January 27, 2019
Hire a marketing consultant whom you can trust.
By Maureen McCabe
Firstly, not all marketing consultants are the same; each offers different services and proven experience. As you likely don’t have the time or expertise to develop and steer your marketing initiatives, do you know what your business needs to boost your brand? Is it a marketing strategy, plan, a campaign that is implemented for you or something else?
Based on visiting their website to learn what they offer and checking them out online (by Googling their name, business name, and reading online reviews) they might seem great. But it doesn’t mean that they will be the right fit for your company. To hire the right consultant, consider the following:
1. Marketing Specialty
- What are the types and sizes of organizations that they have worked with?
- Do they specialize in working with small businesses, start-ups (less than two years), entrepreneurs with an idea, mid-size organizations, large enterprises, non-profits, or are they a generalist?
2. Marketing Services Delivered
Because marketing consultants may appear to provide the same services and level of expertise, before you put them on your shortlist, make sure the services offered are what you need.
- Do they have a website page that overviews their services?
- Is there a page for each type of service delivered with examples?
- Do they execute the campaign with an experienced team, partner or just outsource the work?
3. Experience and Customer Audiences
- What is their experience helping companies who target consumers (B2C), businesses (B2B) and non-profit organizations? Why is this important? Because the strategies and key messages resonate differently with each audience type.
- How many years have they delivered marketing results as a marketing consultant or was it for an employer?
- Is this their full-time career or are they freelancing while searching for a job?
TIP 1: Look at their LinkedIn profile.
4. Reputation, Reviews, and Results
TIP 2: Evaluate reviews for authenticity.
Is it realistic that they have only “5-star” reviews on their Google Business page? Probably not. How many of the reviewers have written only one review? Do they convey the trust and confidence needed to hire them?
TIP 3: Transparency
Is their pricing posted on their website? Is there a client profile page?
- Beware of consultants who use well-recognized logos. For example, do you believe they worked for RE/MAX Canada, a brokerage, or a real estate agent? If it’s the latter, why didn’t they display the agent’s logo?
- Is there a client list with a description of each company and link to the respective website?
- Do they feel that the testimonials on their website are real or are they essentially all the same? Do you wonder if the reviews were written by the consultant?
5. Adaptability and Flexibility
Is the marketing consultant stuck in the past or is their ear to the ground aware of the latest marketing innovations and technologies? Expect professional marketers to lead by example and follow best practices.
- How often do they blog? Not having one is unacceptable.
- If they don’t have a LinkedIn profile, please ask them why. Ditto for a Facebook company page versus a personal Facebook profile.
- Do they have a LinkedIn company page and Google Business profile that displays their address?
- What other social media do they use?
- Do they post and share regularly on social media?
6. The Interview (Free Consultation)
By interviewing a marketing consultant, you will gain insight into what it would be like to work with them. Describe your needs and observe if they listen to you. Questions to ask:
- Have they helped clients with similar needs?
- Do they provide ideas without detailed specifics? Expect them to share a few high-level ideas; they won’t give away the “goods” in the initial consultation otherwise you won’t need to hire them.
- Have they been sued by a client?
- Is their schedule flexible? If you’re busy working in your business during the day, are they available for an occasional evening or weekend phone conversation?
- Will they visit you at your office or do you prefer to go to theirs?
- Are you an ideal client and the right fit for their business model?
- What are the recommended next steps: a scope of work meeting, a second conversation or something else?
What to expect in the no-charge marketing advice conversation – the consultation.
Savvy marketers want to quickly identify prospects versus tire kickers. They have given many “free consultations” that have not led to business; they don’t expect to win every opportunity even if you’re an ideal client. Like you, they want to determine if you’re the right fit and will want to understand the following:
- What are your objectives and needs?
- What has worked and not worked with examples of past marketing initiatives?
- If you are the decision maker or at a minimum the key influencer.
- The size of your budget and timeline to make a decision.
In the end, your decision will likely come down to your gut. Do you trust and want to work with them in the long term?
Explore what McCabe Marketing delivers. Book a phone consultation with a small business marketing specialist to see if we’re the right fit. Expect us to be candid from the outset. We’ll let you know if you’re an ideal client and if our team has the skill set and hands-on experience needed to boost your brand.
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