10 Must Ask Questions Before Hiring A Marketing Consultant

5 May, 2013

www.perfectsmoke.orgYou’ve worked hard at growing your business: the foundation is built, the systems are in place and you have some budget set aside for marketing. You know that it’s not your core strength and you’re open to some outside help. Now what? How do you find marketing help that is effective, affordable and right for your business?

These 10 questions will help you select the most suitable marketing consultant to ensure that what you get is right on target.

1.  What is your marketing background, and qualifications?

There are a lot of people who claim to be marketing experts, but honestly, there’s a lot that marketing is not: a logo or a press release, a blog or a website, a social media presence or a table at a trade fair. Marketing is about developing an overall strategy that considers every aspect of the buying and communications cycle and makes the core message work for the intended target audience. Make sure the consultant you hire has in-depth experience in the full ambit of marketing, not just one speciality area. The best demonstration of a marketer’s competence is references and a portfolio of recent work.

2. How many clients do you work with at one time?

In all fairness, a marketing consultant earns their living by servicing different clients at the same time. But if at any stage during your preliminary discussions with them you feel rushed, or notice that their work is sloppy, it may be that they’re juggling too many balls.

 3. What is the longest time you’ve worked with any one client?

If the marketing consultant provides ongoing services, then it’s credible that they may have worked with at least one client for 1-2 years. On the other hand, where marketing projects are once off or can be executed in-house, the consultant might only work with a client for a few months.

 4. What industries do you focus on?

In most cases a marketing consultant will have a few areas of speciality. It’s rare that they can be a player across the board. Yes, ultimately the same marketing principles apply, but a deep understanding of certain industries means they’re starting at a higher level, and don’t have to learn new things before they start.

 5. Who are your top competitors and why should I choose you over them?

This question will give you insight into how your marketing consultant views him or herself. It’s interesting to see whom they pitch themselves against and their point of differentiation. Your marketing consultant – of all people – should know what makes them special, different and better. If they say they have no competitors, beware.

6. How will you make sure I don’t waste money reaching the wrong people?

The first question you should be asked in return is whom you’d like to attract. Once you’ve defined this, then your consultant can give you general ways to attract these audiences. It’s entirely acceptable that these methods will be refined once the consultant has more knowledge about your business and has polished your communications plan.

7. How soon can I expect to get inquiries from prospective clients?

In reality, this depends on the type of services you’re offering, the prospective clients you’re trying to reach and how long it takes those prospects to make decisions.

8. How will you measure the success of the marketing campaign?

Here the marketer must show you how the campaign will work, what targets will be set and the results you can expect within a certain time frame. For data driven campaigns e.g. inbound marketing, results are easier to show than awareness and image-driven campaigns e.g. public relations, where measurement criteria are a little wooly.

9. What do you think of our marketing efforts so far?

Look for someone who is frank and gives their considered yet honest opinion.

10. How do you charge and what are your payment terms?

Some marketing consultants will charge by project, others by the hour, which usually depends on the campaign or the duration of it. Neither is right or wrong. If you’re being charged by the hour, you need to make sure you get regular timesheets and invoices. In addition to this, project milestones – for example when a website will be ready – should be communicated up front and invoice amounts per milestone negotiated. It’s also common for marketing consultants to charge a deposit of up to 50% of the project amount.

Did you ‘click’ with the marketing consultant? Do they share the same values? It’s important that they understand how you work and what’s important to you but equally, if you have a good understanding of their personality and values, you’re more likely to appreciate the ideas they put on the table.

This is a relationship you want to nurture over a long period of time, so finding the right person for the job is key to your brand value.

Image: www.perfectsmoke.org

Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.