Business Insights

Business Insights

5 BIG Questions To Avoid A Marketing Charlatan

If you’ve been burnt by marketers in the past, as many of you doubtless have, it can be tempting to let that past experience cloud your view for the future. This is why many hold an unshakeable view that all marketers are charlatans.

This simply isn’t true. Only some of them are.

Here’s the other thing, if you have been burnt in the past, you have to shoulder some of the blame yourself. Not easy to take of course, but true. Sorry. Marketing is not an silver bullet nor a magic wand, and planning and implementing a coherent and successful marketing strategy is not just a case of getting in ‘a marketing person’. It’s about getting the right marketing person.

Of course you met them face to face, of course they seemed switched on and confident they could do the job; they’re marketers. But did you really properly vet them? Did you ask the right questions? If not, you got the marketer you deserved.

Here are our top 5 questions for weeding out the charlatans.

What are your credentials?”

Let's start with the obvious one. Anyone can start a marketing company, but as your prospective marketer, do they really have a handle on marketing? Not without some qualifications to show for it. The Chartered Institute of Marketing is a good name to look for.

On top of the credentials, a good marketer should have a strong track record, with experience in successful businesses. Ask for a portfolio, ask for hard evidence of success, ask for evidence of return on investment.

What are your processes?”

So your marketer has given you a plan, a grand strategy. What processes do they have in place to make sure they can fulfil it?

A marketer's process should be transparent so you can dive into the details. A plan should look both short and long term, working towards a definitive goal or goals, which can be valued and monitored with monitored metrics and KPIs.

Watch mech

Like clockwork: A marketing plan should be cohesive and clear

The process should incorporate all of the strategic and operational aspects of a marketing campaign, from establishing your brand to generating leads and retaining customers. It should be thorough, accounting for communication options, implementation and reporting.

Ask about contracts. How long are you tied in for? How much would it be to cancel this contract? What are your rights?

Above all, you should be able to know exactly what they'll be up to while they're working with you.

***To find out about our processes, and get a free marketing health check, give our Marketing 360 tool a go.***

Do you have experience with clients like me?”

It's important to know that your marketer has experience not only with businesses in your industry, but also with businesses of a similar size.

For instance, a corporate marketing manager will have a very different mindset to somebody who specialises in small to medium enterprises. Work with a larger corporate may make for an impressive CV, but the marketing skills needed to accelerate the growth of a smaller business are simply not in their repertoire. The marketing director you want will be the most suited to your specific context.

Who are you affiliated with?”

Often so-called marketing directors have links with larger agencies, essentially acting as a front for a larger organisation. Again, this is a transparency issue. Affiliates should be clear and credible, and with companies you can investigate with ease. If someone is hiding an affiliation, you have to ask why.

What will you charge me for?”

Make sure you have a marketer break down their exact pricing well in advance. Less reputable marketing companies will offer a quote and then complete a job riddled with extra costs for the little things, such as tweaks to websites or press releases.

To prevent costs from mounting, look for a marketer who can offer a day rate that encompasses all of the work that they do. That way, you know exactly what you're getting into.

There are plenty of snake oil merchants out there in the world of marketing. But it's easy to avoid them by asking the right questions.

Looking for a Marketing Director who can answer these questions? Come and meet our team.



Written by Clare Methven

Clare Methven is the Co-Founder of The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. She has over 25 years’ experience working in PR and marketing agencies focussed on construction, financial services and travel companies.

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