If you are a crazy busy marketer, chances are you have to engage the services of other professional types like graphic artists, digital / advertising agencies and display designers to assist in the delivery of projects. But where to start? You can get recommendations from others, do online searches and seek out work you admire but when rubber needs to meet the road, how do you actually pick who is going to work alongside you and support you to reach your targets and deliver cut through work?

For me, the principles of picking a business partner is a lot like dating. Hell, I might even use this post as a cut out and keep for my next foray into the dating game! But in the meantime, let me share what I look for in selecting project partners.

1. The Zen of Reliability

The is totally key. Number one must have, not negotiable. You can have the hottest shot sitting across from you with the coolest pitch but….can they make it happen?  Great ideas are only ever of value if they are actioned.

In my business I have to rely on my close network of Team Diva suppliers to help fully realise the projects I am working on. So while I am the front person, behind me is an awesome support crew that create 3D visuals, scout locations, build my displays and print my graphics. Some of these suppliers have been with me since I started in the industry 17 years ago but they remain on Team Diva through being totally reliable. The know the quality I am after, will pick up the phone is there is a problem and will be flexible when last-minute client requests come in, even the seemingly impossible ones.  I know I can rely on them and I never have that keep-you-up-at-night stomach churning feeling that I am going to be massively let down.  Here’s a non-researched statistic that is based on my experience: I reckon the partner reliability rate is 1:5.  Say if you have 100 graphic designers (I am already reaching for the smelling salts) then you could happily ditch about 80 of those as they will rule themselves out through non-reliability.  Go for the partner who delivers on what they say they will do.

This is one of may favourite project partners: Bob the Builder.

One of my favourite partners: Bob the Builder

2. I am a specialist in 32 areas

This one always amuses me. I always thought that if you were a specialist, you were exceptional in 1 or 2 areas, perhaps 3 tops.  But I see so many potential partners claim specialist stakes in a roll call of disciplines. My granddad always said “every man to his trade”.  And he is bang on.  If we accept that to be a master of your chosen field with 10,000 hours on the clock then how can this apply to a shopping list of skills?  One of my clients had their advertising agency do their sales office design and fit out as the agency saw an opportunity to expand their income stream by offering this service as an add on.  It was not a happy experience.  The agency forgot crucial items like power and data points in the layout and then gave up and handed back to my client elements of the fit out deemed “too hard”.  You need a pro to partner with, so go for the pro that is an expert in their field not a part-time hobbyist that wants to boost their revenue.

3. I like you

Slightly controversial this one as skills should trump the personality of the partner you are selecting but likability should have some sway.  Business life is stressful and demanding and you need to be in the trenches with someone with the skills to move you forward but give you a laugh as well.  I don’t work with partners unless I like them and would be happy to have them around to my place drinking chardie and playing Uno (I wish I was a hardcore card shark but alas, that is on my to do list for my next life).  I have passed on working with some types that leave me cold and a little unsure if they were true to their word (there’s that reliability thing again).  Save yourself some pain and don’t deal with douches.

4. You need to know you

So while the other tips have been about them, this one is about you.  What are you looking for in a project partner?  How do you want the relationship to function?  How much contact will you require?  What – exactly – do you need?  I, nor any other potential partner can assist in any meaningful way until you are clear about what you require.  A good potential partner will ask you questions like these to determine if and how they can assist but you have to get clarity on what you are asking for.

If you need some names of partners who might be able to assist with your next project, please get in touch here.  My black book is stacked up against the Uno cards.

To keep the partnership theme rocking, I would like to share “Your love alone is not enough”.  Because the best partnerships are based on reliability, skill, not being a muppet and having clarity about what you need. Remember if you like the song, buy it and see you next week!