Are you looking for a marketing consultant who can assist your business growth or help you overcome a challenging situation?
Judging by the number of SME clients who we have worked with who have previously been let down by their chosen marketing partner, it is easy to see why so many business owners are concerned that marketing people over-promise and under-deliver.
We believe the problem in the industry is multifaceted and is unlikely to go away in a hurry – here is an examination of some of the industry issues. Hence the purpose of this article is to assist SME business owners in selecting the right marketing professionals to work on their business.
At qubePartners we don’t hide behind jargon nor try to impress you with it
At qubePartners we don’t hide behind jargon nor try to impress you with it – talking of which this is hilarious! You know your business better than anybody else – we know how to get you in front of your target audience, with the right message at the lowest possible cost.
At qubePartners our experienced marketing consultants have the expertise to increase your sales and decrease your costs.
Marketing is about common sense so it is best to interview a few providers and see who makes most sense to you. Make sure to get references and see examples of their work before making the final decision. Most importantly, you need to be comfortable with how well the marketing consultant understands the key drivers in your business.
Here is a list of questions that will assist you in selecting the right marketing consultant for your business:
1. How many years experience does the marketing consultant have in the marketing industry?
Anything over 10 years is acceptable.
2. How many years experience does the marketing consultant have in consulting to small medium enterprises (SME’s)?
Less than 2 years is unacceptable. Consulting in general is one of the most transient industries and marketing is no different.
Anyone can call himself or herself a consultant and in fact over 8,000 individuals in Australia do so, but your chances of finding an independently accredited professional consultant are just 1 in 12!
So make sure that the marketing consultant you are talking to is a member of a professional marketing or consulting body, at the very least this means they have the right education / qualification.
3. How many different product / service categories has the marketing consultant worked across?
The more diverse the marketing consultant’s background the more likely they are to provide your business with innovative ideas on how to find, attract and retain customers.
4. Has the marketing consultant worked both in the corporate world and small medium enterprise?
The diversity of the marketing consultant’s experience across both big and small businesses is a great asset to your business, as each camp can learn much from the other. A marketing consultant that has worked with big business has the planning discipline and knowledge that can only be gained working at the big end of town. A marketing consultant that has worked with small and medium enterprises will have the street smarts that come only after one has experienced the limitations of tiny budgets that force a marketing consultant to think outside the square.
5. Does your prospective marketing consultant have B2C (Business to Consumers) and B2B (Business to Business) experience?
Although the marketing principles are the same each type of market – B2C and B2B – have their own peculiarities. A marketing consultant with experience across both areas will be able to deliver more comprehensive and creative solutions to marketing challenges faced by your business.
6. Does the marketing consultant have Integrated Marketing Communication experience?
The term Integrated Marketing Communication refers to the deep understanding and knowledge of all the facets of the marketing industry and how these different disciplines interact to provide the consumer with a superior brand experience.
Does the marketing consultant you are interviewing have experience across all or at least most of the marketing disciplines, and for how long? Here are some of the main areas:
Research and Product Development
Strategic Brand Positioning
Online and Social Media Marketing
Media Planning / Buying
Sales Promotions & Events
Ask for proof of their experience and examples in all of the above areas! Only marketing professionals that have had experience in most of the above areas for a period of at least 12 months per discipline can claim to understand and utilize Integrated Marketing Communications.
Why is it important, you ask?
Only an Integrated Marketing Communication approach will deliver the full benefits of marketing to your business. Integrated Marketing Communication is the “helicopter view” of your marketing situation, rather than a band-aid approach to the immediate challenges at hand.
7. Has the marketing consultant worked both on the client and advertising agency side of the marketing fence?
Marketing professionals on the client side concentrate on developing products or services to meet the needs of their target market, managing the distribution relationships and the sales process, analysis and research of buying trends etc.
Marketing professionals on the advertising agency side concentrate on the communication aspect of marketing, making sure that the right message reaches the right prospects, the right number of times. This is also generally the most expensive part of your marketing – getting your message into the hands of your prospects, before their eyes, and into their ears.
Both sets of skills are vital to achieving success for your business. Ask your prospective marketing consultant for proof and examples of their work on both sides of the marketing fence.
8. How creative is the marketing consultant that you are considering?
If a marketing consultant can’t come up with a few innovative ways of promoting your business in your first meeting, they are probably not right for you. Be aware, however, that ideas and strategies are tools of trade and marketing consultants may be hesitant to give those away for free, but they should be able to at least provide you with some constructive observations on how your business can be improved. If they can’t show you or talk you through at least a dozen creative concepts from current or past clients, you shouldn’t consider them!
