Hiring a marketing consultant or agency based on the power of a sales pitch is akin to hiring an airplane pilot based on how sharp his uniform looks. This limited amount of information provides you with little to no idea of whether this person can actually help your business soar. Unfortunately, too many small to mid-size companies hire marketing partners without first taking a close look at their credentials and pedigree.
In fact, quite a few of our current clients hired us to help them rebound from consultants who did not live up to their slick sales pitches. For example, before working with TBGA, one of our clients hired a senior marketing consultant who used his fun, personable attitude to win them over. Their entrepreneurial environment required a consultant who could establish metrics, set priorities based on ROI, push his priorities throughout the organization, and most importantly execute on the plan. He always seemed to be working hard, but in the end, it turned out that he was just spinning everyone’s wheels. There were no quantifiable results to speak of.
The consultant was in over his head. He was frustrated, the client was disappointed, and neither party walked away happy. Although we were grateful to have an opportunity to fix the resulting mess, we want you to get it right on the first try.
Pedigree is not about any experience; it is about the right experience. You need to make sure a candidate’s experience will dovetail with your unique needs. Ivy League MBAs, previous jobs at blue chip companies, firm handshakes should never be the sole reason you hire a consultant.
If you do not know exactly what you need, you should hire a consultant who can help you identify them. When looking at a partners track record, ask yourself the following questions:
At the very least, your consultant should have experience working at companies that resemble your own, carrying out tasks similar to the ones you have in store, and delivering the real-life results you want to see.
When considering a marketing partner, look for a hands-on team of collaborators that do not simply give advice from the sidelines. This should begin at the inception of your relationship by setting clear objectives and diving in to build solutions that meet those objectives.
Your partners should constantly strive to be on the cutting edge — proactively seeking new research, new technology angles, and new information. They should utilize modern-day tools and tactics that will help us deliver the results you desire.
Our roster of marketing experts is deep and diverse. We provide more than a savvy sales pitch; we provide proven marketing expertise that will help accelerate your growth. If we do not meet your objectives, it is probably because we have exceeded them. If you are searching for a partner who is a passionate, determined problem solver with a proven track record of success, contact us today for a one-hour consultation.
Entrepreneurs often overlook company culture during their first weeks in business. While many prioritize other aspects of their business, they risk sacrificing a potential differentiator and what should be the fundamental basis of their brand. A company’s culture is vital to securing a good reputation, encouraging employee loyalty, and fostering collaboration with other businesses. Whatever your other responsibilities, it’s essential to begin building a corporate culture from day one.
Identify specific values that you can easily be put into practice. Generic values like equality, innovation, and employee safety are good at the start but focus on values that relate specifically to your business. If your company provides home insulation services, for example, you have the potential to reduce your customers’ household energy use and associated pollution, so environmental sustainability will be an easy value to promote in your ordinary business practices. Likewise, if you work in software or network design, information security and privacy protection are ideal values.
For example, Trailblaze Growth Advisors ties its values to helping firms of all sizes improve their appeal and increase profitability. Our values include:
Once you’ve decided on values for your business, make sure to articulate them to employees and customers alike. Write all of your values down, incorporate them into training programs, and devote a page of your company website to them. The sooner you make your values clear, the easier it is for your employees to embody them, and the quicker your business will gain a reputation for them.
Articulating company values also gives your employees a chance to become involved in the emerging corporate culture. Encourage them to read through the values, identify omissions, and make suggestions for improvement. The more involved your employees are in this process, the more motivated they will be to promote your company culture and the better that culture will reflect your employees’ attitudes and actions.
Putting your company culture into action means giving credit to every employee who promotes that culture. Any of your employees’ actions that embody your values, however small, should be met with praise. Consider holding monthly ceremonies in which you publicly recognize employees who promoted your values and reward them with raises or prizes. Keep permanent records of these achievements on your website or on plaques. You must also negatively sanction employees who fail to live up to your values, giving them an ultimatum to comply. One unfaithful employee can give the whole company a bad reputation.
As the leadership team, you must embody your company’s values in all areas of your life, and not just at work. If one of your values is sustainability, for example, consider insulating your home, installing solar panels, and biking to work. The more commitment you show to your culture, the more it will be taken seriously.
As your business grows, attracts new customers, and responds to changes in technology, your company’s culture will have to adapt. Encourage your employees to discuss your values and find new ways of promoting them in the changing market. Your company will change, but as long as it remains committed to its core values, it can continue to garner respect among employees, customers, and the business community.
Don’t overlook something as crucial as culture. Check out our sources to learn more about founding a company on strong values.
Is a marketing team different than any other workgroup? Sort of.
Marketing is one of those disciplines that can look easier than it is. Those who are great at it are constantly updating their tactics to stay fresh and continually grab attention. They stay on top of breaking news; customer feedback; new technologies and media; and the vast amount of first-, second- and third-party data. The best marketers then consolidate all the ingredients into integrated, immersive programs to achieve the company’s goals.
Because marketing teams do not produce traditional widgets, a truly great marketing team will be extremely diverse. Ideally, marketing teams leverage data to come up with concepts that deliver results — revenue, users, subscribers, customer experience and more. They use words and visuals in select mediums to encourage desired actions. This requires that the team have strengths in analytics, creative design, content development, project management, marketing communications, product development and cross-functional leadership. The one skill that cut across all functions is creativity. (Yes, data scientists and project managers are just as creative as designers and writers.)
Managing such a diverse team can be a challenge, but surprisingly, it is not too different than managing other groups of people. According to R. Keith Sawyer, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, anyone can learn to be creative, and good creativity is further stimulated by working with other people. But for businesses trying to create a dynamic, productive atmosphere for their creative teams, here’s how to start:
Overall, optimizing a marketing team’s performance can be tricky. Good managers can find a way to do so, such as how people rank individually and collectively on department goals. Better managers will find ways to not only quantify everyone’s efforts but foster a dynamic culture — it’s going to take time and buy-in, but the results can create a solid, efficient team.