Making an Investment: Tips for Vetting Strategic Marketing Companies

We like to think we have it together and can do it all, but we know that it’s not true. A lot of the times we feel like we are being pulled in 6 different directions. Sometimes this is not far from the truth.

Organizations can spread employees thin on multiple projects in order to save costs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about saving money where you can, but spreading your most valuable resource (yourself and your employees) too thin can be counter productive.

In the workplace, when things get busy some “non-essential” projects get pushed to the back burner. When this happens, marketing is one of the areas that tends to go by the wayside. If you are looking for success and growth, ignoring to set good marketing practices can hurt you in the long run. Marketing is an ongoing project that needs continuous monitoring and evaluation. It is not a one-time thing; it’s an investment. You may think its more cost effective to figure this all out in-house, however, if you don’t have the human capital to concentrate on this, you may want to look for help from a professional marketing group. To make sure you get the best bang for your buck with said investment, here are several tips for vetting a strategic marketing company.

How’s the Fit?

When you start looking into different marketing agencies, one of the first things you need to explore is how well they will fit with your company and its needs. They will be representing your organization; are they capable of echoing your voice and values? Also will their communication styles jive with yours? If your group values face time, you don’t want to work with a strategic marketing company that relies heavily on email communication.


Though you are outsourcing your marketing management, you may not be outsourcing your graphic and web design projects. Or maybe you already have other vendors taking care of those needs. When interviewing potential agencies, discuss how they will collaborate with other groups in the creative process. If they are not willing or will have issues working with the platforms that have already been established, it’s best to know before signing a contract.


This should probably go without saying, but you want to make sure that the group you choose is professional and educated in marketing skills. You’d like to think anyone who presents themselves as “marketer” is professional and competent, but sadly that’s not always the truth. Before even picking up the phone, do some research, look at their portfolio work, do they list education backgrounds? How long have they been established? Remember you are making an investment; do some leg work first.

Know your Aim

Are you looking for more content marketing management, digital, or both? Be sure you know what your goals are before starting the vetting process or you may end up wasting time vetting marketing companies that can’t provide what you are looking for. Once you have decided, be sure to ask goal-driving questions. Just because a group says they do digital and/or content management, doesn’t mean they do it well. Find out what their strengths are and if they fit your specific needs.


Think of this process as you would hiring a new employee. You wouldn’t just hire someone off the street no questions asked, right? Ask for client references and a list of past portfolio work.

Marketing is essential to helping a business grow especially in the digital age. Consumers and potential clients are looking for a brand with a story. Relying on word of mouth can only go so far. Remember marketing is a long term investment for long term rewards. When choosing a marketing strategy and a potential outside company, keep this all in perspective.

Generation Z: The Next Big Thing

When you hear the terms “Baby Boomer” or “Millennial” certain attributes come to mind. But, what about when you hear “Generation Z”? Most people would be looking at me like my dogs do when I ask them if they want a treat; head cocked to the side with a questioning expression. Generation Z, the iGeneration, or Homeland Generation as they are often referred to, are the next “up and coming” generation for employers, marketers, and retailers to be focusing on. As the generational cohort after the Millennials, this group is just starting to enter the workforce and flex their buying power. Let take a look at what makes the iGeneration tick.

Defining the Group

  • Follow Millennials in the generational time line born roughly around 1995-2010iGeneration
  • Ages range from  5 to 20 years old currently
  • Digital natives; can’t remember a time before the internet or social media
  • Too young to remember 9/11 or were not born yet
  • “Right now” culture
  • Practical

How are they Different from Millennials?

  • Prefer apps like Snapchat, Vine, and Whisper
  • Rarely use email for personal use
  • Virtual community just as important as their physical community
  • Have learned from Millennial’s social media mistakes

So how does this translate into the real world?

Let’s synthesize this information and paint a picture of how a stereotypical Generation Z’er acts. The iGeneration are the toddlers who knew how to work an iPhone better than their parents. Many are now getting ready to graduate high school or have just entered college or the workforce. The younger end of the spectrum is watching the “For Kids” sections on Netflix and have their own account log in. They live life on multiple screens and are experts at multitasking, surfing the net, texting, and watching YouTube at the same time. They watch a lot of shows but not on cable. They prefer streaming services. They post Snapchat videos that will “disappear” rather than tagging photos on Facebook for longer periods. Growing up in a post-9/11 culture and watching their parents work through the recession has given them a more practical view for their future plans. Many want to be an entrepreneur and make their hobby into a career. Though they are tech oriented they have very short attention spans. A marketer better be able to get the big pictures across in 5 seconds or less, otherwise this group has already moved on. They also rarely use email, and are probably part of the reason marketers have moved to texting deals to consumers rather than waste time on mass email blasts.

