How To Know What Kind of Marketing Help You Need


How To Know What Kind of Marketing Help You Need

I’ll talk about this more later in the book, but marketing has definitely involved into a combination of art and science.  And to be successful, you need inputs that come from two distinctly different kinds of people (brain types):

Marketing Technologists.  People who understand the technology that can make marketing efficient and effective.  These tend to be the left-brained “techie” types who understand the devices and networks consumers use, data science, and essentially know how to target and reach the consumers you seek.

Marketing Creators.  People who understand how to communicate, both visually and through the written/spoken word.  These tend to be the right-brained “creative” types who understand color theory, appreciate white space, and intuitively understand how to communicate with the consumers you seek in meaningful ways that induce movement.

Equally as important is understanding how to get these two types of people to work together and respect the value each other bring to the table.

So what kind of marketing help do you need?

Marketing Technologists vs Marketing Creators

Allow me to scold some of my fellow marketing professionals for a moment, please.  When I was immersed in my PhD year, it became quickly apparent to me that there was a bit of a culture war going on between the new-wave technology-driven marketers who, honestly, were more “techies” than really marketers.

This issue still plagues our industry; technologists who build things because they can, not because they should.  They understand the technological aspects of their creation, but not the human aspects.

On the other hand, I saw marketers with more traditional backgrounds who were on the defensive and simply focused on how the new things were deficient, rather than trying to understand how they could be appropriately modified for better results.

I have watched painfully (cringing, kind of like when you see a crash happening and you can’t do anything about it) as people I’ve known for a long time in radio, television, newspaper, and other traditional media – people who committed themselves to being high-quality marketers – put their heads in the sand and double down as it was obvious the new technologies were going to swamp them.

Rather than evolve, they simply stuck to their guns hoping something would change, but knowing it wasn’t likely to happen.  I remember one radio station owner saying to me, “This Internet is just a fad and it will pass.”  I just remember walking away from that conversation saying to myself, “Yikes.  Sell your stock in that company.”

The culture clash cost both sides dearly.  The new-wave technologists could have benefitted greatly from people with decades of experience in consumer marketing, but neither saw the value in talking.  Traditionalists could have forged relationships with technologists that helped them evolve, survive, and thrive – but neither saw the value in talking.

The most common thing small business owners say to me:  “We tried digital marketing.  It didn’t work.”  That’s a loaded statement, and it takes a LOT of time to unpack it with them to understand what they tried, what they expected to happen, and hopefully understand what could have been done differently for a better outcome.

Technology-first companies have too frequently brought platforms to market with ready, fire, aim strategies and created a lot of small businesspeople who are disappointed and take this “tried it, it didn’t work” position.  That hurts all of us; professional marketers, businesses who need new customers, and even consumers because bad technologies affect both the business that used them and the consumers who were annoyed by them.

Do You Need Marketing Help from a Technologist?

Technologists generally help facilitate execution of planning.  For example, building a website, conversion of your customer personas into digital marketing target audiences, linking technologies and getting them to talk to each other, and making sure you have solid tracking and reporting so you can know what’s happening with your strategy in the real world.

In our not-so-magic marketing formula, technologists play critical roles in targeting, reach, and tracking results.  This is where we add the “science” to the “art and science” of marketing.

This is where most small business owners feel the least prepared.  They also feel unqualified to know which technologists actually know what they’re doing…

Here are some questions to ask any marketing technologist to see if he or she is the right fit for you:

Q:  Can you show me examples of what you’ve done that’s similar to my project?

Q:  What are the most common points at which this project could go sideways?

Q:  What do you need from us in order for this project to be successful?

In general, if a technologist can’t explain things to you in plain English you’re very likely to have communication problems; some of the most capable people are too smart for the room.  We always look for technologists who understand how to execute, but also understand the thought process at work and clearly see our high-level goals.

Do You Need Marketing Help from a Creator?

Creators spend most of their time understanding how to communicate your unique brand promise in a way consumers will connect with emotionally and engage in ways that help you create actionable leads for business growth.

In our not-so-magic marketing formula, technologists play critical roles in messaging.  This is where we add the “art” to the “art and science” of marketing.

Creating an emotional connection with prospective customers can be the biggest obstacle to achieving growth goals.  You can be the best, but if you can’t communicate the best, you may not get where you’re trying to go.

Here are some questions to ask any marketing creator to see if he or she is the right fit for you:

Q:  What do you love about our brand?

Q:  What do you find are the biggest motivators of prospects like ours?

Q:  What do you need from us in order for this project to be successful?

In general, creators are the more emotional of the two types of marketing help.  They have to be excited about your brand and reacting to you emotionally about it in order to do their jobs well.  If they’re not excited when they talk to you, they’re not likely to be the right fit.  Unlike technologists, they’re motivated by the emotion, rather than the challenge.  It’s always better to be reining in creators, rather than trying to motivate them.


Most small businesses need marketing help from both technologists and creators.  That’s why we’ve built a team of both, and that’s why we integrate them into a single task force for each client.

We invest in our clients before they invest in us.  If you’d like to learn more about this, please sign up for one of our free marketing workshops or contact us to set up a free, no-obligation assessment of your needs.

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After 3 decades as a professional marketer, serial entrepreneur and business consultant Steven Ludwig shares his best practices for small business marketing for owners, managers, and marketers with limited time, money, and expertise. Steven started his professional marketing career in broadcasting in the early ‘90s in Chicago after attending Valparaiso University. After a brief stint at an advertising agency specializing in entertainment and sports marketing where he worked with radio and television stations, movie theatre companies, record labels, musicians, and professional sports teams, he moved to Nashville to form The Marketing Group with his long-time business partner, Jim Wood. Having worked with some of the largest brands in the world, in 2010 he returned to local marketing primarily out of an interest and excitement for working with small business owners to build stronger companies. That desire comes out of early days in radio, where he worked closely with everything from car dealerships to restaurants, insurance and real estate agents, banks, home services companies, and specialty retailers of all kinds. Over the past decade, he has been on the bleeding edge of digital marketing technology, constantly seeking to understand complex strategies employed by giant corporations and then translate those capabilities into tactics small businesses can execute at a local level. Today, in addition to other business ventures with his wife and other long-time business partners, he still lives outside Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee and currently serves as Executive Chairman of EmpowerLocal, a digital marketing company building a nationwide network of digital, hyperlocal news and lifestyle publishers to provide efficient advertising opportunities for local, regional, and national brands.


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