Unicorn Hunting

an·ec·dote /ˈanəkˌdōt/  noun – a short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person

We write these anecdotes as a way to share meaningful stories and lessons learned from our journey as an agency.

Business Bob is a smart man. He’s worked hard to bring great ideas, products, and services to market. And his small business has made a healthy profit from his efforts. But Bob hates complacency. He wants to continue growing his business to sell more product, serve more people, and earn more profit.

Bob knows it’s going to take a lot of work to efficiently grow his business. And he doesn’t have the time or specific skillset needed to do it on his own. So Bob decides he just needs to hire a single employee to tackle his marketing – someone who is as smart and dedicated as he is, who is strategically minded and purposeful in their work choices, who has all the skills needed to both think of and execute all of the marketing and advertising projects, who is a self-starter that comes to the table with ideas rather than being told what to work on, and who is able to honestly prove the value and truths of the work that they’re doing.

Bob doesn’t know it yet, but he’s hunting for a unicorn. And he’ll probably just settle for a dud.

In the 15+ years that I’ve been working in marketing, I’ve worked with several internal marketing employees who shouldn’t be getting paid – they should be getting fired, and replaced with an outside team. The reason I say this with such passionate bluntness is that a $65,000+ marketing employee salary is a lot of money to a small business, and it hurts to watch that money wasted when it could have been utilized.

Marketing employees often boast these things on their resume or LinkedIn profile: a hit list of software they’re familiar with but not great with, a pile of marketing buzzwords they heard at a conference that their last hopeful boss told them to attend, and an outline of a bunch of projects they’ll happily take credit for even though they hired outside teams to accomplish most of the actual work (at an extra cost to Bob). Bob should avoid these employees like the plague when he’s focused on growth. However, it’s important to note that an internal marketing employee can be a very powerful tool if his goals include building team culture, sharing frequent social media updates from inside the walls, or organizing and hosting events. We’ve strategically told our clients to hire those types of employees to execute those specific tasks on more than one occasion.

Marketing unicorns exist, but are extremely rare. Unicorns possess a plethora of marketing production skills (photo, video, design, web development, copywriting, etc.) so that Bob doesn’t have to throw even more money into hiring outside specialists. Unicorns have business acumen that leads their very strategic choices of what to be working on, so that Bob doesn’t constantly have to be telling them what to be working on, or worrying about his resources being wasted. Unicorns are honest and dedicated; they have no problem admitting when something didn’t work out as planned so that they can learn from mistakes, and they don’t lie or become bureaucratic to protect their job.

I could go on, but I think the definition of the unicorn is clear.

So what other choice does Bob have? Should he hire a typical advertising agency that is going to sell him on the services the agency makes the most money on, regardless of whether that work is effective? Should he self-manage a pile of freelancers who won’t return his emails because they’re too busy with their full time jobs?

My suggestion is that Bob should hire an outside team full of honest, strategic, and skilled people. A team with business-minded thinkers who are backed by extremely talented doers. And he should treat them like and pay them like they’re on his payroll, with the expectation that he gets treated with the same level of respect and effort in return.

And that’s not a suggestion disguised as a sales pitch to get more work for myself; it’s a suggestion based on a recipe that I’ve personally seen produce the best results, whether it’s the Fused team at the helm of the marketing ship or not.

So if Bob is focused on reaching new audiences, selling more product, improving efficiency, and increasing profits, he should consider reading about the Fused team, or contacting us. We’d love to be his unicorn.