendor should include? What questions should you be asking to make sure your specifications will be compatible with what a prospective vendor offers? Which of your specifications are deal breakers and which aren t? Are you even sure what you need in an service provider? Figuring out what due diligence in selecting an service provider should include can be as complicated as going through the duediligence process itself. And once you ve spent the time and internal resources figuring out what due diligence should entail, scheduling meetings with all the prospective vendors will take months. You will probably have half a dozen mid- or high-level executives from across your organization at each of these presentations each executive looking for something different and each impatient to get out of the conference room so they can go hit all their other deadlines. Those meetings will involve marketing executives, engineers, database professionals, business executives and others. The presentations will probably run somewhere around four hours each. That s 24 labor hours for each person in the room. That s half a week s worth of their time. At $125 an hour in internal costs, that s $18,000 you just spent watching PowerPoint presentations over a period of months. And you haven t even selected a vendor yet. The real pain is yet to come. 1

3 And don t forget the time you will spend in follow-up calls with each vendor and the time spent in second- and third-round demonstrations as you whittle the list of vendors down to two. Meanwhile, all six of the vendors are going to tell you how perfect they are for your needs when it is more likely that two of them may be a fit for you. That means you ve got a two-thirds chance of selecting an service provider that for any one of hundreds of reasons just isn t a fit. And then you ll be stuck with that vendor for from three to five years until you can make the case for another switch, or until you move to another job. It may be their technology isn t as good at performing a particular function as they claimed it would. It may be your cultures just don t mesh. But whatever it is, you will not have been able to foresee it and you ll simply have to suffer through it. The Discovery Process Proper vendor selection begins with a detailed discovery that includes questions for each stakeholder designed to bring to light your company s specific needs across the enterprise so you can be matched up with the proper vendor. Critical issues that must be considered include: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces with ? What do you believe contributes most to the messaging challenges you face? What are your primary goals? Other critical discovery issues are your primary technology, resource and business constraints and dependencies. If you already have a vendor, what limitations do you experience with it and what attracted you or your predecessor to it in the first place? These answers will be different for every company. Red Pill will sit down with team members independently and get their unvarnished versions of what your company s challenges are. A proper discovery process will also discern your data-collection and maintenance practices and your volume needs. 2

4 What are your IT, creative and production resources? Do you use dynamic content? Do you use file segmentation? What types of messages do you employ? And those are just some of the issues you must consider. An experienced third-party specialist will have already developed a discovery process that will result in a detailed, unique profile of your company s needs. The Red Pill Difference With Red Pill , you ll see three in rare cases, four vendors all prescreened with your specific preferences and needs in mind. The meetings will be scheduled within a week or two of one another so the first presentation is almost as fresh as the last. At each of those presentations, each member of your team will have a score card created with their specific wants and needs in mind. The marketing folks will have a marketing score card. The engineers will have an engineering score card and the business executives will have a business score card because each representative will be looking for something different. One of the benefits of these score cards is they take personal biases out of the vendor-selection process. For example, say one of the room s more powerful decision makers has taken a liking to a particular vendor because he finds a presenter personally attractive. Don t laugh. It happens and you know it. Since all the score cards are weighted equally, the decision maker has far less of a chance to influence vendor selection based on some superficial criteria that has no bearing on how the vendor/client relationship will work out. Take a Good Look at Yourself Oh, Wait. You Can t During the discovery process, a third-party specialist can see things about your company you can t see. Besides allowing stakeholders to score vendors independently of one another, Red Pill will sit down with team members independently and get their unvarnished versions of what your company s challenges are and what they think should be done about them. 3

5 By sitting down with each team member, Red Pill will get a holistic view of your company and its marketing needs that no single stakeholder will be likely to have. Many times, lower-level team members the ones who push the buttons know what needs to be done yet have trouble getting buy-in from upper management. Red Pill can filter and distill their opinions into actions that make sense for the company and make the case for why they should be done so everyone from all levels of management understands.. that s $18,000 you just spent watching PowerPoint presentations. Red Pill will come into your vendor-selection process with none of the corporate political baggage that so often hampers progress. This facet alone can save everyone involved in the process time and headaches. As an independent trusted third party, Red Pill can communicate with team members and the various managers in a productive way they cannot interact with one another. Red Pill will act as a liaison between the various individuals and management levels, helping each communicate with one another and collectively arrive at the solution that is right for your company. At the end of the process, everyone will be satisfied they arrived at the finish line together. Corporate Culture Matters Having a corporate culture that meshes with your vendor can be crucial to the success of your partnership. Do you respond well to customer service with a touch of down home southern hospitality? There are service providers that offer just that type of service. Or maybe you want Silicon Valley, high-tech efficiency. There are vendors that offer that, as well. Who is going to get along with whom is a very subjective judgment. A third-party specialist who has worked with all the major service providers will have a feel for their individual cultures and how they 4

