Finding a quality-marketing consultant can be a difficult task, especially if you’ve never worked with one before. We’ll talk about the best steps you can take to get the right person for the job, and what qualities to look for in a great consultant.
How To Find A Quality Marketing Consultant
Finding the right marketing consultant, especially as a small business or startup, can be a confusing and exhausting task. You may not know what you need, or even why you should work with a marketing consultant in the first place, so where do you start looking for someone to fill the role?
Marketing consultants understand the world of marketing in ways that many single business marketing team members don’t. They know how to analyze a market, they know what motivates consumers, and they know what strategies can help to improve business across many industries.
These individuals are not acting as independent ad agencies. Instead, they utilize their skills to help you better interact with your current client base and then use analytics to determine who else may be interested in your products or services, and how to get those people into your base as well effectively.
Although consultants will help businesses in different ways depending on their needs, there is a set of responsibilities that they typically take on for their clients. Those responsibilities are as follows:
Finding A Quality Marketing Consultant
Now that you know exactly what a marketing consultant can do for you and your business, it’s important to decide how to best go about finding one with all of the right qualities and characteristics.
We want you to understand that different consultants will be best for different businesses, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t qualities that every consultant should have. Consultants are highly skilled at their jobs, which often translates to an equivalent expense, so finding one who will benefit your business is essential.
Find The Expert
This brings us to the first step in finding a quality consultant, and that is to determine what expertise you need for your company. A model candidate for the job will have a working knowledge of your industry, so they won’t have to learn both the industry and your business model and needs before beginning to work.
Industry experience may not always be a priority, however. Sometimes getting an outsider’s perspective is exactly what you and your business need to succeed. You can ask a potential consultant to tell you how they have provided such perspective to new industries in the past to gauge whether they are a good fit.
Decide On Your Definition Of Success
The second step in finding a quality consultant for your marketing needs is to decide what you will see as success for the person in this role. Whether you are looking for lead generation, increased social media presence or you need a consultant to help create a stronger internal team; you will need to know before you start to search.
Knowing what you’re looking for as far as your consultant’s success will help you to narrow your search regarding their expertise as well. You may find many consultants who are experts in non-profit or startup marketing, but fewer who specialize in social media specifically, for example.
Check Out Portfolios
Just because the expertise and experience are there, doesn’t mean you will have chemistry with an individual, nor does it mean they create work in a multitude of styles to fit your business needs. It’s important to understand that consultants often put their personalities into their work, and that may not mesh with your needs.
Most consultants these days have portfolios on their websites or their LinkedIn profiles for you to view, and if they don’t, they should have one available for you upon request. Checking out a consultant’s portfolio will help you to determine if their style matches yours.
In addition to style, you want to make sure you won’t have personality clashes as you continue to work together over time. Whether your consultant will be with you for a few weeks or a few years, getting along is incredibly important. A consultant needs to understand what drives you and your business to truly be successful.
Communicate The Scope Of Work, And Stick To It
Consultants are often freelancers, so they need to take on work with an understanding of how much they will be doing and for how long. Although this can be somewhat adaptable as things come up, you need to ensure that you are both on the same page regarding expectations at the end of the day.
The scope of work that a marketer will be doing may affect how they charge for their services, and it will affect your outcomes, so having an open discussion about your needs from the first conversation is essential.
If your consultant is taking on the full scope of marketing work by himself or herself for a time, you may need to build in a transitional period in which you can take back over, or they can train a permanent employee to do so. Also, you should ask if they would bring in subcontractors to help with the workload.
Subcontractors shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but they can be a concern since you will have likely never met them, and they certainly shouldn’t be the main folks working on your project. It’s okay to ask about if or how your consultant utilizes subcontractors in the initial meeting stages to make sure you’re comfortable.
Qualities Of An Excellent Consultant
Now we’ve talked about the steps you’ll need to take to find the right consultant for the job, but what qualities do the best consultants have? It’s sometimes difficult to find out about a person’s character from a quick meeting, but doing some research on them will help you to decide if they have the right qualities to help you.
The first quality you should look for is someone who is genuinely invested in your business success. Consultants like this will often be invested in every business they work with, which is beneficial because they feel that your success is ultimately also their success. They see themselves as a partner to you and your team.
The second quality you need in a consultant is motivation to be proactive. We know that we've already discussed your committing to a scope of work, but the small things that consultants pick up on and add without you having to ask can add up, like printing an analytics report for you each week or emailing updates daily.
A third essential quality to look for in a consultant is accountability. Not everything goes right every time in a marketing campaign, but finding someone who can own up to the pieces that they could control, and then look for solutions rather than pointing fingers is always the best for business.
Other Factors To Consider
So far we have talked a lot about individual marketing consultants, but there are other ways of getting the help you need. For instance, working with an ad agency may be more in line with your needs than hiring a consultant. Although their jobs are complimentary, ad agencies perform different tasks than consultants do.
If you already have a solid brand and marketing strategy, you just need help to get it off the ground; you may want to work with an ad agency instead of a consultant. Ad agencies can be pricey, but they can also take the advertising work away from you completely while keeping your campaigns congruent.
Choosing to go the agency route, even if you choose a marketing agency over a freelance consultant, may mean that you will never learn to market yourself or perform marketing tasks yourself because the agency will always have someone to do these things for you.
Many small business owners wear too many hats as it is, so having someone else take over entirely might sound like a dream. However, not knowing much, if anything, about your marketing, can hurt you in the end. Having an individual consultant who can teach as they go is nice, so you never lose touch with your brand.
Hiring a marketing consultant can be confusing, complicated, and expensive, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time or precious dollars. A highly trained and skilled consultant can work wonders for your business’ success and can bring in a whole new client base that you never knew was waiting for your brand.
Although every consultant is different, there are some characteristics that you will want in every single candidate. From there, narrowing those candidates down by experience, industry success, and other factors should be much easier.
Finally, it’s important to remember that knowing what you want is the first step to getting it. Be prepared to discuss how you will rate the success of the individual you hire, talk about the scope of work he or she will take on, and make sure you know what your ultimate marketing goals are.
Once you find the right consultant, you will be shocked how quickly your business gains momentum. All you have to do is take your time and find the right person for you and your brand.