Interviewing Your Marketing Firm: How to Find the Right Marketer or Publicist for You
I love meeting new people with great ideas that just need a little promotional push to get their business, event, or product on a roll. But what I don't love is that last-minute panic that drives an otherwise-rational professional to make a rash decision about who they'll bring on their team to captivate their target audience.
Here's what I want you to ask me - or any marketing agency, PR firm, or marketing/communications candidate that will work for you - before you decide on your marketing team:
Do they understand your target audience?
This matters more than any other single factor. They must understand what the demographics that are most likely to want what you're offering and how to capture their attention, whether patrons, press, or customers.
What's their scope?
There are many areas of marketing, so be clear on what you need and what they can do - advertising, publicity, graphic design, web design, copywriting, social media strategy - will you need multiple vendors or can you get it all done in one place? Also, are they consultants or executors - do you want someone to coach you on how to do it in house, or do you want it taken care of for you?
What do their previous clients have to say?
Get those testimonials, references, and case studies. Let their reputation precede them.
What are the stats?
Some elements of marketing are immeasurable... but others are completely trackable. By how much have they grown a similar client's audience? Have sales increased? Media impressions? What specific media placements have they landed before? On the flipside - run in the opposite direction if they over-promise specific results that just aren't promise-able - no (ethical) marketer can guarantee sales and no publicist can guarantee placements (unless they're publishing their own newspaper!), but they should be able to give you an idea of what you can reasonably expect and what needs to be done to reach your promotional goals.
Do they love your product?
Enthusiasm for your idea shines through the pitch. They'll work harder and more passionately if they're on board with your concept.
Will they listen to you?
I like to say to potential clients that they're the parent, I'm just the nanny. Yes, I'm responsible for the growth and development of their company, but when it comes to the big decisions, it's up to my client to call the shots and my job is to provide insight and support.
Have you comparison-shopped?
Engaging a marketing firm or even an individual freelancer can be a substantial investment. It can pay off to know who's out there, what they can do, and what they charge before making a final decision. Talk to at least three different candidates, and meet in person or at least via video chat to get determine if you have rapport.
What's your gut instinct?
If something just doesn't sit right, even if you can't put your finger on it, say thank you and move on.
And please, please do not choose solely on budget. Choose based on value - what are you getting for your investment, both in the short and long term? Great marketing is an investment in your business and its longevity - give it the consideration, dedication, and team it deserves.