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Why Our Content Marketing Agency Isn’t a Software Vendor Certified Partner

By Kathryn Hawkins. Content Strategy
Image Credit: Depositphotos/PixelsAway

We don’t white-label any software solutions for our marketing agency. Here’s why.

As inbound marketing takes off as a discipline, plenty of software vendors are coming along for the ride. There’s software for email marketing, lead generation, SEO optimization, interactive quizzes, marketing automation, curation, web content management, analytics, social media marketing, and much more.

We’ve gotten inquiries from numerous vendors asking us to join their partner reseller networks. That means we would be affiliates or resellers of their software product for our clients, making a profit every time we get our clients to buy the software. We’ve always said no.

Sometimes, it’s genuinely useful software. But even so, we’re not interested in becoming a dedicated representative for any software company. Why?

When your business model is focused on accepting kickbacks, you’re doing your clients a disservice.

We take pride in our company’s independence. We’re familiar with and actively use a number of paid software solutions, and are happy to talk about what we recommend and why. Occasionally, we may even recommend a specific product in a blog post, with a clearly marked affiliate disclosure. But we don’t push any content marketing or website development technology onto our clients as a default.

For agencies that make a practice of partnering with software vendors, there’s an automatic expectation that all of their clients will use that system (and get stuck paying its monthly fees and upgrade costs), regardless of whether that vendor is really the best fit for the client or not.

Affiliate resellers don’t have the creative freedom to make recommendations in their clients' best interest.

Once you’re tied to a particular technology, you’re not likely to keep an eye on the landscape to see if there are more affordable or more functional solutions that are better suited to filling your clients’ needs. My partner Jeff is constantly researching and analyzing new softwares and technologies to streamline our own business, and analyzing what makes sense for our clients.

We’re flexible in how we work with our clients: If they want to research and manage their marketing technology in-house, we’re happy to work within their system. If they want us to manage their technology, we’ll look carefully at their needs to decide what solution makes the most sense for them based on their budget and goals.

While we’re happy to make recommendations based on what we’ve found to be helpful, we’ll always be transparent about the positives and shortcomings of any solution.

White-labeling doesn’t create an honest relationship.

While some agencies are open about their affiliate relationships, others don’t disclose them. But if an agency mentions its “proprietary” software, chances are, it’s a third-party reseller program. Ask them about their technology and where it originates. If they won’t be honest about this, there’s a good chance they won’t be honest in your client relationship, either.

We feel no need to “white-label” any technology solution and make a markup on it; we earn our money by providing great service and high-quality content to our clients.

Occasionally, working with a certified or affiliate partner may be a fit—but only if you’re already sold on the software.

In certain cases, it can make sense to choose an agency that serves as an affiliate or reseller. They likely have an in-depth understanding of the software and its functionality to help you make the most of a platform.

However, choose such an agency only in a case where you’ve already thoroughly researched the technology and its alternatives, and you’re sure that you’ll be happy to be locked into a contract that relies on this software solution.

If you’re still deciding what kind of technology you need—or you want the freedom to change your mind down the line—stick with an independent marketing agency. They’ll help you measure the benefits and flaws of any technology solution, and leave the ultimate decision up to you.

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.

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