Annalisa Hilliard

Episode Transcript

Jen: Welcome to Meaningful, Measurable Marketing. We are in the Data Dames of Data Dames Marketing. I’m Jen Carroll.

Annalisa: And I’m Annalisa Hilliard.

Jen: If you like what you’re listening to on this podcast, you can connect with us at I’m also on Twitter at @jencwriter.

Annalisa: I’m on Twitter at @ahilliardm.

Jen: We’re also both on LinkedIn and you can even find Data Dames Marketing on LinkedIn. So, good morning.

Annalisa: Good morning. It’s a different time of day than the recording we did for the first episode.

Jen: That’s true. That was an afternoon in which we were enjoying an IPA and today we’re caffeinating. That was your word.

Annalisa: We’re drinking coffee. Well, before we get started, I think we should shout out to our small business highlights. Today we are drinking Cherry Blend Coffee Roasters.

Jen: We found them not too long ago simply by driving by the building. Annalisa is a coffee snob.

Annalisa: So, my radar for good coffee is always on.

Jen: Yeah. We drove by and it’s kind of not in a place that you would expect it to be.

Annalisa: It’s on Cherry. (laughs)

Jen: Yeah. It’s a little more industrial. You’re coming out of downtown and, and I still remember we were like, is that a coffee place? It said they had coffee there, but it was so unexpected. But anyway, that’s actually how we found them. And now we’ve tried them and we’re pretty impressed.

Annalisa: Yeah. You can find them online. I think it’s They’ll ship all over the United States.

Jen: Right.

Annalisa: And we have been partaking of Harvest Artisan Bread the last couple of days. They have a chocolate cherry bread that’s to die for and I died.

Jen: You’ve come back to talk about them on this podcast.

Annalisa: I thought it was worth it. (laughs)

Jen: Yeah, very much so.

Annalisa: Harvest Artisan Bread does not have a website. At least at this point. They are on Instagram at @harvestartisanbread.

Jen: I bet there is a delicious bread maker near you that could use your support right now. In fact, that’s one thing I wanted to mention today. I realize there are so many great small businesses out there right now that are struggling and we can’t support them all. Annalisa and I have definitely tried to support a lot of our favorites and I’m sure you are too. But one thing you can do that doesn’t cost anything is to leave them a review on Google, preferably on Google but also on Facebook.

Annalisa: Or Yelp.

Jen: Yeah. So, it doesn’t cost you anything and it’s often a strategy that makes a huge difference for small businesses, micro businesses, startups — just getting the word out there about them. You can also obviously share their posts on social media. I’ve seen a lot of people doing small business shout outs right now and I think that is awesome.

So, let’s remind our dear listeners…

Annalisa: All three of them (laughs)

Jen: (laughs) my mom being one of them. Um, let’s remind them what meaningful, measurable marketing is all about. Why? That’s our focus as a business and why we’ve named our podcast that. So, the first part is, is your marketing meaningful? Does it focus on the objectives and goals you have for your business? And that’s again a lot bigger than you know, um, just a marketing goal itself. That’s what do you want your marketing to move you toward in your business? Are they aligned?

Annalisa: Yeah. And then the measurable part is looking at your data to see whether you’re moving in the direction of success and obviously, being able to adjust your strategy accordingly.

Jen: And I think a lot of times the meaningful and measurable depend in large part on the size of organization that you are and the budget that you have. I mean there are a lot of really amazing marketing strategies that require enterprise level investments and maybe more than ever before those options are going to be out of reach for a lot of people, a lot of businesses. So I think one thing we want to focus on in this podcast is ideas that smaller businesses can use, medium sized businesses can use when those really big ideas, those really big strategies are out of reach right now.

Annalisa: Yeah. So, businesses that have a dedicated marketing person or a small marketing team, two to three people. This is really something that we’re going to focus our attention on for this podcast.

Jen: Little side note here. We had thought about changing the name of our podcast to…

Annalisa: Um…Uh…So

Jen: yeah, The Um and Uh Podcast

Annalisa: with a little bit of so on the side.

Jen: But, we really would like people to take us seriously. So, we decided to stick with Meaningful, Measurable Marketing.

Annalisa: So, today’s episode — how to vet a digital marketing team, or agency, or consultant, or freelancers. And we’re going to break down some of the red flags to look for as well as hiring options or rather considerations. How to determine what’s the best fit.

