So, something has started to get on my nerves! As a small business owner I am starting to get inundated on a daily basis by marketing and social media experts who claim they can take my business to the next level. What's wrong with that I hear you say? Surely I want to succeed? Who wouldn't want to be seen by millions on twitter... right?
Wrong...! You may or may not know that I am a Head of Campaign Marketing in my day job. This means I spend my days writing and implementing marketing plans, analysing results, working with designers and choosing suppliers. This isn't me blowing my own trumpet but more to give context to this blog. In my opinion many of these so called marketers are after an easy buck, and it's starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth. They take advantage of the fact that some small businesses will lap up their spin because they don't know any better. And frankly it undermines those with proper qualifications and experience.
As small business owners we have to have many strings to our bows. You might be an awesome crafter, but you also have to be an accountant, customer service manager, marketing director and admin assistant. We can't all be good at everything, and there are rarely enough hours in the day, so there is nothing wrong with turning to someone with expertise to help. It's how you choose these services that counts and that definitely shouldn't be off the back of one sales tweet! So here's a few things to watch out for.
1. Don't get blinded by numbers...
You've all seen them. Claims that a social promo company can get you a reach of millions but by law they need to be able to quantify these to be able to make the claims. So if they can't watch out! Also look out for the small print. Are the stats they are presenting daily, weekly, monthly, annually? It makes a big difference to your reach if the parameters aren't clear.
2. That goes for their follower numbers too...
It's also worth keeping in mind that many of these companies have multiple accounts. While it is nice to have retweets and there are benefits to this technique, their reach isn't neccesarily unique views because people follow more than one account, so you need to be realistic about the return you'll get. And don't forget no one can guarantee retweets so any statistics you receive where its calculated by all their followers retweeted a number of times are flawed. On both of the first two points, a good social media company will be able to explain how they get to their stats and put your mind at ease that they're genuine.
3. Bust the jargon
Any good marketing professional knows to talk to their customers and not baffle them with industry jargon. Think of it this way, if they can't explain their campaigns to you on a level you understand, then how are your customers going to understand it? They will also be comfortable talking about the marketing plans and results and will use the right terminology. For example, a "brand" is not simply your logo (it's so much more), you don't draft marketing (a common misuse of terminology but actually its a practice and you draft the activity) and my personal favourite... marketing and PR are not the same thing, PR is also not social media! I've seen that one a lot of times, they're interchangeable skills yes, but it would be like saying salad cream and mayonaise are the same thing!
4. Don't be fooled by overflated job titles
You all know someone who has to have the flash car because this makes them look like they have a certain lifestyle, well it's the same with people who award themselves over inflated job titles. I have almost 15 years experience but would never think to call myself an expert. To call yourself a professional you should probably have a qualfication and a consultant should have a wealth of experience. If you are good at what you do then you probably don't need to boast about it, word of mouth will do the job for you. So, its worth asking yourself why someone describes themselves that way... it could be too good to be true. And if it isn't they'll have the CV to prove it.
No one owns these so don't let anyone tell you they do, afterall we live in a democracy not a dictatorship. There are some great hashtags out there supported by some fab individuals and groups. Use and abuse them but ensure you mix them up, and work out what works for your business as we're all different. Most importantly monitor who is retweeting you and look after them with some recipricol support.
Now the above all been said, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying anyone who offers marketing services are on the blag. From years in the industry I have many friends who are freelance marketing professionals and really would take your business to the next level. I'm not even saying they have to have a marketing qualification as there are a lot of good self starters out there but a bit of REAL experience goes a long way. So, all I'm suggesting is if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Any marketer worth their weight in gold will be able to offer genuine references or testimonials, provide a portfolio with examples of their work and will be able to quantify their stats and claims. So, next time you're offered a reach of 100 million people don't be scared to ask the question "how?".
To conclude I'm not going to name and shame these so called marketers, nor am I going to recommend the good guys as that's not what this blog is about. I'm not here to influence you after all (and anyone who follows me will know who I associate with, and who I avoid - but that's just what work's for me and my business). But as a practicing marketing professional, who has nothing to gain as I don't work as a freelancer, I just wanted to share my tips and thoughts in the hope that if it helps one or two of you spot a chancer, and save some hard earned pennies then I can sleep easier. After all you wouldn't let a cowboy builder do work on your house, so why would you let a cowboy marketer near your business? #JustSaying