You get what you pay for: How to select a professional marketing partner
Everyone seems to be an expert these days when it comes to marketing. Every time you turn around, there is a new marketing company popping up, offering a variety of marketing services, but with questionable credentials.
Radio stations, television stations, newspapers, and magazine publishers are getting into the game. And website development companies and sales agencies are all shouting from the rooftops about how they are professional marketers, dedicated to helping small businesses grow.
And what about the “social media” experts who look for guidance and education about social media marketing on, you guessed it, social media?
To be fair, traditional media outlets and single focused service providers have been hammered for the last few years, and are finally beginning to try to to diversify in terms of the products they can offer clients. And, since we live in a “do it yourself” world, where there is no shortage of YouTube videos showing us how to do whatever it is we decide to do, and there are probably literally thousands of blogs that can outline and offer guidance, it makes sense that people think they can train themselves in all of the aspects of effective marketing.
But just because you offer products or services and can watch YouTube and read blogs, it doesn’t make you a marketing professional. These things don’t replace years of experience. Experience in a variety of markets, across a number of industries, in several different platforms. Most importantly, if you don’t integrate analytics and have a methodology for evaluating results, you can’t be an effective marketer.
The reality is that marketing is as much science as it is art. It requires research, trial and error, and analysis. Marketing that is conducted without these three things may appear to work. But you may never even really know whether it is worthwhile.
So how do you make sure you hire a true marketing professional, not a “guru” or a salesperson whose mission is to close a sale? You should consider the following four areas:
This is the number one thing characteristic that you should look for in a marketing professional you bring in to help you.
It is easy enough to come across as an expert if you know all the latest jargon or are familiar with the latest, hot platforms. By contrast, someone who graduated from college 15 years ago with a degree in business or marketing would not necessarily be able to navigate today’s marketing world without years of practical experience in between.
A marketing professional needs to have practical experience in a variety of marketing methods so that they can:
- Understand your business
- Explore all of the alternatives available for you
- Identify what it is that you need to do to move to the next step
- Ultimately impact your profit margins.
Experience within your industry is helpful, but realistically, any experience that can be correlated to yours would be enough to show whether the person or firm you are hiring has the skills that you need, and that those skills have been tried, tested and proven in a variety of scenarios. They need to have developed and implemented overarching marketing strategy across a variety of media that has resulted into a profitable successful campaign.
At least for now, in 2020, any marketing professional who is expected to perform a marketing campaign needs to have experience in digital marketing. Merriam-Webster defines marketing “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service”. Digital marketing is anything that you are doing digitally (online) to accomplish that. It includes:
- Website Development and Design
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Content Development and Distribution
- Mobile Marketing
Knowledge about one of these areas without intimate knowledge of how each of them affect one and interact with another is fruitless.
Digital marketing, as you can see if you look at the list above, is a constantly evolving discipline. Marketers need to have a mix of past experience, and be committed to staying abreast of all of the changes that impact marketing results and performance. Effective marketing professionals should regularly update themselves on the latest technologies and trends, best practices, and analytical methods.
Range of Experience
When we talk about wanting to hire professionals with a range of experience, we are referring to wanting professionals who have worked with a variety of marketing methods, in a variety of industries. Working with multiple marketing methods and media on a single campaign to produce results would be ideal.
The reality is that marketing a restaurant is very different from marketing a retail establishment which is also different from marketing an insurance agency. Having experience with marketing strategy and deployment in each of these industries provides marketers with a well-rounded base of knowledge that will impact how they develop new strategies and plans. One of the benefits of bringing in a marketing professional is their new perspective on your business, in your industry, in your market, so having a broad range of experience means that they will be able to offer unique, thoughtful and proven solutions.
In order to know whether a campaign is successful, a marketer has to be able to conduct analysis. They should ask questions at the outset about what your goals are so that they can gauge the success of the campaign against those goals.
They should be prepared to share an expected Return on Investment (ROI) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) for their campaign before it starts. They should definitely provide one when it is over.
Both ROI and CAC are universal benchmarks that should be applied to ANY marketing campaign, and, some might argue, every marketing dollar spent. And they are both dollars. That means that the goal of marketing has to ultimately be to bring in dollars. A marketing campaign shouldn’t be designed to just increase the likes on your company page…the purpose of the campaign has to be tied back to what you think the value of those likes are.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios:
Let’s say you decide that Facebook is where you need to focus in order to grow your business. You decide to hire a “social media expert” who has successfully worked with and developed Facebook pages with lots of followers. They go to work on your Facebook page, creating posts that are designed to get people’s attention, paying for exposure where they need to and building up the number of people to follow your page.
So it was a success, right? Or was it?
The reality is that you don’t really know whether the Facebook likes you brought in as a result of the campaign converted to actual sales. Getting Facebook followers shouldn’t really be the ultimate goal, unless you are able to quantify what each follower means to your bottom line.
A seasoned marketing professional might ask you about your level of engagement with your followers, and what data you might have to show the value of each of those likes. The focus would then be back on the value of Facebook in terms of dollars to you and your business.
Don’t get me wrong; marketing on Facebook is important and can be beneficial for virtually every business out there. You would be hard pressed to find a US business that couldn’t benefit from a Facebook presence, if for no other reason than the impact that it has on SEO. But how you spend your marketing dollars makes a difference in the outcome, and ensuring that dollars spent will make a difference to your profit and sales should be part and parcel of every marketing program.
You open your business and get a sales visit from the local radio station sales person. After reviewing a radio advertising proposal, you determine that you simply can’t afford radio advertising at this point. So he points out that they have “digital marketing” options, which includes placing an ad on their website, and help setting up your Facebook page so that people viewing the ad would have someplace to go.
You sign the contract and wait. And wait.
What he doesn’t share at the beginning is the volume of traffic that they have on their website, which may be largely impacted by contests that are held, and so may not be representative of the real daily or weekly figures.
And the sales person also may not be thinking about whether this approach is the best use of your marketing money. As a representative of the radio station, he only has access to the tools available to him through the company that he works for, and he is not able to offer much beyond that, even if it is the best thing for your company.
The bottom line is just that…the bottom line. Marketing is not a commodity for businesses. It is a necessity. Many business owners look at marketing as almost an afterthought, and it is often the first thing that is set aside in an effort to balance a budget or adjust to seasonal ups and downs. Instead of looking at marketing as an investment in the company, business owners look at marketing as a non-essential activity, and they are therefore more likely to hire marketing professionals based on the lowest bid. They don’t consider that they might be wasting money on a campaign that won’t work. They aren’t looking at the expected results.
Platinum Passports Marketing is an established marketing business, with a wide range of experience working with businesses of all shapes and sizes. Our consulting and strategy sessions are designed to help identify all of the things that you should consider looking at to help grow your business. Our commitment is to you, and your success is our success. We know.
Please let us know if we can help you establish your business objectives, identify your target audience, and determine the best ways to market your business. You can send us an email at [email protected], or give us a call at (509)842-0782.