6 may or may not mesh with yours. An experienced third-party specialist will also have inside knowledge of the various players on the -marketing landscape, information you simply won t find by looking at LinkedIn or Glassdoor, or by joining a discussion group. For example, some vendors have a reputation for giving better customer service to certain types of clients. This information is not written anywhere. Sometimes, just knowing the industry gossip can go a long way toward helping select the vendor whose corporate culture will be a fit for you. You won t find a consultant more plugged into the -marketing-vendor landscape and its little-known nuances than Red Pill . Your Wants and Needs are Unique Every company s specifications for their program will differ. For example, everyone wants their program to be easy to use. But your definition of easy to use will be unique. You ll want your interface to be intuitive; but intuitive for you will not be intuitive for someone else. For example, intuitive may mean something as simple as you want your navigation bar on the side of your screen. It may mean you may want it on top. Confidently managing the vendor-selection process requires knowing in advance the hundreds of different variables that will most certainly come into play. Do you want self-service? Do you need full-service? Do you want self-service with an option of full service? Every vendor will tell you they offer whatever level of service you say you want. And they may honestly think they offer what you want. But they re all different. Also, some sales representatives have been known to make claims during presentations that are simply not true. 5

7 For example, some -service-provider sales representatives tout their organization s high deliverability rate a claim that is pure nonsense. Every major factor that affects an program s deliverability is in control of the list owner, not the service provider. Red Pill can help you avoid falling for nonsense claims from a sales representative because the sales representative will know not to make them in front of a Red Pill representative. A third party who has worked repeatedly with more than 50 of these vendors will help you pinpoint the one vendor who truly matches your service needs based on what the vendor can truly deliver. Maybe It s You Don t take this the wrong way, but if you already have an service provider, you may not need a new one. Maybe your current provider can do everything you say you need an ESP to do. You just need to work with it differently. Since Red Pill has done so many migrations and integrations for so many different types of companies with 50 different ESPs, we know what each ESP is capable of. If your current vendor can deliver what you say you need, we can point that out and help you get the results you want from your current provider. It s almost always less expensive to fix a current relationship than it is to start a new one. Red Pill begins each project with that idea in mind. About Red Pill There s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. We ve lived on the client side, building multi-million dollar channels with our own hands. We ve walked the path of systems integration to bring highly complex automated data-driven messaging programs to life. As the developers of the annual Vendor Features & Functions Guide, we have an unparalleled view of the vendor landscape and vendor capabilities. Other consultants use our Guide in helping clients to select suitable vendors, so why not go straight to the source? We won t always tell you what you want to hear, but will always tell you what you need to know to make the best decisions for your organization. 6

8 Our extensive knowledge of the industry can help you find the best fit for your needs and budget for your program. We can assist you with installation of critical APIs to enable advanced messaging such as trigger based messages, lifecycle marketing and retrieve all the data so you can make decisions based upon facts and solid analysis, not guess work We are the agency behind other agencies and vendors alike. From process-driven vendor selection, to system integration, to deep analytics, data-driven profiling and personas, to strategic analysis and tactical implementation, to production support, we have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you take your messaging programs to the next level. Vendor Evaluation & Selection The average marketer will be involved in selecting a vendor for their organization a few times in their career; we re involved in client vendor selection several times a year. From producing our Annual Vendor Features & Functions Guide, our insight into vendor capabilities is second to none. We ve leveraged our years of experience in vendor evaluation and selection to develop an effective process designed to most closely match vendors to the client s needs. Migration, Integration, & Automation Moving from one deployment vendor to another can be overwhelming the first few times. For us those first few times was a long time ago. Based on our years of experience migrating and integrating dozens of client s to a new vendor, we ve developed a process for this, too. We ll lay out the steps to take and order of implementation for a transparent and successful vendor migration. Reporting Dashboards Our reporting dashboards provide the ability to quickly view data for informed observations and business decisions. Dashboard charts, graphs, tables, and gauges provide a snapshot of your key metrics and performance indicators for day-to-day decisions and month-overmonth reporting with a robust platform for monitoring, visualizing and analyzing associated data. Production Services Contracted production services and blocked time units available to Agencies and select clients. Bonded and Insured For our client s peace of mind, Red Pill consulting services are fully bonded and insured. For more information call Red Pill at

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