It is important to know who you hire to do your small business marketing, because their actions and work reflects on the image of your brand and your company. When an outside marketer makes a mistake, your audience will still see your brand and not theirs.

Last week after leaving a meeting at my Telsec office, I encountered a poster stapled to a tree outside the liquor store a block away from my office. I could not believe that someone would actually put a poster on a tree in this day and age of being environmentally friendly. Nothing can ruin a company’s reputation faster than being seen as not being environmentally conscientious.

I decided that I wanted to let my friends know what bad marketing is and to expose the company on my person social media accounts, not as the writer of this blog. I posted a photo of it and one of my friends contacted the arts organization the sign was made for. My friend got a quick personal response from the company that very day. It turns out that they had hired an outside marketing company to distribute their flyers, but they had no idea that they would do posting them like they did. The arts organization thanked my friend and dispatched someone to take care of it. Because they dealt with the issue quickly, I removed my personal social media post.

One of my other friends (who did see my follow-up posting about hiring outside marketing companies) sent me a message and a story about something his company encountered with an outside marketer, so I was inspired to write this blog. My friend gave me some great advice that I felt I should share with the followers of this blog.

When you hire an outside contractor for your small business, you look into who they are and their results. But do you look into their methods of achieving those results on your behalf – and what effect the methods will have on your company? You should! Far too often companies have to deal with the consequences of dealing with sub contractors, but not so much as when a mistake is made by an outside marketing company. Remember, your customers or future clients do not know that the marketing mistake was made by someone else; they will just see it as your mistake.

If your company has a code of ethics when it comes to marketing your products or services, share it with the outside marketing company first, before signing a contract. Ask them questions about how they will market and represent you, get specifics so their are no surprises down the road. Hearing the words “trust us, we have been successful in marketing similar products” is not what you want to hear.

It might be tempting to hire a company that is offering the best price, but will they deliver the best service your business wants and needs? Yes, value for your marketing dollar is important, but if it is not effective, there is no value. A professional marketing company may not be the cheapest, but they will not require you to “micro-manage” the work they are doing for you. Get a written contract with assurances that they will follow your instructions. This will guarantee that the outside marketing company knows you mean business. Convey to them that they are not just working on this one job, but the overall reputation of your company is in their hands.

A number of years ago, we heard a story about an office-for-rent business centre that hired an outside marketing company to promote its virtual office services and boardrooms, meeting rooms and seminar/training rooms for rent. The problem was that the business centre was not clear enough about their target market and the types of businesses they wanted as customers. The outside marketing company distributed the marketing materials to a great number of larger businesses that would not require their services, as well as companies that already had their own seminar and training rooms. Basically, the cost of the marketing effort far outweighed the benefits derived.