Any company serving the direct marketing industry, especially those serving non-profits, should be universally referred to as ESSENTIAL Partners.
We must acknowledge and adopt this Essential Partners terminology to move away from terms like vendor, supplier, printer, mailer, commingler, trucker, etc. Research has proven that changing the way we speak to others (and ourselves) through making better word choices can impact our optimism and improve the willingness of others to hear what we are saying.
These Essential Partners’ resilience, ingenuity, and courage exhibited over the past 800+ days were the reason most, if not all, organizations had some of their best years of fundraising in the past two decades.
Showing gratitude to our essential partners can be done by referring to our direct marketing manufacturing business partners as Essential, because they were then, are now, and will be going forward. The second action you can take is to look at the list below and use this as a guide for how you lead in your role when it comes to engaging with these partners. I expect much of this will be common sense; and yet, there is nothing common about the new landscape that we are being called to lead through.
The following list is a compilation of my own experiences and conversations with essential partners, along with recent essential partner surveys. The surveys measured feedback on not only what we can do better as a partner, but also what our partners would like our clients and industry at large to understand. According to the survey, our partners’ top challenges and needs were: Staffing – retention and adding new staff, material shortages, and rising costs across the board (even things like electricity and water, maintenance, office products, glue/gum for envelopes, ink), significantly higher wages and benefits to compete with larger manufacturing or warehouse businesses, and to sum it all up – extreme volatility with surging demand.
Here are some ways you can engage and support best:
I don’t expect this list to feel unfamiliar to you for building respect, trust, and harmony amongst human beings and business partners. Though, it does take awareness, acceptance, and intention to conduct yourself and your business with essential partners in this way. And I can assure you it will make a world of difference in how our essential partners perform because it will give them more positive energy, inspiration, and goodwill that they desperately need to continue their critical work.
Let us keep a movement for good going and help one another stay optimistic and inspired to keep coming to work each day. We all make a huge difference in how others experience their work, which influences the quality of their life, and the quality of their relationships with those around them. What goes around comes around. So, let’s take a moment to reset as humans doing great work in the world, for each other, through one small act of good intention and effort every day.