Here's the thing about Digital Marketing, New Media and Social Media: if you're only in it for yourself, not much great stuff can happen.
On a personal note, I've been hearing a lot of backchannel comments about people questioning why I do what I do and my motives behind it (be it the Blog, speaking, writing a book, newspaper columns, etcâ€¦). While it's nice that all of this work helps to build both my company (Twist Image) and my own personal brand, the real truth is that if we're not all learning, sharing and growing, there simply won't be much of an industry. The problem is that Digital Marketing and Social Media are both still, relatively, new. Most brands are uneducated and it's easy for the charlatans (the self-anointed gurus, experts and wizards) to sell a bill of goods that they can't deliver on.
There is a way to quickly identify if a Digital Marketing agency is legitimate.
The ultimate question to ask them is this:
"If you were me, what would you do with the marketing budget?"
If the answer back is, "shift everything you're doing to digital because the traditional channels and mass media are dead," that agency or consultant is probably not right for you. Many New Media and Digital Marketing shops think that everything begins and ends online. The truth is that it might, it might not or it might be a mixture of the two. A real Digital Marketing shop will take the time to better understand what you're doing, what's working, what is not working and how these digital platforms can either help you be more efficient and effective, or how they can add value to what is already working. I've said it before, I'll say it again:
Everything starts with the overall goals of the business and the strategy you pull out of it.
Everything is "with" not "instead of."
The other sign that your consultant or agency is more snake oil salesperson than anything else revolves around "horses." Do they actually have the skills and capacity to deliver a sound strategy deck that includes a technical and resource analysis of how the work is going to get done, how much it will cost and how long it will take? Do they actually have the horses to deliver on that project? There is way too much hyperbole online. "Consultants" pointing fingers and using metrics like how many people are following them on Twitter, or how many comments they get on their Blog as an indicator of how successful they can be for their clients.
It's a myth, but companies and brands are falling for it.
Just because an individual or company can grow their own personal community, it does not mean they have the skills, capabilities, resources and experience to create, engage and optimize a program for someone else. The two are mutually exclusive. As the industry grows and matures it will be increasingly easier to sort the wheat from the chaff, but until that time comes, be leery of those who do not have the infrastructure and experience to deliver on what is a pretty rudimentary first step to get your brand growing.
What are some of the other questions you should ask of your Digital Marketing partner?