All my life, I have encountered business owners who suffered bad experiences with “marketing people”. Some would lump marketing people into the stereotypical lot of “dishonest” professionals such as auto repair mechanics, lawyers and IT professionals. All by the way, have had the misfortune of being misrepresented by a few very noticeable, sour and rotten apples. But just like you can find plenty of good, honest lawyers, auto repair mechanics and IT professionals, there are many good marketing people out there, too.
A former mentor once told me that entering into a business relationship is a lot like entering into a marriage. If you already have a bad feeling and it’s only the second date, it’s time to become “just friends.”
So what are some things you can look for in the beginning of the relationship that indicate a good, or bad, future lies ahead?
Do they tell you the truth – appropriately? You may not want to tell a guy his hair cut is bad on a first date, but you certainly need to alert him if his driving makes you fearful for you and everyone else on the road. A marketing person that is genuinely concerned for your well-being and the success of your company will tell you immediately of those things that can actually hurt your brand, and ease gradually into those things that could be/should be done better as the relationship grows.
Do they listen closely to understand the real problem? Have you ever tried to talk about a bad day with your significant, only to be given solutions and advice before they have really taken the time to understand the real problem?
“Sometimes when I’m thirsty, I don’t want you to get me a glass of water. I want you to tell me you know what it’s like to be thirsty.” ~ Gloria, White Men Can’t Jump, 1992
A good marketing partner will always listen, intently, and ask many questions before offering a solution.
Are they genuinely interested in your business? The worst first dates are those where the other person spends all of their time promoting themselves, without ever really indicating any real interest in you. They don’t ask about what you want, what you like or what you do. It’s the same with your business. If a marketing person is there to sell you their product without asking questions to determine if and how the product will help your business, they really care about themselves.
Do they keep you falling in love after they already have you? We’ve all been guilty of complacency in relationships. We stop doing the little things that got them interested, and we let our bad habits show through. If your marketing person stops working to impress you the minute the contract is signed, you deserve someone better.
It’s time to let the wounds heal and start to trust again. A good marketing person – a marketing partner – can be a true asset to you and your company. Judge wisely, and give love a chance.