As a marketer, talking with venders and business partners can be tiring. You have a budget (that you may not control), and you have a list of goals to help your business move forward over the next year. If you've ever had trouble getting everything done under budget, it may be time to rethink your approach.

Some companies may work with the same vendors year after year, while others choose to keep things fresh and try new talent in the area for corporate events, advertising, and more. Whatever approach your company prefers, use these insights into marketing relationships to build stronger partnerships and secure better contracts every time.

1. Talk to vendors.

Wow, what a concept--getting to know the people you want to work with. Great vendors don't rely on cold-calls. They're the ones who rub shoulders with marketers at networking events and take the time to get to know their prospects. Keep your options open at these events, and make a note of the individuals who seem most personable. They may likely be the ones who are fun and worthwhile to work with. Choosing local vendors can also often provide secondary benefits like business referrals.

2. Talk to venues.

Approach venues before you start planning an event. Tour spaces. Find out whether or not the company restricts which caterers and vendors they work with. Keep information about capacity, accessibility, rates, and amenities on file for easy access when you need it. Before you contact a venue about an event, remember to have your venue budget numbers, prospective dates, an expected head count, and other requirements ready to go. It is often wise to avoid sharing your budget until you know the venue's standard rates.

3. Think long-term.

If you have a great vendor who consistently delivers high-quality products or services, think about your company's long-term goals. While it may not be prudent to start stocking up for five or 10 years down the road, you may secure a discount by partnering with a caterer or buying products in bulk for a year or two.

4. Become financially savvy.

Someone in your marketing team needs to understand finances very well. It may be time to consider a higher degree in finance to help you really push your marketing efforts to the next level and grow your business. Remember that a financial education can help in every job, your personal life, and especially when it comes to budgeting.

5. Understand risk.

In addition to your other budget items, try to keep 10 percent of the total budget allocated for risk so you can try something new if it arises. Just remember to track the success of any new endeavor.

6. Research the competition.

Competitive intelligence is gold. Networking events are a great place to learn about what other marketers are doing and what is working. Manage a few relationships with noncompetitors so you can share best practices and experiences in your market. For direct competitors, look online. Social media, online reviews, and more often yield usable campaign information.

7. Use analytics.

Without measurement, there's no way to truly understand the ROI of your efforts. Too many marketing teams make the mistake of living in the safe zone and pursuing strategies that have always been used. Use hard data analytics for campaigns and soft analytics (e.g., touch points and follow ups earned from company-sponsored events) for client interactions to determine the true value of your marketing efforts.

Marketing is about more than sending out emails and showing up at events. It is the driving force behind brand recognition and sales efforts. With a strong financial understanding, some good reporting tools, and the willingness to negotiate for a fair price, you will find you can do more with less and grow your bottom line.

Published on: Jun 23, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.