Hiring a Marketing Consultant: What to Look For

Spotter by Thomas CC BY-2.0

What should you look for? What questions should a business owner ask a marketing consultant?

 

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Business Coach, Shawn Mari Turi for the Connected Women of Influence Radio Show, and this was one of the topics raised during our conversation.

Since I had just written about the things to consider before bringing on a Marketing Consultant last month, I thought it would be helpful to follow that post up with digging a little deeper into the question.

What questions should you ask a Marketing Consultant you are considering engaging for your business?

Honestly, it isn’t so much about what you ask them (though I’ll cover that in a bit), as what they ask you.

 

Deciding if a consultant is a good fit is more nuanced than checking criteria off a list.

 

Years of experience and expertise in your industry, while relevant, won’t tell you if they’re the right consultant for your business and specific marketing challenge. Meeting your budget needs is certainly an important factor to consider, but it won’t tell you if they have the potential to become a trusted resource or just a source of aggravation. 

You can discover a lot about someone’s expertise, their integrity, and what value they can add, simply by paying attention to the questions they ask.

 

[bctt tweet=”Marketing consultant a good fit? Deciding isn’t as much about what you ask them as what they ask you.”]

 

What you’ll discover by the questions they ask is if they are simply an order taker or if they’re going to take the time to really get to know your business and be focused on serving your best interest rather than their own.

You’ll discover if they are a “one-and-done” consultant, or if they are someone you will be able to turn to time and again to help you solve your marketing challenges and reach your marketing goals?

Not all consultants and business owners are going to be a match. And that’s ok. Because there are other consultants out there that may be better suited to your needs.

If a prospective client calls me with a specific need that is outside my area of expertise, I will gladly refer them to someone that I think is a better fit. If a business owner is looking for a consultant to simply follow their direction without offering insights on how to build their business over the long-term, I’m probably not the right person for them.

 

My best advice for business owners looking for prospective marketing consultants to help in growing their business is to listen.

 

Did the consultant prepare for the call?

  • Did they review your website and any relevant social media profiles? Did they do a search to see what information comes up in Google, Bing, etc.?

Did they clarify your needs?

  • Are they making sure they – and you – are clear on your goals and what will be needed to achieve them? This will give you a sense if they are paying attention to your specific situation.

Are their questions insightful?

  • Did you learn something new, or start thinking about your marketing needs differently? Not every conversation needs to have an “aha” moment, but you should be able to walk away from the call with some ideas percolating.

 

A good consultant is going to probe. They’re going to ask the right questions, sometimes tough questions, that dig deep to get to the core issues. By moving past the obvious symptoms and uncovering the root of your marketing challenges, they can:

  • Determine if their expertise and area of focus is right for your business and solving your marketing challenge
  • Address your immediate concerns and recommend solutions that will deliver sustainable results over the long-term

By listening, you’ll get a sense of not only their marketing expertise, but the value they can bring to you and your business.

 

What about those questions you should be asking the consultant?

 

Here are a few that I’d recommend to help get the conversation going and fill in any blanks: 

What is your area of focus?

  • Not all consultants are the same. My focus is on developing strategies for small businesses and solopreneurs – taking a more comprehensive approach to figuring out what to do when. Some consultants specialize in tech, or other industries. And some are specialists in very specific aspects of marketing like branding, SEO, buying advertising, social media, etc.

What types of companies have you worked with before?

  • Sometimes it’s good to have someone who knows your industry inside and out. But, sometimes a fresh perspective is what is needed to push through to the next level. It’s also helpful to know the size of companies a consultant has worked with. Are they used to working with larger companies that have deep resources? Or are they attuned to the realities of a small business?

What is your process?

  • I always start by getting to know your company. Assessing your product or service offerings, target audience, existing plans and materials, and marketing objectives so that I can make informed recommendations to help you reach your goals. But every consultant is different in how they approach a new client relationship. It’s important to be clear on their process up-front.

 Listen to the full interview, “Big or Small: Marketing Matters” here:

And if you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out. I’m sure I’ll have some of my own for you!