Why the Best Digital Marketing Consultants have “Been There, Done That”

by Marcus Sheridan

digital marketing consultant

There is an old phrase that goes something like this:

“If you can’t do it, teach it.”

And although I’m sure this may apply at times to the digital marketing space, I’m happy to discuss today a trend I’m seeing more and more of that will bode well for many businesses going forward.

A New Breed of Marketing Consultants

My friend Mark Schaefer recently came out with an exceptional list of 70 Rising Social Media Stars where he talked about some incredibly smart and savvy up and comers in the social media space, many of which have been up to some pretty impressive things online with their own businesses or as they’ve worked for an agency.

As I looked at this list from Mark, I could only smile as I read some of the names:

Jason Diller, who took the mulch industry by storm with aggressive content marketing is now crushing it as VP and the Marketing Director with The DSM Group.

Krista Kotrla, well known for taking Block Imaging’s blog (and business) to the top of the heap in the medical devices space is now teaching other companies how to accomplish what she was able to achieve with Block.

Ryan Hanley, who did some world class digital marketing with a small insurance company in Albany NY has now started Hanley Media . Even better, he just  published a tremendous work—Content Warfare—one I’d highly recommend to any business, big or small, looking to be noticed in a very noisy world. (check out the excellent video below)

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James Hahn, the first person to ever embrace content marketing in the oil and gas space recently started his own firm, Tribe Rocket.

And the list goes on and on.

But if you look at each of these individuals, they’ve all proven themselves online with other businesses—by actually doing the work—therefore forming their own “case study” of exceptional results and strategies.

As someone who went from being a broke “pool guy” in 2009 to starting/running an agency  (The Sales Lion) today, this trend is something that gives me a big smile.

You see folks, in many ways, inbound and content marketing are young industries, at least in the digital sense. Because of this, there aren’t countless case studies (at least published) of massive success stories from average Joe businesses doing extraordinary things online. With The Sales Lion, I’ve personally been on a quest to create my own case studies and it thrills me to see so many others attempting  and achieving the same.


A case study that continues to make me smile, River Pools from from roughly 1000 to 230,000 web visitors a month because of sound content marketing.

Over the years, I’ve seen more than my fair share of social media / digital marketing “consultants” that really don’t have so much as one significant case study under their belt so as to say, “Here is a company that wasn’t generating major business from their website and this is exactly what we did to achieve success, growth, and results.”

That being said, this industry has never had so many great and experienced consultants/agencies to choose from– people that actually know what they’re talking about.

Focus on the Right Questions When Choosing a Digital Marketing Consultant

My point with this little post is very simple:

If you’re a business looking to engage a consultant (regardless of size) for your digital marketing efforts, start with results.

  • Don’t focus on Klout scores.
  • Don’t be swayed by silly social media metrics.
  • Don’t think they know what they’re doing just because they’re a published author.

Instead, look at their track record.

Have they helped companies build their brand, business, and bottom line through their online marketing efforts?

If so, can they show you exactly how they did it, and then what the monetary results were?

By taking these simple steps and getting the answers to these incredibly important questions, you’re very likely to get the help you need to take your business to the next level.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve June 9, 2014 at 9:15 am

Hey Marcus,

I had my ears full yesterday listening to 4 of your awesome podcast, Thank you!

What produces that graph? It doesn’t look like G analytics.

Thank you and keep rocking it brother!


Marcus Sheridan June 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

Hey Steve! That graph is from my HubSpot analytics.

Appreciate the support,



Jason Diller June 9, 2014 at 9:30 am


Thanks for the mention brother. I really appreciate it. It’s been a long road over the last 4 years… but as I said to you in my initial email in 2010… People can dominate this industry with principle-based strategies and a lot of hard work.

Also, great to see Hanley on this list. That guys gets it!


Marcus Sheridan June 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

My pleasure bud. You’ve been doing incredible work and DSM is lucky to have you. Keep it up!



James Hahn II June 9, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Well, dagum! Wouldn’t you know my man Marcus went and dropped my name in a blog right when I needed to get FIRED UP — I hit the stage for the biggest speech of my career tomorrow. Must’ve been the Holy Ghost!!

For real, thank you. You’ve been one of my greatest allies, supporters, and mentors. I don’t even want to think about where I’d be without you, brother.

But I better get back on the grind. Gotta come STRONG tomorrow! Presentation is called “Results Rule: How to Sell Anything to Anyone in Oil & Gas.”

Just remember: Content that Serves + Tactics that Rank = Prospects that Buy :)


Kaloyan Banev June 11, 2014 at 2:10 am

I personally think that nothing have changed in online marketing in the last decade. The evergreen strategy still work quite well. Though with a bit of shift. Quality content marketing have always been priority number one for reputable digital marketing agencies and consultants.


Adrian Clegg June 11, 2014 at 5:48 am

Marcus, the phrase you are looking for is “those who can, …do; those who cant, ….teach. However this now needs to be changed to “those who can,….do; those who can, …also teach.” No better way of demonstrating the confidence so many have in this system.


Daryl @ Naples Appliances June 14, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I completely agree with you about finding a company with proven results to be your inbound marketing partner. Many of the techniques that create great results online are discovered through smart work and research.


Manpreet Singh June 16, 2014 at 7:11 am

nice post keep it up. i’m biggest fan of your site!
Thanks for sharing


Tom Repp June 18, 2014 at 6:46 am

Good advice Marcus & thanks again for your time this past March while in the “Zoo”. Looking back at my college career, the very best professor I had was the one that was actually doing what he taught. I, clearly, received the most benefit from the guy that was actually “in the trenches”.

We are making several strong case studies in the, “rust-belted”, industrial market and hope to be on your next list.

All the best, Tom


Marcus Sheridan June 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Love it Tom. Glad to hear you’re creating these case studies and finding success in an “old-school” industry that can be quite slow to move in the digital direction ;-)

Best to you my man,



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