Jen: Yeah. So maybe you’re wondering why we would be talking about this right now. One key reason is given the circumstances that we all find ourselves in, we know that companies probably will not be hiring, I mean it’s a guess, but companies will probably not be having as many employees internally in-house going forward. With the really difficult layoffs and furloughs that we’ve seen, we know there also is going to be a lot of people out there who are marketing pros, but also that I think will also give rise to there being a lot of people who claim that they do marketing but don’t.

So, I feel like this might be a good time to consider. Think a little bit ahead about what kind of people, what kind of marketing professionals you want to work with and what are some red flags. I think that the more experienced you are in marketing for your business, the easier it becomes to see red flags. But let’s just start at the basics, at least of what we feel, are some red flags with other people who claim to be marketers.

Annalisa: I think in every industry you have those professionals that claim that they do all of it. So, the jack-of-all-trades. They do everything from paid search and organic search to content, social media…

Jen: They’re great writers, they’re great paid advertisers, they’re amazing SEOs. They can develop a website, they can do your social media…

Annalisa: Design your logo. They can help you brand.

Jen: Right. So, what are some issues with the jack-of-all-trades and what are you thinking right now?

Annalisa: There’s only so much time in a day. And so, when you do it all, your depth of knowledge is lacking.

Jen: We’ve talked about the T-shaped marketer. I think that’s a very helpful mental picture. And since we are not showing you pictures right now, describe the T-shape marketer.

Annalisa: Yeah. They have depth of knowledge and skill in one or two areas and then have a broad understanding of most of the areas that encompass digital marketing.

Jen: Now, I would say that most in-house marketers have to be a jack-of-all-trades to some degree, so we’re not saying that a general understanding of all the aspects of marketing is a bad thing, especially when you’re a one-person team. You have to do that. You have to have a general understanding. But when you’re looking at different marketing professionals who can really help you make some strides in key marketing areas, the problem with the jack-of-all-trades is they aren’t going to bring the depth of knowledge that you need to accomplish goals.

Annalisa: That’s one thing to look for. Another thing to look for would be the team or the consultant that says that one area of digital marketing is all you need. So, let’s say they say all you need is PPC, like paid search. Put all your eggs in that basket and you’ll achieve all the goals that you’re going after.

Jen: Yeah. The problem with, and PPC is a great strategy — it’s a great short-term strategy but the moment you stop running those ads, you are right back where you started before you ran the ads, you didn’t make any long-term achievements that will help your marketing in the future. That’s one thing to be careful of. Those marketing professionals who are only pushing PPC and you know, I guess it’d be a good point to mention PPC, paid ads, programmatic display ads, all of those. That whole search engine marketing piece is a very technical skill in and of itself. So, I guess I’m going to jump back real briefly to the jack-of-all-trades. That’s something I hear a lot from jack-of-all-trades, that they do search engine marketing and it is an in-depth knowledge base, that is, you definitely don’t want to put something like that in the hands of a generalist. It’s just way too specific. But anyway, a lot of organizations will, or a lot of freelancers or consultants or agencies will push just the paid search and it won’t bring you long-term gains.

Annalisa: Right. And on the other hand, they might say, all you need is organic search / SEO. Or, they might say all you need is social media, et cetera. So, if they say, all you need is one piece of the pie, you won’t see the results that you could see if you were having more of a mixed marketing strategy.

Jen: Yeah. And I guess that speaks to, again, back to that need for meaningful marketing, that marketing strategy that’s focused on your organization’s business goals. There’s no one piece of marketing that’s going to help you accomplish business objectives and goals. It requires a cohesive effort, a concerted effort across a broad range of strategies.

Then you have your all brand people, the flashy design, which, and we love flashy design unless it interferes with the function of your website. But that’s another story. That’s another podcast.

Annalisa: Yeah. So, all brand, no strategy.

Jen: Well, and I think that, I’m trying to remember, we were having this conversation recently and we want to make it clear that all brand without strategy is noise. It’s just a lot of noise that you’re just shouting in a whole bunch of different places. And again, not coming back to objectives and goals. But, we don’t want to minimize the importance of a strong brand, either, because without a strong brand, strategy fails to build those relationships that you need to build with the people who buy your services or your products. Both are key. I feel like more often, and maybe it’s just the people that we know, but we more often we see the all brand, all the time folks who are really missing how brand needs to be integrated with your strategy.

Annalisa: Yeah. One other thing that’s something to think about is how a business treats their employees.  I think especially in times of challenge.

Jen: Yeah. Seeing a lot of posts about this right now on social media and other places.