9. Failure! Ask your prospective marketing consultant to give you some examples of projects that didn’t succeed or attain desired objectives and why.
Every one of us has failed in something and hopefully learned from that experience. This question can really provide you with great insight into the person’s honesty and ego, ability to overcome challenges, and learn.
10. Has the marketing consultant ever run their own business or invested in businesses other than their consulting business?
Marketing people are used to spending other people’s money with the aim of doing so in the most cost effective manner. Nothing makes one appreciate the real value of a hard earned dollar as much as spending money on marketing your own business. Marketing consultants who have simultaneously worn the hat of entrepreneur are much more likely to treat your marketing budget like they would their own – and that makes a world of difference!
11. Finally, will the marketing consultant just take your brief or will they challenge it?
Does the marketing consultant have the guts to challenge you – their potential prospect? It is an unfortunate fact that most marketing people who call themselves professionals do not have the fortitude to tell their clients and prospects the truth about their chances of success, about their briefs and about their businesses in general. At The marketing Network we promise to give you a good dose of reality. Our clients thank us for it and watch their sales increase.
As always, we love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us for a confidential and obligation free discussion about any of your marketing needs.
For years there has been a disconnect between the marketing function and the rest of the organization, especially when it comes to management understanding what in-house marketing professionals actually ‘do’.
This chasm has been widened by clever marketers looking busy, wowing senior executive teams with pretty power-point presentations and using terminology that only they understand – all in an effort to justify marketing expenditure.
To be competitive, it’s time to get real and ensure your marketing function and the marketing professionals therein deliver.
Examining the in-house marketing function and your marketing professionals’ effectiveness begins at a high level.
When considering your product development process, is your product or service in line with market requirements? Do you have current and ongoing research activity to monitor if the appearance and functionality of your product or service addresses the evolving needs of your target market? Has your Marketing Manager justified the strategic development of this product or service, such as extending or broadening a brand to meet seasonal changes or matching a competitors’ point of difference?
When considering pricing strategy, are your in-house marketing professionals setting pricing that not only meets profit objectives, but forms part of a plan that reflects your brand image and increases market share?
Additionally, is your Marketing Officer or other responsible marketing professionals ensuring your product or service is made available to your target audience through convenient and appropriate locations in a timely manner? Are they flexible in developing and adapting distribution strategy?
Good outcomes from lower tier marketing professionals who conduct more administrative tasks are easier to measure, and are reflected in attention to detail and adherence to internal management protocols.
The father of modern management, Peter Drucker once said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, it follows that measuring individual performance using Key Performance Indicators is effective as long as those KPIs are truly reflective of both the marketing functions KPIs and those that the individual has been hired for.
Too often KPIs form a laundry list of tasks that existing team members can’t or won’t fulfil and aren’t related to an individual’s core competencies or experience (such tasks could well be handled by a talented marketing or advertising agency).
For obligation free advice or a more detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the marketing professionals you have hired, we exist in a unique position knowing how to measure success for individual businesses and how to increase marketing functionality that delivers to your bottom line.
Is engagement another marketing buzzword that has a different meaning for each person and organisation?
With Social Media Marketing taking centre stage, marketers are all focused on increasing engagement through ‘content marketing and conversations’. By the way, about 10 years ago we had the same sort of buzz, except back then the buzz was around ‘loyalty’!
Here are some dictionary meanings of Engagement:
An appointment or arrangement
A pledge, an obligation or agreement
…most are not getting down on one knee and proposing a lifelong commitment with a diamond ring, not yet anyway!
But what are marketers really doing about ‘engagement’, most are not getting down on one knee and proposing a lifelong commitment with a diamond ring, not yet anyway!
Maybe it’s easier to define disengagement; like the now infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden disengaging from his employer and country, although some would argue a contrary perspective or the now ex Prime Minister Julia Gillard losing support of the general public and subsequently her party room.
Are you one of the many organizations trying to improve the effectiveness of your marketing team in house only to find the marketing professionals you have recruited are incapable of meeting their KPIs?
Are you just not sure what ‘success’ means when you find someone who you think meets your requirements?
If you ‘still haven’t found what you’re looking for’ U2 are not the only group to have sung this tune!
At best, the recruitment of marketing professionals is a challenging task for most businesses, given the lack of understanding of what they really need, and how to go about searching for it.
