I’m a marketing consultant who is going to tell you to be on alert when looking to hire a marketing firm or consultant.
And the reasons are aplenty.
Every week I consult with small business owners, in client meetings, the workshops I run, and as an advisor at the Small Business Development Center here in Fort Collins, CO.
I also consult with a variety of people who have been tasked with marketing a business.
Both parties are usually interested in hiring me but some are often wary of jumping into another marketing “relationship.”
These people are cautious for good reason.
Due to the fact that they’ve been burned in one or more of the following ways:
1. They were locked into a contract and forgotten after they signed on the dotted line.
2. The website created for the business is not user-friendly and they must rely on a developer for every small change needed.
3. The person they hired has made promises that he or she cannot keep.
Some of the business owners I meet with tell me how they feel neglected, don’t see results, and are not being taken care of like they thought they would be.
I’m assuming you want to avoid this headache.
So today, I simply want to share some things to consider before you hire someone to market your business.
1. It’s pointless to market your business without specific goals.
Marketing is a set of strategies to help you achieve certain business goals.
For marketing to work, you need to clearly define the business objectives your marketing strategy will support.
Clear, focused goals you can act on. Here’s a basic example of what a clear-cut goal might look like…
We must improve our SEO.
Based on research we know the term “personal trainer” is the most commonly searched for phrase potential clients type in a Google search.
To grow we want to rank in the top three search results for the term “personal trainer.”
And we estimate a top three ranking for this term will bring 200 new people to our site each month.
So we will optimize our site for that key phrase and create a blogging calendar around other commonly searched for terms in our space.
This is just an example but it clearly defines how a specific goal should be framed.
So if you plan to hire a marketing consultant, do two things…
a.) Set goals before you meet with anyone.
b.) When you meet with a consultant ask them to describe exactly how their approach will help you attain your goals.
2. Focus on your buyer’s needs first.
Your business is probably suited to serve a narrowly defined set of people.
Reaching these people is your key to marketing success.
And step one in this process is clearly defining who they are.
So if you are looking to hire someone to handle your marketing, define who your ideal customers are, and do the following…
a.) Get the details needed to create an ideal customer persona.
b.) Ask your marketer to outline their process for defining and setting a strategy to reach the right people.
3. Craft words that will attract your ideal customer.
For marketing to work, crystal clear messaging is needed.
Clarity built to cut through the noise and appeal to the right customers.
What core problem will you solve for them?
Why are you uniquely qualified to do this?
And why should they buy from you?
This is about defining and articulating your primary competitive advantage in a way that speaks directly to them.
To do so you need to:
1. Define your unique skill, service, product.
2. Know exactly who you want to reach.
3. Write clear, compelling copy that speaks to them.
The person you hire to handle your marketing must have a framework for this. Make sure they do by…
a.) Learning how to write a positioning statement.
b.) Ask them what their plan is to position your business for success.
4. Know the competition
If you want to grow your business you need to match or better your competitors.
To do so ongoing competitive research must be a part of your marketing strategy.
It’s how you stay ahead and it’s an essential part of marketing that works.
What are the core areas to focus on when researching your competition?
Their brand, their hub, and their content. This includes SEO, online advertising, content, and more. And here’s what you need to do…
a.) Learn the best way to research your competitors.
b.) If you meet with a marketing consultant, have them summarize their competitive research strategies.
5. Make your website a crowd-pleasing hub.
Do you want your website to be a lead magnet or a lead balloon?
The answer is obvious but what are your plans to accomplish this?
Your website must cut through the clutter and engage the right people.
It needs strong, engaging, and direct copy.
It should also be designed with SEO in mind.
And pretty fonts, cool photos, and bold colors are not enough.
Your website needs to be a robust marketing platform.
Thoughtful planning is step one to making your website your marketing hub.
How much should you pay for web design?
What platform should it be on?
And what key factors do you need to consider?
a.) Start with a website checklist and bone up on how much a website should cost.
b.) Go through your checklist before you talk to any marketer or web designer. Ask them about their audit process. Have them define the key steps to designing a website that clearly articulates what you do, has the bells and whistles that are needed, and is built to help grow your business.
6. Have a plan to measure marketing success.
Before you start a marketing plan you need to ask yourself the following: How am I going to check to see if our marketing actions are successful?
This is because you can’t effectively grow your business through marketing without knowing what works.
And, if you’re working with someone you need to answer this very important question: Are you getting what you are paying for?
Since there are so many metrics you could track and numerous tools available to do so, you need to whittle this down to something manageable.
a.) First, decide what you are going to track and simply ask a few questions. For example, if you consider more site visits a successful outcome, what do you need to do? A basic outline might look like this: I install Google Analytics on my site, consistently measure monthly visits, and create a process to generate and promote ongoing content to attract the right people.
b.) Ask your potential marketer what their plan is for tracking and measuring success.
These steps will help you determine how to proceed and who to hire. It will also make it easier to decide how much you’re willing to invest in marketing to take your business to the next level.
The truth? The vast majority of marketers treat clients right. But just like any industry, there are a few pretenders who give our industry a bad name.
Some small business owners are taken advantage of by certain people who can’t deliver the goods.
So, if you’re considering hiring someone to handle your marketing, my advice is to research, analyze, and ask the right questions.
Use this post as your guide and get started.