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BEST PRACTICE: Getting the best out of suppliers

With Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall living off the fruits of his labour in 'River Cottage', participants of 'Grand Designs' and its ilk stripping, plumbing, tiling and painting solo, one might assume that self-sufficiency is the new outsourcing. Perish that thought marketer. Yes, there is a growing trend for sizzling the bacon of your own pig, but in marketing circles self-sufficiency is not expected and this is particularly true for SMEs where internal resources are already stretched to the limit.

A SME might typically employ on average five marketing suppliers – a printer, PR, creative agency, data provider and website designer, for example – and some may argue that the best approach is to outsource and 'leave them to it'. This will free up the client's time, the job will get done and everyone's a winner – but are they? Few suppliers would admit it but the more they like the client, the better the relationship; and the better the relationship, the better the work.

Darren Ford, senior procurement specialist at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), says, “Small businesses buying marketing services don't always tap into the value-added extras. For example; they may get a branding solution free of charge, but this depends on the nature of the relationship.” And it's not the contractual terms of the relationship he's referring to – it's simply whether both parties get on.