What Questions Should You Ask a Marketer?

Pretty much the only thing my clients have in common is they all run a business of 50 or fewer employees. I help people in every industry, from consulting to retail to manufacturing. Funny thing, the questions they ask me are often similar.

Here are the greatest hits:

Q: Do I need to rebrand?

A: Probably not.

Q: But lots of marketers say my brand is stale, or ill-defined, or dated, or somehow lacking. Shouldn’t I fix that?

A: Lemme ask you a question: do these marketers have money to make off your rebranding? Unless people can’t find you, or your brand no longer describes what you do, DON’T REBRAND. I could write a book on all the reasons a less-than-ideal brand is easier to promote than a new brand, but the short answer is, rebranding is expensive, it’s time-consuming, and it takes you away from the actual business of running your business.

Q: Do I need to add another social media platform? Like TikTok? What about paid ads?

A: Before adding anything, ask if you’re maximizing what you’re already doing. It’s possible that what you already have is just fine. Are your publicity platforms (social media, PR, paid ads) bringing in more money than they’re costing? If they’re not, it isn’t that you’re lacking a platform, it’s that you aren’t leveraging the ones you’re already using in a way that makes money.

Hootsuite has a great explainer on the formula that calculates return on investment. It’s R ÷ C x 100 = ROI. In other words, take your revenue, divide it by the cost of delivering the marketing (including worker hours and ad spend), and multiply that by 100. That tells you your ROI as a percentage.

Q: What should I look for in a marketing & communications person?

A: Someone who likes money.

Q: Are you for real?

A: No, seriously. There are a lot of marketing consultants who talk about mindfulness, connection and living your values. That’s great. I believe in these things too. But you can create your own mindfulness, connection, and values. If you’re hiring someone to market your business, create copy for you, their top priority as a service provider should be how their marketing and communications activities increase your top-line revenue.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a list of philosophies and values for how I act and operate as a human that have nothing to do with money.

What I do as a service provider is about creating success. Not happiness, not warm feelings. Not “social media engagement.” Success. Sales. Money. You can use that money to build your own happiness and warm feelings.

And for the love of all that is profitable, remember: social media engagement doesn’t pay the bills. If it did, influencers with 600,000 followers wouldn’t be begging for free hotel rooms.

Q: What should I ask someone I’m considering hiring for marketing?

A: Here are some questions smart people ask, or have asked me:

  • What is your strategy for marketing my business, and what tactics will support that strategy?
  • How will those strategies and tactics actually convert customers?
  • How does your fee translate into a revenue increase for me?
  • When can I expect results in terms of campaign response? When can I expect results in terms of revenue?
  • What are my responsibilities for turning marketing leads into sales?
  • Tell me an example of a tactic that did not pan out the way you hoped, and what you learned from that?

Q: What about tactics that are higher profile, like media appearances and events?

A: These can be appropriate if they fit into an overall strategy for a specific purpose. They aren’t worth sinking money into, just so you and your brand don’t have FOMO. 99 times out of 100, you’re better off putting your efforts into running your actual business. Let everyone else get out there for the sake of being seen. Spend your time on *real* connections with potential customers. No one sees you doing this. It doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be seen making connections to make money, you just need to make them. I promise.

Q: What is the best way to market and promote my business?

A: Be passionate and knowledgeable, and talk to as many people as you can about your passion and knowledge. That’s it. That is the whole secret of what I do for my clients. If you can do this on your own then you don’t need me or any other marketer.

Being authentically knowledgeable and excited and driven about what you do is the best way to make acquaintances into evangelists. Once you have an army of evangelists, you’ll never need to search for customers again.

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