We spend a lot of time talking about how campaigns can better use tools, tactics, and technologies to win, but your talent and their time are the scarcest resources your campaign has. Most campaigns use outside agencies or vendors to build out their campaign team and knowing how to leverage these partners effectively is just as important as familiarity with online best practices.
And yes, it’s true, you are paying customer and you should get what you expect from your vendor, but being a good client will increase the output and quality you receive from your campaign’s contracted team.
Follow this advice to be a good client that your outside vendors and agencies will be happy to work with.
Treat Them as Partners
People are more likely to go the extra mile when they have ownership in your campaign. If you keep them in the dark by not sharing information about what’s going on and what you’re doing, they won’t be able to help you when you need it. They’ll have valuable experience you don’t have that you miss out on.
If you’re concerned about leaks or otherwise don’t trust your partner, you’ve hired the wrong team. It’s always better to overshare on information because your vendors may see things you miss.
Describe Outcomes, Not Instructions
When you need something done, describe your desired outcome to your vendor rather than specifying a series of steps. By being flexible, you will leverage your partnership to arrive at the best possible solution.
Your contracted team may know of a better way or shortcut to help you get a more preferable outcome. If you’re just giving instructions to a vendor, they’re not really partners and you may end up with an outcome you didn’t intend.
Set Clear Goals
If you don’t make your priorities clear, your agency will have to guess and they’ll probably get it wrong. Let them know how you’ll be judging their success. If you’re not sure how to measure that success concretely, work with them to determine it.
If you don’t share the same North Star, you’ll both head in different directions.
It’s hard when you’re in the midst of a campaign and every moment feels make or break, but not everything is a crisis. Whether you’re a candidate or a staff member, panicking about a situation never makes it better.
Spreading that panic to your vendors reduces the quality of work you’ll receive from them. Rather than getting something done well, you’ll get it done quickly. By better managing your time and your perspective, you’ll empower them to do their best work.
Remember Why You Hired Them
I’ll never understand this: a campaign goes to great lengths to hire the right vendor – comparing numerous proposals, spending hours meeting with people, and checking up on references – only to ignore their advice. When you take your own counsel over that of a partner, remember why you hired them.
You did your homework and found out they were the best. Listen to them.
It’s hard when you’re living and breathing the campaign day in and day out to let go of important decisions and tasks, but that’s why you’ve built a team. Whether they’re working in HQ or not, you’ve got to trust and delegate to your team.