I own a brand and marketing firm, but that doesn’t mean that I think every potential client is a good fit. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs looking at building a personal brand and Fortune 500 companies needing a comprehensive content marketing strategy.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my diverse client base, it’s that every company is unique in what it wants (and needs) from its branding and marketing partner. But how do you know which one is right one for you? Below are a few questions to help you sift through and sort out the answer.
Q. How well does their company culture fit with yours?
It’s easy to think you need only look at a firm’s competencies to determine if they are a good match. But in truth the culture of the marketing firm you are thinking of hiring will impact their work with you. When it comes down to it, a good style fit is an essential part of a working partnership.
Q. Who will do the actual work?
One of the things I’ve observed as branding and marketing has become “hot” is that many firms need to staff up quickly to accommodate the increase in requests. Too often their solution is to hire interns, junior staff, and other significantly less experienced people. While a lack of experience doesn’t negate talent, you want to be clear on who exactly will be working on your account, and what their level of proficiency is.
Q. What are the firm’s core competencies?
As is the case with any type of consultancy, there are generalists, specialists and hyper-specialists. Matching up the expertise, experience, and talent of a brand marketing firm to your unique needs takes some research.
On the surface many firms seem to offer the same services, but a deeper look often reveals subtle distinctions that can mean the difference between success and failure. For example: One of my areas of specialty is building a personal brand.
While this might seem like just a version of building a business brand — it’s not. The dynamics, strategy and even client coaching required can be significantly different.
Q. Are they credible?
The upside of the Internet is that it allows some seriously good small players to be found. The downside? Anyone can hang out a shingle and claim whatever they want.
Watercooler talk is ripe with stories about digital marketing, PR, branding and website agencies who didn’t deliver what they promised. Many firms do a good job, but given the times, hiring a brand marketing firm requires a healthy dose of due diligence.
If you’re considering hiring a firm to shore up your business brand, or for help in building a personal brand, remember this: Failing to make the time to do this right from the start almost certainly guarantees you will have to make the time to do it over. Choose wisely, and you can embark on the journey with confidence that your badass brand is in good hands.