The internet has made it easier than ever for anyone to synthesise a hundred great thoughts, put up a website or blog post and sound like an expert – especially in marketing and creative services. That increases the risk for you and your business if you confuse someone who can explain with someone who can execute.
There are two simple ways you can de-risk your marketing engagements: ask for references and ask for proof of success (or at least operation) in the field. It’s your money, so don’t be shy about asking hard questions.
Also, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a chance on someone who says they haven’t solved your business problem before – that’s how people get their start, after all – so long as you both know the lay of the land and go into it eyes wide open (and the project costs reflect this). In that case, being able to read and trust their character is critical, so listen to your gut.