Having worked in marketing for over 20 years, I’ve been in many situations where experts have been needed – pulling in people with specific skills to be help drive the growth of a brand. When it comes to looking for a marketing partner to support your business it can often be confusing, especially when it comes to digital and social media, there are so many “experts” out there.

It’s a bit like going to a doctor. You ask yourself is it a general check up you need or a specialist like a surgeon who focuses on a specific area of expertise? The analogy applies to marketing support, do you need a broad-brush approach, or do you need someone who is a particular specialist who can help guide you on particular nuances of the challenges you are facing. It’s an important distinction as they are often different skillsets.

Many years ago in 2008 when Mastermind started I was able to offer an extensive range of marketing services, having been in broader marketing roles in larger corporates like Southcorp Wines/Treasury Wine Estates, Macquarie Bank or Anderson Consulting where diversified marketing skills were required and there were more team members to draw upon. It was at this time that digital was relatively new.

Having recently worked in one of Australia’s first digital only agency (the early days of the White Agency started by the legendary Elizabeth Buchanan and Craig Galvin) the thought of having a speciality in digital was almost unheard of at that time, and digital extended to websites, search and banner ads. Getting your head around pay per click campaigns was new and the measurement brought a whole different level of transparency as to how a brand operated and it was those early adopters who really pioneered some fabulous results for their brands.

Many of the social media platforms we use today were not even conceptualised (yes showing my age!), mobile responsive websites were not even thought of and the digital landscape was much simpler. But over the last ten years as the online landscape evolved, I quickly realised that it was an environment that you need to be hands on in. To offer any value to clients it’s essential to always be abreast of the latest launches, continually learning and testing to stay ahead. And with that we stopped offering guidance on projects like trade marketing or packaging, as this area also changed quickly, and we were not in the minutiae day to day to offer the best advice.

Mastermind Consulting very much became a direct, digital and social media specialist and we’ve continued to add specialists to the team over the last ten years to deepen the expertise we offer in this ever changing marketing environment.

It’s a real privilege to partner with an organisation to bring their digital and direct to consumer presence to life – but we’ve learnt over the years that to do this effectively it requires a team of specialists who are living and breathing this content day to day and are hands on with the tools. It changes, and there’s a constant requirement to keep pace of what’s happening – knowing how the algorithms work, being nimble with paid advertising, understanding the tools to utilise in a digital toolkit when they are required. It’s very much like being a surgeon and knowing one thing really well!

Remember, the benefit of digital and social media is that it’s incredibly measurable, but not all of these tools lead to immediate sales and it may be that you’ll need to invest for the long term and build a plan together that’s multi-faceted. For someone to be effective in this they have to be using the tools, and knowing what’s changing because it’s more than just talk – a good digital plan can absolutely revolutionise your business as many have found throughout COVID-19.

What you should be asking of a digital, social and direct marketing partner:

There’s lots who profess to be experts in this digital and social media space, but many are generalists and just dabble around the edges. If you are looking for a direct, digital or social media marketing partner, there’s some useful questions to ask.

  • What is your involvement in digital and social specifically?
  • How long have you specialised in this space?
  • What are the challenges you see brands are facing right now?
  • Have you worked with tiny budgets and if so, what are the results?
  • Are you going to be the one who works on my digital campaign or will you outsource this to a specialist?
  • What social media platforms do you know best – remembering that there’s thousands to draw upon and someone who gets what you are trying to do has to understand the tools?
  • Can you tell me about some of the successful campaigns that you have recently run?
  • Who are your current clients and can you share some case studies of success?
  • How will you report on the success of the campaigns you will run – what do the metrics look like that you will measure?
  • How do you run paid advertising – is there a platform you use?

It’s worth spending the time upfront to really assess the partner and get to know their approach. It’s a big deal to take the leap and seek some help and often it’s worth seeking out the expertise of the specialist if you have specific goals and objectives that you are looking to achieve.