I see a lot of these qualities in my younger brother. The seven years between us put me in the Millennial group (I was born in 1989) and my brother is just on the cusp. Being born in 1996 is technically he is considered part of Generation Z. My brother has a Facebook but rarely uses it, instead he “Snaps” everything. Since I don’t have a Snapchat I just get screen shots of his antics texted to me. He is in his sophomore year in college. He was a toddler when 9/11 occurred and remembers little from that day (I can remember the exact outfit I was wearing), and both of our lives have been shaped by what happened that day. Currently my brother is pursuing a degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management; working to make his “hobby” (though I’d call it more of a passion) of being a volunteer firefighter and EMT a career. 

Take Aways

  • New group just starting to influence the market with their buying power with more to join them in the coming years
  • Do not lump them in with Millennials
  • Get to the point and fast
  • Forget Facebook and email
  • Make practical appeals

Do you have any other thoughts about Generation Z? How are they different from your generation?

Steps to Better Marketing Team Building

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships” is a quote famously given by the legend, Michael Jordan. A lot of people get confused when it comes to the topic of talent. Most think it’s all they need to succeed. In some cases, such as professional basketball, it’s a huge part. Some people are born with natural abilities that make up their talent; there’s definitely a big difference between an individual who is 6’8” and someone who is 5’4” when trying out for a basketball team. Who do you think is more likely to be the first round pick? I’ll admit, there is some flaw to that analogy. Work ethic, hustle, and mental capacity make up the difference whether it’s in the NBA or in your marketing department.


When building or refining your marketing team, it’s really all about filling in the gaps between talent, brains, and hustle. Which brings us to our first step in building the ultimate marketing team.

Step 1. Identify the gaps.

Let’s do a little audit with your current marketing team. Divide your employees into categories. The creative, the strategist, the analysts, and so on. Now identify the gaps. What are gaps exactly? Gaps are when your marketing team is missing or doesn’t have the right skill set to keep the cogs turning.

This inevitably means you need to grow your team and you’ve reached that “oh crap” phase.

The good news is that you’ve caught your dilemma and you’re taking the initiative to fix it. So good for you! You’ve now realized that there are blocks in your team that are preventing you from achieving your goals. Your talent gaps have led to performance gaps. The bad news is that performance gaps act as ceilings on your results.

What you shouldn’t do is go and hire 10 new people to fill these gaps. Schedule evaluations with your current team members to identify what’s working for them, what their passions are, and what you actually need. You’ll be surprised when you find that hidden pool of talent within your current team hasn’t surfaced until this point. Sometimes all it takes is being personal with your employees and showing them that your interest is to cultivate their passion.

Step 2. Be realistic.

If you had unlimited resources, you would create the perfect team in no time. The cost of the team would be unimportant. What you need to focus on is where you stand now, what resources you currently have available, and where it all exists in reality. Create a plan that outlines how you’re going to fill the remaining gaps. Minimize waste in your department to free up your budget and begin to position your team to scale.

Step 3. Worry about the gap, not the project.

Turnover isn’t a word that sits well with any business of any size. Sometimes it creates problems, but it’s exactly what you need to weed out the main gaps within your department. You can look at it one of two ways; you’ll have the waste of always looking for new talent, delays due to always trying to find that perfect talent, bringing people up to speed…OR you can look at it as a worthwhile investment in furthering your team’s strengths. Don’t hire contractors and agencies for what they can accomplish. Hire them for what they do best. There are agencies that can give you the world, but there are only few who can work with their passion. There are people who were made to do a few things really well; those people were designed to fill your gaps.

Now it’s time to begin again. Remember, a well-oiled marketing team is always going to be a work in progress and will be far from perfect.

Not everyone who starts with you will make it to the finish. Realizing that priorities and needs change in team members as well as the company, helps rationalize what could be a tough decision ahead.

Team building is a necessary part of business. Forming the right team is an art that few businesses have yet to master. Are you the next Picasso?