I have heard a great analogy for what separates a good marketer from a great marketing team. It was so simple: A good marketer is a spoon, a singular piece, while a great marketing team is a Swiss Army Knife – A combination tool working together. I love this visual, as it resonates with the customers we want to work with at Unison Measurable Marketing.

With marketing being so multi-pronged these days, it’s hard to know where you should start and what you should be considering for your business. This is equally true when you’ve decided to work with someone for your marketing efforts.

Like many business owners, you may have been scorned by snake-oil salespeople who have promised you the marketing moon. Let’s review some things to keep in mind when you’re talking to a marketing professional:

How Are You Wanting to Work?

There are a number of options to consider:

  1. In-house staff
  2. Supplemental work from an external source – Offload the workload of an internal staff so they can focus on what they excel at
  3. External support – Your business may not be large enough to sustain a full-time employee

Each of these has their merits and disadvantages. What do you value the most from your marketing efforts? Time, efficiency or results?


Every industry has jargon, so it’s not surprising that it will come up in conversation with a marketing professional. SEO, metrics, analytics and KPI’s are all terms that may be heard throughout a conversation. A warning flag is when the marketing person cannot explain or convert these terms into language that translates to your company, or how “these words” will impact your efforts positively.

Over-selling Value

Many marketers have a core strength, and that’s not a bad thing. However, overselling the advantage of their own service over any other is, again, a warning sign. We see this all the time in online marketing.

For example: A website developer may craft a beautiful website that is, indeed, SEO-friendly from the way the pages and navigation are structured. However, they are overselling the value of a website if they are not talking ongoing SEO, content strategies and advantages of Content Marketing. That said, if the web developer does not have a strength in that area, make sure you understand that a website does not a marketing strategy make on its own. Content Marketing, aka SEO, Social Media, Inbound Marketing, landing pages, blogging, etc., are all areas that must be considered following a website launch.

Over-selling Capability

Another thing to be wary of is someone who promises to be a jack-of-all-trades. Similar to an in-house staff, a jack-of-all-trades person can only really be competent in a few areas – Not all of them. This means the time to accomplish certain tasks could take anywhere from two to ten times longer than a focused professional.

If someone says, “We can do it all”, make sure that they have a seasoned team with members who each have skills that are core competencies.  This will ensure that both skill and time are kept in check compared to cost.


If someone you’re talking to does nothing but talk tactically, does not ask how this works within your existing marketing strategy, or doesn’t ask how you plan, or want to measure their results- Run! They are not thinking large enough picture.

On the flip side, if you ask for ROI on their efforts – Be prepared for some work on your end, too! You need to have procedures and/or systems in place to measure. Otherwise, you’re judging execution improperly. It’s like asking a Sales Manager to do reporting or forecasting without a CRM.

Cost VS Value

When it all comes down to it, the above can help you establish the question of value and cost.

Value does not always equate cheap. A very important distinction!

Do you value having someone in your business 160hrs a month, competent at one or two areas, while tasking them to five? If so, then your value for your marketing effort is less focused on results, and more on having someone sitting in your office every day. Your cost can go up as the staff member is spending a lot of time learning on the job, plus, overhead costs of benefits, equipment, etc.

Or do you value efficiency of results? True, supplementing a fully-outsourced set of resources may save time and could have similar costs to an employee, however, the efficiency of strategy and delivery will save you in training, time and overhead costs associated an internal staff member.

As mentioned at the beginning of this entry, marketers can either be a piece of cutlery with a specific purpose, or a full Swiss Army Knife. Which is more beneficial to your organization?