Common mistakes in recruiting for marketing professionals are made by business and recruitment agencies alike, the amount of time and money spent on finding and selecting the right individual is rarely proportionate to success in the outcome. Most recruiters exist to ‘sell’ you a marketing professional, yet all that glitters is not gold! They are interested in closing the sale, not the longevity and fit of a new team member. Usually recruiters of marketing professionals are neither willing nor able to ‘get their hands dirty’ and examine what your business really needs, nor do they know which language and method to use to find it. We exist in an anomalous realm where we both understand how to help you to determine what you need, and how to find it midst a sea of potential candidates.
The main issues with recruiting fall into two categories – not knowing what you need, and not knowing how to recruit.
Almost every job ad on SEEK and other recruitment sites echo organizations’ confusion regarding who they are looking for, this is reflected in a plethora of marketing job ads that contain a shopping list of ‘must haves’, which are usually impossible to find in one individual. Seeking a ‘Marketing Co-ordinator’ which is a junior role, as well as seeking a ‘Marketing Strategist’ which is a senior role – will find you someone who is either under-skilled or overqualified and increase the chance of staff turnover, wasting your time and money.
Casting a wide net and listing multiple functions in the one marketing job description, hoping to snare the one person who is out there to answer all your prayers, i.e. looking for a designer, copywriter, and search engine optimiser… will only find you someone who at BEST will be good at one of these things but great at NONE!
Combining inappropriate functions such as business development which is about sales, within a Marketing Strategist’s job description proves you don’t know what you’re talking about and provides an open invitation to those who are great at selling themselves to apply – functionality and suitability – optional.
If you’re considering traditional recruitment methods like resumes and psychometric testing – think again
These methods have been superseded by the use of convincing portfolios but mostly by projects. Firms who mean business are now asking candidates to do real time project work, either solo or in groups, otherwise known as “projeclications” or “applijects” wherein potential marketing professional candidates work on a task they could well be tackling in the future – editing a keynote presentation, for instance, or help redesign a social media campaign – the results of which are considered more indicative of a candidates real potential.
All is not lost when it comes to finding the right person to meet your requirements, avoiding these common errors is a start, however it is essential to make use of talented marketing and advertising agencies for areas of specialisation which cannot be found in one individual.
I was watching TV last night, a rare occurrence that I’m sure reflects the media diversification trends and the decreasing importance of the traditional TV spot, but I digress from the 2 ads that struck me, one positively stimulating my senses and the other making me mumble “what happened to their marketing strategy”?
Good, Better, Bosch…those were the days…
I used to love BOSCH, the German multinational that stood for quality across a range of product categories from brown goods, to car parts and even business services! I was disappointed when they dumped the brilliant positioning statement “Good. Better. Bosch” And yesterday when I saw their ad for the dish washing machine I was simply dumbfounded! Then again I was even more surprised to find that in Europe they were starting fires.
Even if I wasn’t a marketing consultant or an ad agency professional who is preoccupied with marketing strategy, I think I’d be even more offended as a consumer.
Here’s the offending commercial, albeit the version I saw was sans the Finish promotion!
Water conservation is an important concern for all of us, but an ad aimed at convincing you to use a dishwasher instead of washing by hand? Really? Seriously? How many people do you know who still wash dishes by hand? I could understand Bosh running this ad in Brazil, India, Russia, but in Australia?
Maybe I’ve got it all wrong; maybe Bosch decided that Australians were more like their English forebears where only 1 in 3 households own one and decided to take a leadership position but a quick check of the ABS Statistics going back to 1999 showed total Dishwasher penetration being around 95% of the population in Australia!
If you still don’t have a washing machine, and you are thinking of buying one wouldn’t you be comparing different types of washing machines?
So maybe that’s what the folks at Bosch were trying to achieve? Get to me emotionally?
However forming an emotional connection at its most basic, is all about helping others see you as the same as them, as someone who gets them…not someone that insults their intelligence! And let’s get real; the Bosch machine is priced at the premium end of the market, ranking at 7th and 10th spot for 2013, hence one would guess they are targeting a fairly intelligent demographic?
In contrast this ad, through it’s sheer cinematic brilliance and use of a haunting Nick Cave soundtrack made me want to visit the Barossa Valley and discover the mysteries it has to offer!
Most interestingly have a look at the number of people who viewed both ads and the number who actually engaged with it, in this case “liked it”. That’s a story in itself!