Marketing yes men and women abound. Place your order, and they fill it. The problem: You need a real marketing strategy, not individual menu items.
Are You Hiring Order Takers?
I have to say that 2020 was one heart-wrenching year in more ways than one. From the business side of the equation, several of my clients closed their doors, two of my clients went bankrupt, and at least a dozen friends shut down their companies. PPP grants, EIDLs, and unemployment payments came in for some but not for others. It has been a rough, rocky road for small business owners and employees.
During that year, all of my in-person brand strategy workshops and persuasive writing courses were cancelled. Instead of boarding a plane each week, I gained an unexpected opportunity. I did the following:
- Set more than 70 small businesses on an intentional marketing path that made way more sense than the go-nowhere DIY path they had been on.
- Showed 20 small businesses how to nail down their marketing goals and build in-house teams that would serve them better than the revolving door of freelancers they had been hiring.
- Guided 12 other companies, whose owners reached out for guidance because their current agency hadn’t moved the needle in ages (or ever), and they were tired of paying through the nose for random acts of marketing.
More than 50 other small businesses reached out to me but chose to work with someone else who better fit their budget or who was more eager to fill their order. They wanted marketing yes men (or, in this case, a marketing yes woman). They sought an order taker, making them the de facto marketing strategist and whomever they hired the person who would dutifully do whatever they were tasked to do.
And therein lies the problem.
Marketing Yes Men and Women Abound
Almost all of the entrepreneurs and company leaders who reached out to me initially tried to hire me to perform one or more specific tasks. Here’s a sampling of the requests I got:
- I need help getting my social pages up and running.
- I need to run ads so I can get more site visitors and close more business.
- I need someone to knock out some content for the new Wix website I built over the weekend.
- I need someone to review the content I myself wrote and just clean it up a bit.
First thing’s first. I would review the business’ website with the business owner or company rep. It almost always looked as if their cousin Timmy had designed and built it. I’d start at the top and work my way down the home page and, lost, ask them what they do, who they do it for, and what value they provide. In response, I would get a 10-minute stream of consciousness recitation of relevant, albeit hard to follow, information that appeared nowhere on their website.
As it turns out, many small businesses hire marketing agencies and freelancers and supposed “experts” who need to be told what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done. The entrepreneurs and business owners can’t (or won’t) cede control, and the marketing resources they hire are happy to fulfill most any request:
- You have 100 Facebook business page followers and no on-page SEO, and you want us to run expensive Facebook ads to promote your webinar? Sure thing.
- You want to build your site in Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace vs. WordPress, and you don’t care about on-page SEO? Right on.
- You want content for your site (any content will do), and you think clear articulation of your brand identity is marketing BS? High five.
Why Are So Many Marketing Yes Men (and Women) Taking Orders?
Fiverr, Upwork, Verblio, and loads of other industry players have thousands upon thousands of “experts” waiting to take your order. Combo meal? Chocolate shake? Extra dipping sauce? You want fries with that?
The marketing field is filled with smart people who will do any work in exchange for your cold, hard cash. It’s also filled with posers and sorcerers, and lots of businesses can’t tell the difference between the real deal and someone bandying about industry terminology wrapped around big promises that won’t ever come true.
Am I describing every single person in the marketing field? I am not. Am I describing the majority of people pitching themselves as marketing experts, SEO experts, copywriting experts, and design experts? Yes, I am. That sound? That’s me throwing down the gauntlet.
The real experts don’t just do what you want them to do. They take pride in their work, and they aim high. They’re not satisfied unless they have set their clients and themselves up for success.
You? You’re all, holy Hamburglar, I’m craving Texas barbecue, so I’ll guess get the McRib. Cousin Timmy says it’s awesome, so it’s probably awesome, right?
For the record, the McRib contains 520 calories, 28 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 46 grams of carbs, 75 grams of cholesterol, and 890 milligrams of sodium. It’s a preservative-laden dumpster fire on a bun.
The real experts recognize a bad order (a McRib) when they see (or, in this case, taste) one. They’ll advise you to save your cash for a more worthwhile investment, one they’ll map out for you. Said another way, they won’t just give you the McRib or the McLobster or those weird, microwaved hotcakes because that’s what you think you should order.
Know What You Don’t Know
I have a tax accountant, a financial advisor, and a real estate agent. While I articulate my goals and weigh in heavily on the tax, finance, and real estate decisions that affect me, I don’t tell these professionals what to do and how to do it. I chose them wisely and precisely because they know more than I know. They make my life easier and give me back time and peace of mind. They also help me raise my game.
I know what I don’t know.
As an entrepreneur or company leader, you’re wearing 14 hats, at least 11 of them ill-fitting. Give yourself a break by hiring time-saving, stress-reducing marketing resources with great intention. If your marketing agency, team, or freelancer has no opinion or if their opinion seems based on inchoate thoughts floating around their head, ditch them.
Marketing yes men and women will let you order the McRib, and they’ll smile and nod as they charge you for the “privilege.” You can have far better things on your plate. You do not have any more time for smoke, mirrors, and nonsense.
Fast Wins + Zero Fluff = Game Changer
My aim is to help small businesses and teams keep from making common (and costly) marketing mistakes and get out of their “random acts of marketing” rut.
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