Annalisa: If you can look at how a brand or a business treats their employees, I think you can get a pretty good idea of how they’ll treat their clients. I mean, I’ve seen some, like you said some posts about this recently. One was a company that pledged not to do any layoffs and they were trying to get other companies to join them. But the response from their employees being really appreciative and set at ease when their company says we’re going to do everything we can and we’re pledging not to do any layoffs.

Jen: Yeah. And then I know there was another one you saw that actually was supporting employees whose spouses had lost their jobs and were finding creative ways of recognizing that half the income in that household was gone and it’s really impressive. The organization was like, hey, we’re really not sure how this is going to work, but we just know that we’re so committed to our employees that this is something we believe in and we’re going to do. And I think right now is a great sifting moment in history where, I mean, I feel like prior to this, it may have been maybe a little more challenging to see how people treated their employees. I know that we have Glassdoor. I know that there are, you know, other signs that companies maybe don’t treat their employees well, but I feel like many organizations could hide that to some degree, but I feel like right now, this is a great time to look around and really get a good idea of who is going above and beyond for their employees right now and knowing that they’re also the kind of company that’s going to go above and beyond for you as a client.

Annalisa: We were talking to someone last night saying their company unfortunately has been kind of tightening the grip in this time. Um, micromanaging and being really strict about, you know, writing down all your time, making sure you’re writing down your time so we know exactly how much time you’re spending and what you’re doing. Just that lack of trust to their employees that who they’ve hired…

Jen: And the response from that person was, Hey, I’m just putting in my time here.

Annalisa: When you treat people like that’s what you get.

Jen: So, we want to talk a little bit about hiring considerations, you know, pros and cons. We’ve kind of already mentioned there are three main options when you’re looking at hiring a marketing professional. There’s a lot of great freelancers out there, many of them definitely in need of some work right now. There are obviously plenty of agencies and then there are consultants and for the record Annalisa and I consider ourselves to be consultants, we don’t offer the full range of marketing services that we’ve already mentioned, that’s usually something you’ll get with an agency. And, honestly that’s a pro for many organizations that are lacking that in-house expertise and they want a one stop shop where they can get it all. So, I mean, that is definitely a benefit of an agency. I think that one of the cons with that also is that it comes at a price. So, agencies have understandably a lot of overhead. They have a lot of them, most of you know, right now, nobody’s going to the office, but they have offices to maintain and lights to keep on and all of those things. And they charge for having all of that in one place.

Annalisa: It’s been my experience in working for an agency that oftentimes, even though you say the ideal is to have a good balanced marketing mix,  different seasons, different campaigns only require maybe certain aspects of digital marketing. And so, you’re paying for a whole team in which you may not be using every team member at a given time.

Jen: Right. Good point. And also, and I guess I should say here, Annalisa and I have both worked for agencies. I’ve been at this for about 24 years and I’ve worked for two and Annalisa has worked for one. And the other thing that does tend to happen with agencies is, when you think about what we talked about earlier, the T-shaped marketer or somebody with like the deep breadth of knowledge, oftentimes those folks can be hard to keep, you know, every agency has its challenge bringing in really good talent. So, they have a tendency to fill in those blanks with less experienced hires. And while I’ll be the first to say, I love to support college grads and I love to support young professionals in their field, they’re oftentimes not necessarily the person that I want managing a strategic marketing plan that I’ve got going, or maybe they’re not necessarily the person that I want managing my PPC budget because that can go up and smoke really fast.

Annalisa: I think it’s went up in flames. (laughs)

Jen: (laughs) That’s oftentimes what happens at agencies as they’ll have a spot to fill and it will be hard to get the talent that they want high competition. So, they’ll have a lot of inexperienced in house hires.

Annalisa: Right. So, for freelancers.

Jen: Freelancers are really great for like one-off projects or they themselves are often like T-shaped marketers who have a strong depth of knowledge in a technical or creative area.

Annalisa: Right.

Jen: I mean a freelancer developer that’s their area of specialty and they’re very much comfortable and used to being given an assignment so to speak. Or a creative, give me a new logo or develop a fresh design that goes with this content or do a video for me, you know, write me a video script or film my video. So there’s a lot of great talented freelancers out there. And most often they are very specialized in one area. And I think as an in-house marketer running a small, either you’re the one person show or you’re running a small team, you need to be very comfortable. If you hire freelancers, they can obviously be very cost effective. And again, that, that depth of knowledge in that one specific area is really key. But you have to be comfortable leveraging each freelancer strengths and also being that central controller, so to speak, of all the freelancers. Because what often happens is freelancers aren’t necessarily collaborating together. They are independent operators who, you know, you’re web designer may not even talk to your web developer or you know, your web developer may never speak to your content writer, you know, and you, if you’re going to leverage freelancers, you have to be comfortable coordinating all of those roles together.

