Rock Star, Guru, Diva or Evangelist? Finding Marketing Expertise in an Age of Super-Egos


Anyone can be famous (or infamous) in an age of constant self-promotion afforded by so many social media platforms. Andy Warhol (famously) predicted that at some point “everyone would be famous for 15 minutes.” Unfortunately, there’s an alarming braggadocio that seems to have spilled over into the professional realm in pursuit of clients. If the experts are calling themselves rockstars, evangelists, divas or leaders, move along. Or, ask for proof.

There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy dose of confidence and the ability to create a professional profile your mom would be proud of. Still, the field is awash with so many self-described marketing and branding experts that even the move to a 24/7 marketing cycle wouldn’t seem sufficient to keep everyone busy.

If you’re in need of marketing and branding expertise to hire, it’s “buyer beware” or at least, aware. With slick websites featuring stylish visuals, snappy prose and a presence on every social media platform, how can you tell if an individual or agency is the real deal with skills beyond aggregation and a point of view? They might be good at making themselves look good…but how do you know if they can do it for you?

Even if you have a small budget and your priority is finding competitive fees, there are small and mid-sized agencies with solid credentials and proof of experience and results to meet your needs.

Here are a few guidelines to help you choose wisely and not be swayed by the superficial, but rather inspired by the substantive.

47 Things to Know Before You Hire a Branding Expert

As you review capabilities before making a hiring decision, ask:

What is their relevant experience?

Expert aggregation of views from other marketers or brand experts does not equal marketing expertise. How long has the firm been in business? Can you verify credentials? Have they won any awards?

Think about the expertise and skills you need. If you require significant content development, look for former journalists who know how to tell a story succinctly and meet deadlines. Almost everyone does some writing these days – even if only in 140 character bursts – and that’s led many to claim a talent for writing.

Also, look at firms that bridge marketing techniques or move “beyond the click” as outlined in a Forbes Brand Voice column. While its easy to get excited about the next new thing, there’s significant value in a firm that can write a press release, work a trade show and advise on the latest digital strategies.

5 Things To Look For When Hiring Your Marketing Agency

Do they offer case studies and can you look at their portfolio for completed projects?

Case studies offer a great opportunity to demonstrate program results. Along with portfolios, they also illustrate whether a firm is creative, strategic and understands your line of business. Not every case will be germane to what you want to do but it serves as a concrete example of how folks think. Portfolios will also show you whether clients benefit from custom strategic marketing or branding work or whether the same ideas are used again and again.

Do they offer recent client references?

You wouldn’t hire someone to work for you without checking references, and you may be spending well more on a marketing campaign than you’d pay a single employee. Do due diligence – it pays. If a firm can’t offer multiple recent client references, that should be a red flag.

Are they willing to meet for a free consultation?

Besides the tangibles of what to look for when choosing your marketing or branding experts, there’s also that feeling you get when you meet the agency’s principals or team members. You want to make sure they’re the right fit for your organization or project since you’ll be spending time (and money) with them. And honestly, who wants to work with a diva or an evangelist?



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