Working with suppliers: tips for publishers

At some point you’ll need some techie input or skilled support to get a project off the ground. Working with a supplier, who specialises in publishing, can add value in a number of ways. From the delivering technology, or even just providing expert guidance; there’s a lot to be gained.

At YUDU we’ve been working with publishers for over 10 years, and here are some tips we’ve learned to make the venture as successful as possible. Hopefully this tips on how to build successful relationships with suppliers will help, by extension, to build successful products as a whole.

Clarity

By this I mean clarity of communication and planning with the aim of reducing surprises down the line. Get examples of what the project might look like. If it’s a new initiative, sign off on a prototype. See something that gives you the assurance that both parties are on the same page. Try to have a meeting where you both estimate where you see the project will be going, who it will be targeting and so on, there needs to be as much asymmetry of information between the two parties as possible.

Finish

A number of times we’ve started a project with one forward-thinking innovator; who then gets pulled onto another project, leaving us with a replacement and someone who isn’t totally on-board with the decision. If you do get the budget to take on a supplier for a project, make sure you see it to the end. It’s a great shame when an initiative dwindles and burns as both suppliers and publishers can become emotionally invested in making it a success and building something we’re all proud of.

Marketing

Like it or not, your Marketing team are going to be the key to the success of any initiative. Don’t develop a product; to bring marketing in 2 days before launch. A solid marketing strategy will need to be developed and implemented at least 6 months before a project goes live. On that note, unless a supplier indicates that they have a marketing ‘arm’; assume that you will be taking responsibility for marketing your new project.

Timings

Anyone who has any experience with coding and tech will know to take the estimated delivery time and double it, then add on another half; and that’s your realistic date of completion. With that in mind, get the deliverable dates established as soon as possible, and make sure that everyone from proof-readers to designers and brought into the loop. As many pairs of eyes in possible in fact, often mistakes and inconsistencies will be pointed out from potentially unlikely sources.

Business model

It’s worth taking the time, when first meeting suppliers to explain your business model. Sometimes all parties are so focused on the product in discussion that they forget to focus on the bigger picture. By giving your supplier an insight into how the product will fit into your overall strategy; firstly they can be more consultative in how they approach the working relationship and secondly they have a much deeper understanding of where they fit in and how they can extend their services to help you.

Communication is crucial

On top of all of this, don’t let communication slide as other projects come into your workload. Schedule in calls and stick to them. Even a ten minute update is better than nothing. If you share a vision with your supplier, and keep advocating the direction you are working towards (or similarly, your supplier can keep you focused on their vision), then the momentum for any given project can be sustained and success achieved.

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