When you go to the doctor – especially if you have mysterious symptoms – you want assurance your doctor has a great deal of experience, stays up on the latest medical information, and has access to specialists who are very good at what they do.
Marketing can be like that. You might work for a company that has some unique challenges in this agricultural economy. Perhaps you are looking for a marketing partner because your product is complicated, or expensive, or innovative. You’re not going to want someone just out of med school for this kind of operation. Nor will you want a marketer pushing the same prescription that they recommend for every other potential client.
You need experience. Check out the LinkedIn profiles of the people at the companies you’re considering. Look at their web site and see if you can get a feel for their experience. Is it the kind of experience that you feel will work best for the challenge in front of you? Have they worked through your kind of challenge before? Ask other experienced people in your industry for recommendations.
You need someone who will listen and ask questions. And you should bring your questions as well, to understand how the potential marketing partner works. How do they know about your market, or how do they learn more about it? How have they measured success for their other clients? If you sign on, who will you work with?
If you’ve ever changed doctors, you know that it’s a big decision that involves forethought about what it is you really want from the relationship. A friend’s mother recently felt the need to change doctors after dealing with a serious illness and not feeling like her doctor had enough expertise or was doing all that he could on her case. My friend went online to a neighborhood group to get recommendations from people who have already been down this road with their parents. She asked for names of doctors who performed well with older people. She got a list of doctors from these peers and then went online looking for videos and third party ratings of the doctors. Then she viewed this information with her parents and they made an appointment. Using peer recommendations, she was able to short circuit the process of finding a better doctor. Now her mom is so pleased and feeling healthier for the better attention.
When people are generally healthy, they may not care as much about having the best doctor. They’re just looking for someone who has an open slot in their appointment book. When it comes to a marketing partner in this economy, however, you should be looking for more than someone who is simply available to do the work.
Believe me, you’ll feel better if you do.