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There is a good chance your marketing is all wrong or the guy you pay is doing it all wrong.

I read an article 4 Signs You’ve Hired the Wrong Marketer (And How to Avoid It) by Fab Capodscasa at Hoosh Marketing that was interesting and spot on.

One very specific thing stood out to me as ridiculously important.

Fab writes:

Too conservative

A marketer who is too conservative will not be able to cope with the speed that modern marketing requires.

New strategies such as inbound, social and agile marketing require risk-taking, as it will often be the first time the company tries these. A marketer that is too risk-adverse will slow or stop the adoption of the latest and most effective strategies.

Interview questions:

  • Do you blog? Do you publish any content? If not, what would you blog about if you had time?
  • Give me examples of risks you took in your marketing? How did you mitigate those risks?
  • Tell me about your biggest marketing failures?

The goal of these questions is to ascertain the risk profile of the marketer. You want a risk taker, or your marketing will be stuck in the dark ages.

Blogging is just the ante to be on the internet at this point. If your website is not putting out regular content, and distributing it to an audience of people who pay attention to it, then your business is on life support at best, and dead on arrival at worst.

Failures are inherent with anything, but the more you try new things, the more failure you will experience. What’s more important than failing is how you contain those failures, and how you deal with those failures.

What interests me most is his Question about risk.

Give me examples of risks you took in your marketing? How did you mitigate those risks?

My answer: I take risks on every single project. Every. Single. One.

Good digital marketing is inherently risky because it’s based on unique strategies to solve problems.

I got to know you, and I employed experience and intuition to attempt to solve your problem. Risky because I’ve gone out on a limb to provide something unique. It might not work.

I’ve worked with a lot of clients who have hired bad marketing firms in the past. Their approach to tackle the customers’ problems have been very cookie cutter.

Cookie cutter is very safe, because if it doesn’t work you can resort to “This is just how it’s done.”.

This is ridiculously common in the agency world. It’s precisely why we don’t call NorthIQ an agency because cookie cutter isn’t how we operate.

Most agencies employ this strategy because it’s the only way to scale up. The McDonald’s approach is the fastest way to generate dollars as quick as possible with as little effort as possible.

Every business is different however.

A good digital marketer will take into account the very specific needs of their customer. Each and every time, on each and every project.

That’s risky. “I built something I really think will work for you, but it also might not.”

NorthIQ initially poses questions to our customers that provide the basis for understanding their REAL needs.

  • Can you tell me in detail about your products/services.
  • What does your customer profile or persona look like?
  • How is your sales team structured, staffed etc?
  • What are the back end systems you use, CRM, marketing automation, emailing software?
  • What kind of assets do you currently have that we can leverage, like an existing database?
  • How do you currently route leads?
  • What reporting or measurement tools do you have in place, if any?
  • How would you describe your organizations internal marketing maturity?

A good marketer will put all that together combined with experience and intuition to form a unique solution that will hopefully tightly solve their problem.

Risky. A good digital marketer has put their credibility on the line to help you.

The easy answer might have been to just vomit out some Adwords campaign. To hold themselves accountable, for example, to generating VERY top of funnel results like clicks and likes.

That’s safe, and bad. A bad marketer held themselves accountable for easy results that aren’t business drivers.

A good marketer has put their credibility on the line, especially when they become a partner in the success of their customer.

How Do I Find Good Digital Marketers who are Risk Takers?

Fab’s article Signs You’ve Hired the Wrong Marketer (And How to Avoid It) is spot-on if you’re hiring an internal candidate.

If you’re hiring an agency or external support you should be on the lookout for potential red flags.

Did they quickly jump to solutions in the form of services they offer once they heard what you needed?

If they happily promote their services and match that to your needs it can mean they will not deliver something unique to your problem. A plan around SEO for example may be a part of the plan, it’s certainly not the solution.

Do they advertise their many design awards?

Happily promoting their many design awards show they really really (REALLY!!!) care most about design. This is a potential red flag because it may mean they are an ad agency disguised as a digital agency. You’ll end up with a lovely new website that generates no business.

When you talk to them do they ask some of those probing questions about your business?

If they are not at any point in the process asking a series of detailed questions about your company it shows they are not thinking how they can potentially provide the right solution for you. Above all else, this is a huge red flag.

Do they talk about their successes in fluff metrics like Followers, Like, Views, Visits?

Those metrics are often quoted because they are easy to obtain. They are not an indication that anything they did actually drove business.

Do they have hundreds of customers?

This can be a red flag because you may not get the individual attention you actually do need (hint: the size of your organization shouldn’t factor into the equation of how much effort they put into you).

Good marketing that solves business problems is difficult and risky because it puts your credibility on the line. Finding those good marketers that can actually help you is definitely worth the effort to find.

Risk has its rewards, but it’s dangerous if unchecked.

I take risks, but I make small bets.  When I try something new, I figure out how to hit a large, but segregated audience, I monitor the results carefully and make incredibly fast decisions based on the behavior that I see.  For the first day or two of a new campaign, I will monitor and make many small tweaks. I’ll review those tweaks, and revise them.

Once I see the results I’m looking for, I apply those changes to the entire project and it’s ready to go.

Craig Oliphant is a marketing expert with over a decade of experience in digital marketing. He has built online campaigns for multi-million dollar companies, and seen massive returns from very small investments. He has figured out ways to achieve repeatable results.