How small businesses can tell they've hired the wrong video production company or marketing agency

Would you like fries with that? Determining if your creative professional is just an order taker

Business owners waste thousands of dollars every year on marketing videos, websites, brochures, sales flyers, etc. that don’t work. Sadly, these are often projects that shouldn’t have been started in the first place, but no one on their team (or their outsourced videographer or creative professional) advised them it was a bad move. As a result, business owners waste money and eventually become discouraged with taking a proactive approach to attracting new customers – “marketing.” This article focuses on helping you make wiser choices and not wasting time and money when it comes to hiring the right video marketer or creative professional for you.

Here’s the inside scoop on hiring videographer or creative professional who aren’t experts in marketing (and most of them aren’t): they’re not involved or concerned in whether the online video or design project makes sense for you, if it will be financially worth it, or whether the marketing project costs you money or makes you money (with new customers). The overwhelming majority of videographer or creative professional are order takers: you tell them what you want created, and they put it together. Now your marketing project may be a success or failure, but regrettably, the videographer or creative professional isn’t concerned with this—they’re looking to give you what you asked for, as well as spread their creative wings a little. They are not focused on whether or not your project brings in customers or whether you receive a solid ROI for your investment in their creative abilities.

As a business owner spending hard earned money, you can see this poses a problem. If you’re like 95% of business owners, you don’t know if a new video or design project is going to work for you or not—it’s a gamble, a crapshoot. Wouldn’t it make sense to have someone on your team that can help you decide which marketing efforts would give you the greatest return on your investment rather than someone who just “films videos,” or just “designs graphics”?

Case Study – A Real Life Example:
A client and friend of mine was solicited by a “marketing expert/design firm” in Scottsdale a few months before we met. He was sold a costly marketing plan package that ended up yielding nothing but a costly invoice (and no ROI). The marketing agency highly recommended the client invest a boat-load of money on full-color brochures, promotional flyers, and coupons. They stated, “...the brochure is marketing collateral that is essential…the brochure acts as a piece of marketing material that can be left behind to potential customers…”

As I read the marketer’s recommendations, I couldn’t help but think that before they spend all of the client’s money on brochures, flyers, and coupons, shouldn’t they first analyze how these projects will benefit the client? The truth is, this design company wasn’t concerned with whether or not the recommendations made sense for this client and his business—they’re order takers. That means, when a client walks through the doors, you sell them on a marketing and printing package—whether it make sense for them or not.

Before breaking open his piggy bank, I suggested that the client take a step back and look at what result these recommendations the marketing firm would really bring in. After taking a couple of days to think about it, he realized this might be a really bad move. The recommendations were a waste of money for the the professional the client was in. He sells a high-end service that customers pay a premium for, so a coupon would cheapen his brand. He gets business from personal interaction with customers, so leaving a brochure or flyer to convince a prospect to choose him was a waste (he noted that prospects decide to hire him within 30-60 seconds of their first conversation). Therefore, a promotional flyer or brochure was a waste of design and printing.

The bottom line is that unless you’re an expert in marketing, and you know what will work and won’t work, you’re next best bet is to hire a trustworthy expert who can help you understand what video and design projects are worth investing in and which ones aren’t.

You wouldn’t hire a mechanic that knew less about cars that you, so why would you hire someone to help you get more customers that knows less than you?

Instead of guessing or hoping the project will give you a good return on your investment, wouldn’t it be great to know that BEFORE you spend money on it? You make sure your car has enough gas in the tank before you take a trip, so make sure your next marketing project has enough in it’s tank to where you want to get to as well, e.g., bring in more customers and make you money.
How can you tell if you have an order taker versus a marketing expert who has your best interests in mind? 
If you suspect you’ve hired an order taker, ask her the following questions. Decide whether she’s worth the risk based on her answers.

* Can you provide me with any direction or wisdom as to why my video or design project may or may not work for you?
* What should I be aware of before I have an online video or design project like this created?
* Can you help me understand how this marketing video or design project is going to be used so I get the best return out of it, and how it should fit into my marketing strategy?
* How will you evaluate your success on my project? Will you decide based on the results I get or if you created something you feel is visually interesting?
* What kind of results can I expect from hiring you?
* Can you provide any past examples of small business videos or marketing projects that have worked out well for other your other clients? Can you explain why you got the results they did?
* If you were me, would you invest in this promotional video or marketing project? Why?
BONUS KILLER QUESTION: On this project, will I have to tell you what to do, or are you going to tell me what we're going to do? Hint—you want them to tell (more specifically, guide and counsel) you. Never hire someone who knows less about marketing than you do. 
Keep in mind, if a video marketer or design expert could really help small business owners choose the right projects that yield the highest return on investment, do you think they’d be charging bargain prices? No.
Discount videographers and designers—you know, the guy on the internet from Pakistan or Bulgaria or the neighbor’s kid in college—are always an option, but you do get what you invest in.
Back to Top