Prior to the pandemic, more and more businesses were starting to work with advertising, social media, marketing, design, creative and content development agencies long distance. It provided more opportunities to connect with the right talent, especially for businesses in markets with few or no people who do this type of work.
The pandemic has made people feel more comfortable than ever doing business long distance, which has only accelerated the trend to more virtual work relationships.
Still, you might feel uncomfortable making the move. Here are answers to the most common questions we get about working long distance with marketing professionals and agencies.
When does it make sense to work with remote talent or an agency long distance?
In the past, it was the only option when you couldn’t find people or agencies with the skills you needed in your own area. Some places are light on social media pros, website designers, digital artists or other specialists.
Today, businesses must be open to leveraging remote resources on all projects. It’s not a matter of finding ANY talent. It’s about identifying the BEST talent. It’s highly unlikely that any single place, even big cities like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, is home to superior people across all marketing disciplines. That’s why it makes sense to search everywhere, across the United States and the world, to find the best people and agencies to work for you.
Another benefit of doing this is that people from outside your area could offer you fresh perspectives and insights on new ways of thinking and doing things. You may be able to leverage your remote partners to introduce your products and services in their markets.
How can I get to know — and feel comfortable about working with — a remote worker or agency?
Like most long distance relationships, start digitally. Visit their websites and social media sites to find out who they are, what they’re about and the kind of work they do. Once you think they’re qualified to handle your work and could be a good fit, ask them to complete an application or RFP process. Don’t make it so cumbersome that you scare away qualified individuals or agencies. Simply ask questions that will help you know for sure that they could be a good fit for your business and project… or not. Qualification questions are important, but ones that delve into values may be more so. They will help you figure out if you’re adequately aligned to make a remote relationship work.
What’s next? Once I have my short list, how do I select the ideal finalist?
This is where the omnipresent Zoom meeting comes in. Prior to hiring individuals or agencies, set up a video get together. It’s a good way to get a read on people and ensure that what you’ve seen online and in writing is for real. Use your time to figure out whether the people you meet with via Zoom are ones you could envision working with on a project or having a long-term business relationship with.
If you’re hiring an agency for a long-term or complex opportunity, it might be worth an in-person visit, once the pandemic allows for it. If your spending is in the millions rather than the thousands, and the relationship could last for years, a site visit could be what it takes to help you rest assured you’re selecting the right long distance agency.
Once I choose an individual or agency to work with, how do I start things off (remotely) right?
- Begin with a virtual kick off meeting. It puts names to faces and sets expectations. It makes sure everyone is on the same page, even if they’re not in the same place.
- Decide on how you will communicate and share information. In some cases, a phone call or virtual meeting is adequate. However, over the long term, you will need an information sharing platform. Mobile Locker’s app makes it possible to communicate, pass files, comment on project work and monitor success long distance. Everyone will have the same view of their project work no matter where they are.
- Figure out how you’re going to collaborate. Marketing and creative pursuits are all about collaboration. It’s the only way you can be successful. You need to collaborate in a virtual environment in the same — or an even better — way than the real world. You should think of Mobile Locker’s platform as your collaborative play space.
- Plan for check ins. Once you start working together, figure out how often you need to meet. Should you get together once a week or once a month? Set this up right away. Make sure check-ins encourage conversations. Long distance business meetings often turn into serial monologues.
How do I keep the long distance relationship fresh, vital and valuable?
When you are located in the same place, it’s likely that you get closer together with the people or agencies you partner with over coffee, dinner, drinks and shared experiences. You celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and successes. The same MUST be true when you work long distance. Take time to build personal relationships. When things go right, make time for a Zoom celebration. Remember personal milestones.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that virtual relationships don’t have to be less than actual ones. And when nurtured properly, they could be better. Take steps NOW to figure out how you could maximize long distance marketing relationships during the pandemic.