When it comes to getting marketing help it can be difficult to understand what you'll get. One of the reasons for this is that marketers are good at positioning themselves. They will often have glossy collateral that seems to cover all your bases. But, not all are able to follow through. Working your way through this is a major challenge for small business owners that are already stretched running the business.
You don't need to know a lot to be able to filter out the hype from reality. It comes down to knowing what questions to ask.
Before you start asking potential providers questions, there are a few things that you need to know to work out what is going to work for you.
The two key questions are:
· What are your marketing goals? Are you looking for a short-term fix or long-term solution?
· What tasks are you comfortable outsourcing? What would you rather have done in-house?
Once you've worked out these basic parameters you'll be able to better assess your options. When looking for help there are 4 areas to assess:
What experience do they have?
They don't need to have experience in your industry to be effective. What is more important is that they have done the type of marketing that your business needs. Do you sell business to business or business to consumer? If a marketing professional has only dealt with heavy industry then handling a surf retailer is going to be challenging. The approach to each is different.
Beyond industry experience, the other thing to consider is the typical client size. This is going to affect their approach to getting a return on the marketing spend. Larger businesses often have the budget for brand building activities. But smaller clients want to see a direct return on their marketing activities.
Do they have feedback and case studies from existing or previous clients?
Often what is not said is just as telling as what is. Did they exceed the expectations of their clients or give them exactly what they asked for?
Without a detailed knowledge of marketing, you're unlikely to know all the options with marketing. You want people who can give you more than you think is possible.
Why do they want to work for you?
Understanding what your business will mean to them is a way to assess how they will view you as a client. Are they chasing awards or publicity, or do they want to give your business the best returns? This is more applicable when it comes to dealing with agencies. You can work this out by listening to how they talk about other clients. Do they focus on the return on investment they delivered? Or about how great the imagery was or how clever an ad campaign was?
How do they market themselves?
While referrals or recommendations are a good sign of a proficient and respected marketer, it isn't enough. It's also important that they have been able to generate new business through their own marketing activities. If they can't generate new customers for their own business, how will they do that for yours?
Not getting the help you need is not the right choice either. You want to be growing your business and marketing help is a key ingredient. Getting the right help will mean that you'll make better use of your limited resources. It will also set you up for future growth. Ask these questions to work out who is right for you.
**Jill is a marketing consultant for small businesses that think differently. She is a mentor and the founder of Harbren Marketing and has been in the small business trenches for around 20 years. Get a copy of the Marketing Kickstart Kit to discover the top mistakes that small businesses make with their marketing and how to fix them.