If a small or mid-sized business owner asks a marketing or advertising agency to help increase brand recognition, they will undoubtedly get sold what I call magic beans. These agencies say they determine the best strategy for their clients, but the strategy is always just the same tactics the agency specializes in. And why wouldn’t it be? Account executives aren’t going to engage in the proposal process just to turn down work.

Now this is not entirely the agency’s fault. Marketing and advertising agencies are disproportionately meant to serve marketing executives within large organizations. So if a business owner has little understanding of marketing, they should not approach a specialty shop unless they are 100 percent sure that the social media, advertising or event marketing service offered is the right tactic to reach their goal.

In other words, business owners will continue to get sold magic beans unless they first invest in the development of a sales and marketing strategy. Gravity’s Marketing Assessment Tool helps business owners begin this process by asking thought-provoking questions about organizational systems, communication issues, and potential areas to focus on.

The assessment offers some big-picture considerations that will determine how to optimize current marketing programs, such as:

All business owners should be working toward the same revenue generation goal of controlling our own destiny. To some, that means products flying off the shelves and rapid expansion. To others, it means they can be more discerning of clients they take on.

Marketing efforts should be part of a system that produces predictable, strategic results. In order to do so, they should be leveraged to their fullest potential in the individual sales process.

Before taking on new customers, businesses should understand who their current customers and prospects are, if they are buying all they should from the company, and what they think of the company — good and bad.

Don’t jump on the Google Ads bandwagon or invest heavily in print advertising until you take stock of where your company is, where you want it to be, and how you think you can get there. Then, work with a consultant or strategist who will help you decide which marketing tactics are best for your business. Once you have your strategy in place, you can call on the marketing or advertising agency that will make your vision a reality.

Gravity Marketing is celebrating the big 10. That’s 10 years of growing client businesses alongside our own. It’s also 10 years of trial and error, risk and reward, lessons learned, and problems solved. In this series, Gravity Marketing’s president and founder, Mike Kuharske, shares the top insights he’s gained over 10 years as an entrepreneurial marketer.