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How to Choose a Marketer in a Sea of Copycats


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It took about 4 months for Pete Ross’ Lifestyle Design? Shut the Fuck Up article on Medium to finally catch up to me. I’ve got to say, the guy isn’t lying. Read the comments and you’ll get some even greater insight into the current coaching/marketing/entrepreneurship fad. The whole thing is making it extremely difficult for business owners to know how to choose a marketer. All the while, those of us who have dedicated out lives to this field are having our skills and expertise diluted by a sea of copycats. Marketers — the real ones — clearly aren’t happy about it.

Nor should we be, honestly. Like many, I’ve navigated a career that has been fundamentally marketing, advertising and design-centric. More than 15 years of blood, sweat, tears and extremely late nights have gone into shaping skills and honing talents into what I do today. I studied journalism and love to write. I studied advertising and crave the strategy. I even studied PR and know how to layer connections on connections on connections to amplify the value of your effort. I’ve designed in-house for startups, agencies and major corporations. I’ve lead marketing initiatives across multiple teams. Fueled rebranding efforts. Developed social media strategies. Lead photo shoots. Written marketing plans. Managed budgets. Curated exceptionally targeted leads. Regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry (because everyone has to start somewhere and there certainly are fabulous marketers that are in their early stages) — there is much, much more to marketing than simply calling yourself a marketer.

Wow — I had no idea! | How to choose a marketer to fit your business from @marketmox

Marketing and creative are legitimate arts and sciences. None of the talents for either are acquired on a whim. Sadly, it’s become more imperative than ever that you know how to determine if a marketer is the right fit for your business and whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth. Try these:

Do your due diligence.

The Internet is a fabulous, fabulous place where, just because someone says they’re something, doesn’t mean you have to take their word for it. Enter “stalking.”

Anyone you’re hiring to handle your marketing — especially in the digital sense — should know how to market themselves. If they’re doing it right, that means there’s plenty of information about them all over the web. Do yourself a huge favor a be a proactive researcher.

Anyone you're hiring to handle your #marketing should know how to market themselves. Click To Tweet
  • Look at LinkedIn resumes and posts.
  • Google the company and your contact. Check pages 2 and 3, too, for anything intriguing.
  • Explore the company’s website.
    • Check for appropriate legal information like terms or privacy policies. Good marketers know they have to be there. Great marketers have all the little details and will stay on top of your little details, too.
  • Read their content. Especially if you’re hiring a content marketer, ensure that the content they produce is informed, conversational and well written. Bad grammar does not a content professional make.

You are hiring this person or company as if they were any other employee in your business. Know their background. Know their expertise. And don’t be afraid to ask them about it.

Get real answers.

When you’re hiring someone to take on this aspect of your business, it’s expected that you should have some questions about the process, strategies, expectations, etc. Ask them. And, when you do, make sure that you get real answers in return.

A skilled marketer will be informative. She or he will be able to clearly explain any piece of your marketing puzzle or will offer the appropriate trustworthy resources to find more information. When it comes to your campaign, ask about what you can expect to see happen. Marketers that have experience leveraging specific media will be able to give you a reasonable expectation of what will be achieved in your campaign. Don’t ever settle for “we’ll just wait and see.”

Expect a contract.

In hiring someone for their services, you should expect that there will be a clear, legally binding contract involved. No contract? No bueno. Not only do contracts help to protect both parties should you run into any hiccups, they also outline your agreement with your marketer. A contract will help to manage expectations and goals for your project, and you simply shouldn’t proceed without one. If your marketer suggests that it’s just not necessary, you should probably consider the reasons why.

Review the data.

Your marketer should provide you with campaign data and status updates as you work through your initiatives. Solid data-driven professionals will review metrics constantly and optimize accordingly. Even if you don’t typically see it. Ask to be involved in this process more often. Maybe a weekly or biweekly check in. If you don’t understand the data, ask your marketer to explain what is happening and make recommendations for next steps in the campaign. She or he should be able to give you informed, confident and data-driven guidance.

If you don't understand the #data, ask your marketer to explain and recommend next steps. Click To Tweet

Know what it’s worth.

Putting a value on marketing efforts is probably the most difficult of all items listed here when it comes to how to choose a marketer. Simply keep in mind that the old adage “you get what you pay for” is exceptionally true. Especially when we’re talking about professional services.

Experienced marketers know that your business has a budget. They know how to be respectful of that budget while also making the most of every single dime. In turn, leveraging that skill for your campaign will often cost you a bit more than an unexperienced marketer. But here’s the trade: you’re getting amplified value from your media buy — well beyond that of a risky campaign that falls flat.

While an unexperienced marketer may underquote or offer services for a measly fraction of the marketplace value — you have to acknowledge that a certain percentage of your media buy is being thrown into the wind. (If you choose to go this route, please let me know. I’ve always wanted to grab floating cash out of one of those wind-tunnel things.) If you set yourself up with someone that doesn’t know the ins and outs of targeting, strategy and more, you run the legitimate risk of seeing absolutely no benefit from your investment whatsoever.


Worth noting: one guy, in the comments of Ross’ article, mentions that everyone has an opportunity to try. I agree with this completely and, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, love to see others jumping in to tackle their goals. What I don’t love seeing is well-intentioned clients getting completely swindled. In selling you my services, I’ve got to be bringing something to the table. I’ve got to hold up my end of the deal. And, without years of in-the-field experience, I’m just not entirely sure how any of these faux marketers can promise you that.

The trend is dangerously moving through so, so many industries right now. Design is being hit hard as well. The difference seems to be that design is, obviously, visual and bad design can usually be pointed out easily — even by an untrained eye. Still, that doesn’t stop inexperienced designers from selling you the keys to the promised land (keys that they don’t actually have, by the way). In marketing, consulting or coaching, good and bad are measured in relation to goals and achievements. You can identify success, but it often takes a little time and, without that experience to guide you, it’s going to be harder for you to notice when campaigns aren’t quite right.

Invest in a resource you genuinely trust. #digitalmarketing #howtochooseamarketer Click To Tweet

Ultimately, my best piece of advice — right here, right now — is to use the tips above to determine whether or not the fit is right, then invest in a resource you genuinely trust. Whether that be your own DIY method, a marketer with a phenom history or a new-to-the-scene marketer that has built a good reputation with you.

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