I'm planning on putting together some marketing materials - some on the web, some printed. I would like to work with a 'professional' to help execute my vision, but don't want to hold the person's hand each step of the way. When outsourcing something on the typical boards (ELance, etc) I typically have to drive everything. This is acceptable for those types of things (small programming projects not related to my startup), but in an area where I don't have a lot of domain experience (marketing and the creation of marketing materials), I'm looking for someone who might be able to provide some direction where needed. What are your experiences in this regard?
Thanks in advance!
It's about someone able to ask the right questions. You may or may not get a subject matter expert in your space. So the marketing materials are about the content and the presentation. The content can be driven by someone besides you, asking the right questions that you'll have to answer. The presentation doesn't have to be done by someone with subject matter expertise either necessarily. It's about asking the right questions of you so they can create the right presentation.
Unfortunately, it will be hard to obtain a valuable result without spending time yourself on this, if only to work with the consultant or vendor you eventually select.
Even very experienced marketing people normally won't know about your specific industry and your even more specific niche unless they somehow specialize in your industry, which may be hard to find. Whether they do or do not know your industry, only YOU know what it is that is different, valuable, compelling and "special" about your own particular offer in that space. Unless you help them understand how it is that you are the best choice for the prospective customer, they won't know how to help you "emerge from the herd" with excellent marketing materials.
It sounds like you need a marketing communication consultant.
A marketing consultant would be able to understand your company and offering, your target audience and of course your market and differentiation and then working with designers they will make your vision a reality.