Do you know the difference between a true professional and someone who just says they are one?
This client could be sued!
Technically, if you get paid to do something you can call yourself a pro – at least you’re no longer an amateur. But that also doesn’t make someone a true professional. (Pssst: they’re hoping you don’t find out!)
Are you aware of the long-term impact the difference a true marketing professional can make on your business’ marketing success? (Not to mention your profit – or lack thereof?)
I never like to disparage the work of another person, but I just took over some work for a client and this very issue gave me pause. They had been using another marketing professional for the past year.
First, let me say, the materials and designs this client had been receiving are thousands of times better than what the client could have produced themselves. They told me that up front, and I know they don’t have the technical skill to have completed the pieces I’ve seen, so it’s a no-brainer. And kudos to them for knowing when it was time to step their business marketing efforts up a notch!
What they received is better than what they could have done on their own.
But “better than I could have done myself” does NOT equal “best for my business”. It doesn’t even equal “better for my business” and sometimes not even “okay for my business”.
Here’s the thing, anyone with a computer nowadays can set up shop and say “hey I’m a marketing specialist” or “I’m a graphic designer” or “I’m a web developer”. Or an “IT professional” or “computer repair” or “programmer”. And after a couple of years, they can even say they’re experienced in the job; and likely have some client testimonials. I’m a big fan of life experience (Lord knows I have plenty of my own!), but there is also something to be said about education, specifically formal education in the chosen professional field, and a combination of the two is the sweet spot.
Would you want someone to buy a scalpel, say “I’m a brain surgeon,” and then operate on you?
So I’m taking this new client’s past work and reviewing it, and I notice a few things:
- The color isn’t correct. When thinking of branding your business, accurate brand color is a major way to keep cohesiveness. The color was close, but wasn’t exact. A true professional understands the difference, and the importance. And understands how color seen on a computer screen can vary to a final printed product depending upon the type of paper, the type of finish, and 1000 other things.
- Other colors and shapes were not those most likely to get the responses the client wants. There is psychology and science behind how certain colors and shapes make people think and feel. You don’t need to know all of that information – but the person doing work for you does.
- No white space / negative space. Less experienced designers will try to fill in every inch of the page, not realizing that the human eye and brain can only process a certain amount of information, and beyond that it just becomes overload for the brain and diminishes the message you’re trying to convey. It can even cause a prospect to NOT use your product or service. Our brains fill in the blank spaces, and this concept in itself is a powerful design tool.
- Using other brand’s logos, copyrights and trademarks – without their authorization. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Do you know what items in your marketing materials can get you sued? Do you know who will be in trouble if something is used without proper authorization? (Answer: you). If you received an okay once, do you know if it’s carte blanche to do whatever you want after? Do you need a separate approval every single time? You don’t necessarily need to know the answers to these questions, but your professional does. For a quick overview, check out this articles from the American Marketing Association: https://www.ama.org/publications/eNewsletters/B2BMarketing/Pages/how-post-social-media-without-getting-sued.aspx
- Do you know if all of the images in the design are free of copyright violations? Do you know who will be in trouble if it is not? (Answer: you). Even things as small as the background image, an icon used, etc. Is it okay to use and free of copyrights if you found it on Google or another website? Your professional should know the answers to all of this and be able to explain it to you and confirm the copyright and paid royalty status of any pieces used.
- Are there specific legal requirements for advertising for your profession? Do you know what those are? Do you know if the final design is compliant? Do you know who will be in trouble if it is not? (Answer: you).
- The messaging was sloppy, not cohesive between all of the different pieces, and not designed with a specific call to action. Do you know the most effective words to use and how to use them? Are you 100% on spelling and grammar? Your professional should be.
By the way, I can answer all of these business marketing questions for you. Years of formal marketing and design education, more years of professional training and education, and even more years of experience can take care of all of these problems for you – so that you don’t have to take care of the problems later.
So, these marketing pieces that I was reviewing were cute. They were much better than the client could have done on their own. And they were cheap, which was even better.
They could also get the client sued by possibly three separate companies (at least), and possibly have a formal complaint filed or professional license revoked by a government agency. Those would have (and still could … some of the pieces are still out there floating around the world) cost MUCH more than making sure a true professional – one with the best knowledge – was taking care of things. Even if it had cost a little bit more up front.
If you want to check up on your own marketing materials – it’s a service we can provide as part of our free strategy session phone call.
Just sign up now at https://vickywu.us/free-consultation, pick a time convenient for you, and you can email scans or photos of the materials you want a quick check-up for to [email protected] and we can review together during your call.
Note I am not a lawyer, and definitely not a copyright lawyer. A little common sense will go a long way – best bet is to assume everything is copyrighted, and only use it if you know you have permission to do so. When in doubt check with the person who owns the image/article you want to use … or your attorney.
Vicky is the CEO and Chief Creative Strategist of Vicky Wu Marketing. She draws from 30 years of experience at the CMO level, the CEO level, marketing for Fortune 500 companies and multi-million and multi-billion-dollar organizations, PLUS strategies learned helping startups and nonprofits with limited budgets … now focusing on providing SMBs with effective and efficient marketing strategies – giving them access to the same level of expertise as the really big guys with deep pockets, that they may not otherwise be able to access.