There’s never been a better time to start your own business, but don’t let the wannabes of marketing put your hard work, and reputation, at risk.
Marketing is much more than common sense, and when done well, means only good things, but get it wrong, and you’ll know. Here’s how you can tell the difference between a marketing wannabe and an expert.
Starting a business and then both running and succeeding with it is a tiring, often stressful, but ultimately rewarding thing. I know all too well of that, and as I speak to new and existing customers, I hear of their stories and just how much they sacrificed to get ahead.
Naturally, I take pride in the fact that these calibre of businesses seek my help, but more worrying are the tales of terror that I come across where a business has fallen to a marketing ‘agency’ who have claimed major, major things, such as:
- ‘Give me all of your existing customer names and I’ll give you back 1000s of similar contacts’
- I can get you to rank page one on Google
- We will earn your business 100s of links back to your site
- We have expert copywriters, social media gurus and in-house design masters
Somehow, these agencies only seem to be growing in their numbers, and their promises are even more bold and outrageous than the last. Unfortunately, the results range from GDPR infractions, 100s of illegally generated links to your site, and design work which could have been, and likely was, created in PowerPoint.
There are many marketing agencies out there who aren’t like this, and thankfully that is the majority. But, knowing the difference between a wannabe and an expert can be tricky when you’re after marketing support. To find out why many claim to be marketing experts, the principles of marketing, and the tell tales signs of lies, read on…
Is marketing just common sense?
It goes without saying, this is the number one point that you will hear: ‘marketing is common sense’.
Marketing has, for the longest time, been a profession all too often confused with advertising (yes, Don Draper and Chandler are to blame for that), sales or creating fluffy messages about what food you’ve had for dinner and posting it to Instagram.
Yes, there is a tremendous amount of common sense that goes into marketing. You need to think clearly about your identity, your offer, your audience and how you can get your product in front of the right people at the right time.
That’s common sense, but actually, Al Rise puts it perfectly when talking about marketing sense.
Common sense will dictate that you need a slogan, perhaps ‘taste the rainbow’. But, marketing sense will tell you that all adverts, website pages, social media posts, customer service, after sales and beyond need speak to this slogan.
Adding in a second slogan, such as ‘all the flavours under the sun’ would cause confusion with your customers, and damage the value of your brand.
If you can’t decide on one slogan, that shows a lack of quality and consistency, and that means your yellow flavoured sweets might not be lemon, but actually orange!
Here are some other obvious, common sense approaches to marketing that you should already be thinking about or are currently doing:
- Have a website and social media accounts
- Run local sponsorships
- Work with companies which compliment your offer
- Network at local chambers of commerce
What are the principles of marketing?
Where to begin…
Well, marketing itself is actually a science. There are endless academic papers, university degrees, magazines, events and membership charters which teach and celebrate marketing.
In fact, let’s dig deeper and look at the likes of Phillip Kotler, the Godfather of marketing.
Kotler introduced the world to the core of marketing: the four Ps (later to become the seven Ps). Kotler managed to distill marketing into 7 principles:
- Product: Asking if your product/service is suitable for your audience and their needs (now and in the future)
- Prices: Examine and reexamine your prices to walk the line between being attractive to consumers and not weakening your product value
- Promotion: This is predominantly how we think of marketing – the output of promoting yourself on Facebook, sending an email etc. But it must be underpinned by a clear strategy, such as the SOSTAC model.
- Place: Where are you actually selling the product/service. Where is the best place to find your audience?
- Packaging: First impressions count. So whether it’s physical or digital, make sure the moment your customer first interacts with your product is positively memorable.
- Positioning: How do customers think of your brand and product when you aren’t promoting in front of them? Is it positive, what is the first thing they think about you?
- People: Think about the people you employ or work with to make your product / service. Ensure they represent your brand in their attitude and quality of work
If we look further, modern day marketing marvels include the likes of Mark Ritson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Steve Jobs, Joe Rogan, Richard Branson and the list goes on. There are endless examples of people who have mastered marketing, not only in a theoretical sense, but in terms of creating real business and real revenue.
What becomes clear is that marketing requires more than an email blast, or a social media post. In fact, the likelihood is that the actual marketing of your business will take up more of your time than you imagine.
Checklist: The tell tale signs of a wannabe marketer
So, now you know what goes into a marketer’s day, you’re in a better position to think critically about making the best choice for your business when it comes to marketing.
However, that doesn’t stop a seemingly great marketing agency coming your way and offering their services, claiming to have the knowledge and experience they need to deliver the results your business needs. That’s why we’d suggest you use this checklist to separate the wheat from the chaff:
Ask about their work across SEO, content, web design, web development, social media, PPC, graphic design, value propositioning, messaging hierarchy, buyer personas, competitor scanning etc. Gauge their abilities and how it maps to your needs.
2) Goals, goals, goals
If they’re asking you about your goals, KPIs and reporting, the agency has a commercial mind. Ask them for a free consultation of recommendations, and look out for their ability to take basic information such as your average order size, competitors, web traffic etc. to get a sense of their credentials.
3) Bought data
I can’t believe this has to be said in 2020, but it is not acceptable to buy email data. If the agency promotes this as a growth tactic, turn away, run and never look back. Whilst this may produce short term results, it’s certain to land you in hot water with the ICO.
How prompt are they with responding to messages, attending meetings on time, and giving structure to your conversations? These are great signs of a planner because, after all, a great marketer is a great planner.
5) Size doesn’t matter
Yes, it’s funny to say, but it’s also true. An agency with 30 people can do just as poor, or good, of a job vs. a one man band. Get a sense of who they are, their work and then judge for yourself.
6) Happy customers make for a happy you
Ask for referrals from existing customers. Don’t settle for a stock quote, actually get contact details and have a real conversation. But, and I stress, don’t forget to ask for work that has been completed for similar businesses to yours – that’s a must!
It’s obvious, but if you are being pressured into a decision, that’s a sign of
desperation and to steer clear from the agency.
Hopefully this blog will help you to separate the bad eggs from the good ones!
At Flamingo Marketing Strategies we offer a free 30-60 minute strategy call, if you’d like to tell us all about your business and your plans for 2020 – we’d love to hear them.
Flamingo Marketing Strategies Ltd is a marketing agency in Leamington Spa. We work with small to medium-sized businesses, creating bespoke marketing ideas for B2B and B2C. If you are targeting a local audience, we won’t work with any other companies from the same industry within an agreed milage radius. If you’re targeting a national or international audience, we won’t work with any other companies from the same industry at all. Our job is to make sure we position YOU as the flamingo of your marketplace.