Amanda Scout | Crain's Baltimore

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Amanda Scout

Background:  

MERAKI Marketing Collaborative is a marketing firm specializing in brand strategy, creative development, and project execution. Clients have included Puma, Under Armour, Red Bull, Kashi and Callaway. MERAKI is located in San Diego, Baltimore,and Kennett Square, Penn. Amanda Scout works at MERAKI’s San Diego location.

The Mistake:

I took on a marketing position at a company that really didn't know what their goals were, as far as marketing went.

I was previously the director of marketing for one of my current clients. Back then, they had hired me for the position without ever having done any kind of marketing in the past. They hadn’t needed to, because they had their family’s name and a solid sales team.

Someone had told them a few years earlier that they needed someone to do marketing, but I don’t think they truly understood why they needed it.

After I started with them, I put together a business analysis and developed a marketing plan. When I presented my plan back to them, they looked at me like I had five heads. I don’t think they really knew what their goals were, as far as marketing went.

It took months of conversations to get them to understand why any kind of marketing was important. We went from having this 360 degree marketing plan, to one that simply involved them having a website built.

Before you start working with someone, it’s important that you get a feel for their business and ensure they have real goals and metrics to work against.

The Lesson:

Before you start working with someone, it’s important that you get a feel for their business and ensure they have real goals and metrics to work against. That way, when you present a plan for a digital campaign, for example, they know why they need it.

Now, when potential clients come to me for a consultation, I probe to understand what they are looking for, beyond simply wanting marketing to happen. Part of it is sitting with them to help them understand how their business needs relate to marketing, and then setting expectations around that.

Marketing is a term that’s used very broadly, and I think that’s where part of the confusion comes from. If you ask laypeople to define it, they’ll probably have 12 different answers. That’s why part of my job involves helping people understand what it means, and what it can mean for them, specifically.

And it’s important that I ask them a lot of questions to arrive at that, rather than tell them, “this is what I do, this is what marketing is, and here is how I can change things for you.”

Photo courtesy of MERAKI Marketing Collaborative.

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