3 Ways to Qualify Marketing Help

“Getting good marketing help is one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses today,” according to Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends.  Anita acknowledges that, “marketing is more challenging today than ever” and “business success is all about finding the right outside service providers and using them wisely.”

interview employees

A common theme with small business owners is that they can’t afford the expense of marketing help. I’ve learned that whenever someone says they “can’t afford” something it usually means they don’t see the value of it. Savvy owners and managers do see the value of good marketing help. The problem is: finding and qualifying it.

Referrals are certainly a logical way to do it. And, often times they work out fine. On the other hand, what’s right for one business may be wrong for yours. If you understand that a marketing service is only as good as the top person (or people) behind it, learning as much as you can about that person is one of the best ways to qualify a marketing service and see if they’d be a good fit for you.

Here are 3 ways to do that:

1)  Google them: This is the broadest most objective way to get the scoop on anyone. It’s a great way to get a full picture. I call it “G-cred” for Google credibility. Just be sure you’ve got the right person since there are probably tons of others with the same name. You can get around that by adding a key word or two to refine the search – like adding the industry or profession. You might also add a geographic location. Since the person you’re searching for is supposed to be a savvy marketing pro it’d better not be real hard to find them, regardless of their name. So, if their “G-cred” sucks, consider that a reason to rule them out.

2)  LinkedIn Profile: Since every professional has one, you can also search there. Again, there could be tons of others with the same name so be sure you’ve got the right one. LinkedIn will provide a good sense of where they come from and how professionally qualified they are to service your business.

3)  Website Bio:  If you’re checking out their website there should be a bio on it. Let me rephrase that. If you’re checking out their website, there’d better be a bio on it. That said, I’m amazed at the number of companies that don’t post any bio info about the company leadership. That’s pretty dumb because all it does is raise a flag. As mentioned earlier, a company is only as good as the top people behind it.  If a site doesn’t include a great bio of the boss you’ve got to wonder why.

Rather than viewing marketing as an ‘expense’ Anita Campbell says that “marketing is an ‘investment’ to help you achieve your revenue goals faster.” She adds that

“Not finding the right outside resource will probably hobble your business.”

Do these things and it’ll increase your odds of getting the right marketing help that your business deserves.

This is part one of a three part series.  Check out part two, “3 More Ways to Qualify Marketing Help” and part three “5 Final Ways to Qualify Marketing Help.”

Potential Employees Photo via Shutterstock


John Follis John Follis heads up Big Idea Video, creator of short format, high concept video that captivates and persuades prospects. According to Forbes, 76% of marketers invest in video and make it their #1 marketing strategy. John Follis honed his talents as Creative Director and Co-founder of Follis/DeVito/Verdi, one of Madison Avenue’s most successful, award winning ad agencies.

19 Reactions
  1. John,

    Great post – and I would add the following to the list.

    Talk to them. Spend time with them. Get to know them before you make the decision. Don’t wait until you really need someone to go in search of the right match – since you will need some marketing assistance at some time, do some advanced work and get to know a few people that might be of assistance.

    Neither side wants to rush into something that turns out to be the wrong fit – and since both want to produce winning results, it makes sense to bring them in and ask for specifics on how they might help the organization achieve its goals.

    I, for one, will invest the time to come in and perform a needs diagnostic which identifies opportunities for improving sales and marketing performance. Then I can sit down with the owner/C-level executive and talk specifics in terms of [a] what needs to be done, [b] how, [c] when/time line, [d] budget and [e] projected return on investment/results. (The fee associated with this can be applied to the actual project, if I am hired.)

    At the end of that process, we have a much clearer understanding of who does what, when and why as well as what success looks like.

    Best, Pat

  2. John–
    This ties in with the Googling suggestion, but find marketing pros who are blogging and have a message you like. I find a lot of clients that way, from the various blogs I contribute to. My blog serves as a showcase of my skills and my mantra when it comes to marketing. Potential clients already feel like they know me after reading my posts!


  3. I like Pat’s suggestion about interacting with them a few times before jumping in with both feet. Have them do an audit (and DO pay them for it) or analysis to see how well they do their research and how well they communicate. You’ll also learn if their “style” fits with yours or will rub you the wrong way.

  4. Hi John, great suggestions. The sad thing about other people is that there are FREE resources for them to access experts but they don’t take advantage ;(

  5. VERY good points – especially, Googling them. You can find out a lot about a company just by researching additional search terms also like “company name portfolio” or “worked with company name”. I think once you find a company that you would be interested in engaging, it is also important to make sure they have a full scope of what you envision the project to be and one final question that everyone should be up front and ask is, “It sounds like you have the ability, but do you have the bandwidth to be able to complete my project in a timely fashion?” Set and clarify all realistic expectations before you make payment and make sure to have a written agreement for accountability! Great post John.

  6. Thanks, Joe, and you’re points are good as will.
    I think I need to do a Part Two, so stay tuned! 🙂

  7. I think a lot of the time it comes down to your gut feeling. If you feel good about the marketing expert, you’re probably on to something good. I also recommend asking for references. True, they’ll probably give you a list of their best clients, but if they can produce a list of happy clients, that should tell you something as well. Finally, do you like their voice in their own marketing material? That is a great indicator to determine if you’ve found you’re match. If you like what they’re saying and how they say it, you’ll probably like what they come up with for your own marketing message.