Annalisa: So, some other options or things to consider for what, what’s the right fit for you. Um, a lot of times companies do a request for proposal, RFP process.

Jen: The dreaded RFP process.

Annalisa: And what happens in those, you know, you have, uh, several different agencies or, uh, some agencies and a couple of consultants come in, uh, give a pitch, a presentation of what they would do if they worked for you. Um, and I think that’s, that’s good. And that’s one piece of the puzzle and one part of the process that you should, you should look at. But another piece I think would be to actually have a conversation. I think that’s something different than just having someone stand in front of you and present something. It’s to actually have a conversation with you to be able to ask you questions about your company, your goals, uh, to see if there are, they’re a good fit for you and vice versa if, if you’re a good fit for them. Yeah. Just looking to see, you know, what specific recommendations they have for you versus like just a presentation that kind of, they could go into any business and give a presentation.

Jen: Yeah. And I think that’s one important, um, discerning factor is the kind of questions that a potential agency would ask or a potential consultant. Somebody who’s, you know, if you want somebody to come in and give you some perspective, you want somebody to come in and give you some strategic ideas. I mean, you may be, you may have been an in-house marketer for 20 years and we all need different perspective. Sometimes we all need new and fresh ideas. You have that conversation because you were, you’re looking for somebody that is going to ask you really compelling questions. So, I think like if you, when you just do an RFP and you’re just looking for, you know, the dog and pony show, um, I guess I don’t, I don’t want to minimize it. And RFP is a really important accountability tool and I think that organizations are right to use them, but at the same time they’re only, they tend to be very one sided.

So, we want to mention that one option that I think more marketers could look at our short term, I don’t want to use the word contract, but kind of a, a short-term…

Annalisa: Trial period.

Jen: Yeah. To give agencies or consultants or even freelancers an opportunity to show what they can do. Not with the idea that, Oh, after three months we’re just going to get rid of you. But a three-month time when we’re going to say, Hey, after, you know, after we’re going to go down this path with these recommendations, we’re going to give this a try. Let’s reconvene. Let’s circle the wagons, so to speak, in three months and get, you know, have another conversation. And I think any organization that really wants to serve you well as a client is going to be willing to do something like that. And that’s something, you know, again, Annalisa and I have done quite often now with clients because we, we don’t want to necessarily lock them into a long-term client. I mean a contract, not to say that you’re going to see results in three months, you’re not going to see like your entire marketing program turn around in three months.

Annalisa: Right. But at the same time, you will be able to know whether or not, um, it’s a good relationship by, you know, trying out the communication. Are they responsive?

Jen: Yeah. It’s really, it’s really like trying out that fit. And I can’t overemphasize the importance of communication with your, with your team. Um, so many times when we’ve talked to potential clients, one thing that always seems to come up is the, the agency or the consultant or whatever that they signed a contract with. And then they would have to ask them for everything. Like they would have to ask, where’s the report? Where’s the artwork? So, they were having to do like all the work in that relationship where it really needs to be a partnership.

So, we want to finish up with what this has to do with meaningful measurable marketing, because we promise that that would be the focus in some way, in some shape or form with every episode that we do. And I think I mentioned already now more than ever, we need discernment at this time. And we’re all in uncharted waters and I can almost guarantee you that your marketing program is going to have some failures in the coming months because we, you know, we’re just all trying to figure things out.

Annalisa: Well, even so that’s typical. I mean, you’re never going to have a hundred percent success. Yeah. And you’re never going to, you know, you shouldn’t have a hundred percent failure either.

Jen: Right? So, that goes back to the, you know, again, if, if you have marketing that’s focused on your objectives and goals and you have metrics in place that you are monitoring, then you know, then you’re going to be able to make some forward motion. It might be two steps forward and one step back. But you want to be able to do that with an organization and agency consultant, freelancers who are a good fit for you.

And that concludes episode two of Meaningful, Measurable Marketing. Hopefully there’ll be a few things in there that you could take away. I’m Jen Carroll.

Annalisa: I’m Annalisa Hilliard.

Jen: If you liked what you heard, please connect with us on You can also find us on Twitter at @jencwriter…

Annalisa: and at @ahilliardm.

Jen: And we are both on LinkedIn.

Annalisa: Until next time.


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