Monday, February 1, 2010

Finding Your Ideal Partner

One of my goals for February is to broaden my network of partner companies--web designers, graphic designers, and other professionals who work with clients who need regular work. I've done this in the past and for the most part it's worked out well, but it's always a risk getting into a partnership with another company--suddenly you have to deal with someone else's way of working. It's always good to know which hills you should and shouldn't die on.

I've got a few more networking events coming up, and here are a few things I'm going to be looking for when talking to new people to partner up with.

The type of clients they work with. Is the graphic or web design firm going after the cut-rate market, or do they work with a higher caliber of client? Do they typically work with clients who have marketing departments, or smaller start-ups and one-person businesses? How marketing-savvy are their clients--and do they know what copywriting is and its value?

The way they bill, the way they work. Some web design firms ask for only a small deposit up front and charge for the rest of the bill when the project is done. Considering the design phase could last longer than the copywriting phase, this could put you waiting for your entire paycheck for a long time--if you're going to be expected to bill like they do. You may have to negotiate terms that require your own payment schedule with the web designer--but this could be a drawback for them in hiring you if they have to pay you before they get their own paycheck.

Their willingness to sell you as a value add. It's great to have a web designer who offers to send work your way if clients ever voice the interest. But a designer who actively sells you is invaluable. I'm looking for people who see the clear financial benefits of offering writing services in addition to design--and who's willing to actively differentiate themselves to clients that way.

Their marketing mindset. The ideal web design partner for me is one that sees the big picture of online marketing for clients. They don't think just about the right colors to use and usability features, but also ways clients can easily deliver ezines, add content, and keep in touch with customers. And, of course, that's where I come in.

Who do you partner with--and how do you prequalify the best partners?


Kimberly Ben said...

This sounds like a good way to open up channels to receive more clients Jen. Let us know how it works for you.

Lori said...

Great list! I totally agree with #1 - too often, they're looking for quick-and-dirty work. No thanks. I'm looking for quality these days. :)

I look for partners who share the same client base. I specialize. I like knowing that the partner I'm working with has the same knowledge base and we won't be wasting time teaching each other. Not that it's not a good idea to expand, but there has to be interest in expanding into those areas. Very few people like insurance as much as I do. LOL

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How marketing-savvy are their clients--and do they know what copywriting is and its value?
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