How do I find a reputable marketing/PR person that will get results and not just take my money?
I have an existing brick and mortar business. My needs are simple: I just need to get more people through the door. People who value my services and are willing and have the means to spend money on my products and services. My price point is moderate for the area I am in. I have tried many marketers, traditional and digital. They try for a while and when they do not get results they just give up. For example, in the case of a recent digital marketer, they decided the platform they were using (Google Adwords) isn't going for my type of business. That's after several months and several thousand dollars.
I would look for a marketing or PR firm that doesn't lock you into a long-term contract. See if you can find someone who offers services on a monthly basis. I would also have them set some real tangible goals. If those goals are met during the first month or two, then you can continue on. If they aren't met, have a discussion to find out why. If you don't like the answer, you can walk away without having dropped a ton of money. You want a PR or marketing firm that is going to listen to your needs and set goals around your desires. Maybe they will say your goals are too lofty, or maybe they will say they can get done what you are looking for. Either way, if you aren't locked into a long-term deal, you can feel comfortable knowing you won't be losing out on thousands of dollars if the partnership doesn't work.
For starters, I realize that it will potentially be rather difficult for you to learn all the ins and outs of digital marketing, as you'd maybe rather be focused on managing your business, but I strongly suggest that you start educating yourself on at least the basics of digital marketing. The main reason behind doing this is so that whenever you speak to a potential marketing/person agency, you are more likely to be clued up on whatever they might be telling you about what they can do for you. Plus, you never know when the skill might come in handy first hand.
As to how you find a reputable marketing person/firm? You can either do what most people do, and do a Google search, but of course, the downside is that you will have absolutely no way of knowing how reliable any company you settle on will be, besides being inundated with a multitude of results. And in any case, you say/suggest you have already been down that road with someone.
Alternatively, you could ask people you personally know if they have any recommendations. This way, you can hopefully rely on the "trust" that this contact of yours has for whoever they refer. However, as with all things, you can never really be 100% guaranteed that things will pan out as you hope.
Other things to consider... whoever you are speaking to re giving them your project, do simple things like researching them online, to pick up if anyone has said anything negative about them online, by way of a review, this can quickly help spot red flags, more so if you notice a pattern in such negative reviews.
In closing, although at the moment, my marketing agency works exclusively with lawyers, I am will willing to spend some time hearing what your business is about and seeing if there is some more specific advice I can offer you on the way forward. Plus, being in the industry, I very likely will know a few digital marketers that I could recommend.
So feel free to get back at me to take up the offer.
Founder of Telligent Marketing (SEO for Lawyers)
Oh man, I'm really sorry that happened. I've always mentioned this at the meetings I hold with my agency. Advertising does not work for many brick and mortar businesses. Especially if the business doesn't have HIGH TICKET items (like diamonds or some type of home service) What kind of business do you have?
I suggest you try having a solid local SEO strategy. An actual strategy. With hard months of dedicated work. Have an SEO friendly and mobile friendly website. Sometimes organic traffic works better than paid.
Everything is a process.
Traditional Marketing is expensive as well. In my opinion, have a solid online strategy can be much more beneficial. The challenge is finding how to communicate your values to the right audience that will buy.
Lastly, you need to have an excellent service. So people will keep coming back, and it keeps snowballing with organic online marketing efforts.
Make sure your Google My Business is optimized, so when someone searches for your business they can find you.
I hope I covered some of your questions. Let me know how else I can be of value to you.
Have you considered doing some of this yourself? Do a couple of key activities you would like your PR person to do. This way you'll have the direct experience with what needs to be done and you'll be able to spot the right candidate through prospecting calls.