For the past two months, we have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using an outside marketing company for your marketing needs, and also how to choose that marketing company should you decide to use this option. So after you have chosen the most appropriate marketing company for your company’s needs, it is important to maintain this business relationship so that it delivers the most value possible.

Before even entering business relations with a new company, make a written plan/contract. Doing so will help define the rules and expectations for your new business relationship. Some aspects to include in this plan would be to define the role of the outside company (such as to consult or to take care of all marketing processes), the expectations for the marketing processes, communication expectations (ensure that there will be set times to contact one another or methods that are most effective for communication), the company’s goals, pricing (both now and in the future), and any other provisions you expect to have with the marketing company.

As part of the written plan, it is advisable to set a timeline and request progress reports for the implementation of your marketing. Doing so simply helps with understanding and communication between the companies.

Assuming you have chosen a company that is able to communicate effectively with you, it is likewise important for you to communicate effectively to the company what you need and expect. The initial plan/contract was the first step to this, but it must continue throughout the business relationship. Keep your outside company updated on company/product developments.

With effective communication, there should be a regular sharing of ideas and feedback. To maintain this productivity, it is essential that both you and the outside company are receptive to each other’s input. This entails hearing what the other has to say and taking it into consideration, not simply dismissing all ideas just because they may not have been something you would initially think of to do. After all, one of the advantages of working with the outside company is to get their new ideas and insight.

In conjunction with being receptive, stay open-minded when change is being discussed. It is hard to give up control of parts of a business when change is involved, but that change can be beneficial to your business in the long run.

Finally, an additional tip to receiving the most value out of your outside marketing company would be to use the business relationship as an opportunity to learn more. The company you work with, assuming that you chose them for their expertise, can offer helpful industry insight for your general knowledge. This knowledge can be applied to other areas of your work to ensure you have received the most value for your company.HB

Paul Page is the owner of Pan American Enterprises, LLC, a Tucson, Ariz., marketing consulting firm specializing in the jewelry and gemstone industry. He also serves as marketing director of the Gem and Lapidary Dealers Association.