It would have been easy to just write a thinly veiled sales article talking about our services and how we totally embody the attributes of a perfect marketing consultant. Instead, we decided to write an impartial guide that would really be of benefit to our readers.
I’ve been in this business for more than 10 years, which means that I’ve seen and worked with every kind of marketing consultant, from the good to the terrible, and in that time I’ve learned which attributes really count in a marketing expert.
I’ve shared this experience with you so that you can make an informed, intelligent choice and pick a marketing consultant who is right for you and your business – one who will give your brand the boost it needs and help you reach the next level of growth and success.
1. Practical Experience
The most important thing you need to look for is experience.
It is very easy to come across as an expert by spouting off all the latest marketing jargon and buzzwords, but if your marketing consultant can’t understand your business and identify what you really need, they won’t make much impact where it counts – your profit margins.
Extensive practical experience across a wide range of industries is a great sign they have the strategic chops necessary to give your business a big boost, and that their skills have been tried, tested and proven in a number of different circumstances.
As well as this, you need to ensure that your marketing consultant has real experience of implementing marketing strategies for brands like yours.
Knowing how to effectively put a strategy into place is crucial, and your consultant will need be able to show you how to take theoretical marketing techniques and transform them into profit-making real-life successes.
At Grow, we support our clients in finding good part-time marketers to help implement our strategies.
To get an idea of the kind of experience a marketing consultant has, make sure that you give all of their client testimonials a thorough read:
- Take note of what concrete results they have achieved for past clients, such as increased profits and other measurable statistics
- Find out how many companies they have worked with, and what kind of industries those companies operated in
This may sound like a lot of information to have to dig up on a marketing consultant, but all of it should be readily available on their website. Marketing strategists, consultants and analysts will always understand the importance of social proof, so if they don’t have client testimonials and case studies readily available, this could be an issue.
2. They Understand Digital Marketing
It’s important that your marketing consultant understands digital marketing and its potential.
Modern marketing is about attracting customers rather than chasing them down, so by choosing an expert who has digital expertise, they may be able to identify huge opportunities for your business that will help it grow in new ways.
You should choose someone who has an excellent understanding of SEO, PPC and social media at a minimum. After all, it is their job to recommend actions that drive the biggest return for investment.
Remember, just because a marketing consultant has expertise in all of these areas, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your business will need to adopt them.
A good marketer is like a good chef – they have a kitchen full of hundreds of ingredients, but they only need a few, in the right combination, to create a great dish.
So, before committing to a marketing consultant, make sure that you get a good idea of their level of digital expertise. There are a lot of charlatans out there, so make sure that your consultant can back up their expertise with concrete results.
For example, if you type “marketing consultancy” into Google we’ll show up on page 1 (in the UK). Our SEO has been successful in the long term and has not been damaged by the Google algorithm updates because we know what we are doing. Make sure that whoever you have chosen does too!
3. Look at Their Website Copy
Copy and content is the heart and soul of any website. No amount of flashy animations or design gimmicks will ever beat expertly crafted sales copy, at least in terms of selling and converting visitors into customers.
This is why it’s really important that the person you choose is capable of writing truly compelling sales pages that make you want to take action.
By reading everything on their website, you should get a good idea of how developed their copywriting skills are. When you’re reading their sales copy keep in mind:
- Does it “speak to the pain” and address my key issues and problems?
- Is it benefit driven – does it clearly show me how I will benefit from their services?
- Is it compelling – do I feel compelled to take action and find out more about their services?
4. Look at Their LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is without doubt one of the biggest forces in B2B selling and recruitment today. It is an invaluable way to prospect customers, look for careers and reach out to peers.
As a result, any reputable marketer should be active on LinkedIn and have a fantastic LinkedIn profile that is just as compelling as the sales copy on their website – after all, if they can’t sell themselves, how are they meant to sell your product or service?
As well as being a good indicator of their ability to market and sell themselves, LinkedIn Recommendations also give you another opportunity to see what past clients and peers have to say about your marketing consultant.
LinkedIn Recommendations can be more genuine than testimonials, as they are unedited and are attributed to someone. They also tend to come from peers who really understand what they’re talking about, as opposed to clients who may not have the same level of insight.
5. Try Before You Buy
There’s more to finding the right business partner than just finding the most skilled person. Your relationship should be something akin to a partnership, so it’s important that there’s chemistry between you both and that you get along.
There will be disagreements along the road, so it’s also important that you trust them and know that they have your best interests at heart.
Therefore, it’s important that you have an opportunity to see how your marketing consultant works and thinks before you commit to anything. Obviously, the marketer isn’t going to give everything away for free, but some sort of free consultation should give you the opportunity to see if you are on the same page, and that the marketer has the know-how to back up their claims.
There are two things you should look out for during a free consultation:
- You have to make sure that they “get” your business and understand your product and philosophy
- You need to hear some of their ideas, to see how they think and find out how they approach marketing
For example, we structure our 1-to-1 sessions around a free 30-minute consult, followed by a longer, paid consultation, which comes with a no-strings-attached money-back guarantee if the client isn’t satisfied. This way, our clients get to try us out and get a feel for how we work, with zero risk on their part.
6. Read Their Content
These days, good marketers should have an active blog and a free giveaway, or some other form of free online content. Content is not only a fantastic way for a marketer to generate leads, but it also allows potential customers to get a good idea of their expertise and the way they look at the tools at their disposal.
Their online content will demonstrate their approach to many different aspects of marketing, and will also give you an opportunity to gauge their ability, understanding and knowledge, as well as extra insight into what they think about various marketing techniques.
It is also worth signing up to their email newsletter. Email is a perfect blend of sales copy and content, and so will give you an insightful look into their marketing techniques.
7. Find out What Their Key Areas of Expertise Are
All marketers are going to focus on different things and will have different areas of expertise, so it’s important that you have a clear idea of what skills you want in your marketing consultant before you start looking.
For example, we have quite a wide range of skills, focused mainly on digital marketing, as well as tried and tested traditional methods of marketing. But even we have less experience in handling direct mail campaigns.
Other marketers may focus on a much narrower field than us, and that’s fine, too. This doesn’t mean that they are any more or less able than marketers with wider skill sets, it just means that they have chosen to specialise in different areas.
This in turn means that they are likely a real authority in their chosen specialist field, which is more suitable for a company who knows exactly what area of marketing they want to pursue. For example a company who are interested solely in improving their SEO would be better off hiring a renowned SEO expert, rather than an all-rounder.
On the other hand, a marketer with a wider range of skills will be able to put together a more holistic, complete strategy for a business that perhaps doesn’t have such a specific marketing aim. For most businesses, a wider knowledge base is best, as it means that you can use a wider selection of marketing methods.
8. Are You Looking For a Marketing Consultant or an Agency?
Some business owners get confused about what a marketing consultant actually does. A marketing consultant puts together a strategic marketing plan, and helps businesses start to implement it. What they don’t do is implement the marketing.
This is where agencies come in. A marketing agency will actually handle all of your marketing for you, so you don’t have to worry about it at all.
However, there are a number of huge drawbacks to using an agency:
1. Effective agencies are very expensive. You need to be sure that your increased revenue will offset the cost of the agency in the first place. As well as this, some marketing techniques require a long time before they become effective, which means that you can end up paying money for a much longer period of time than you anticipated.
2. A bad agency can do more harm than good. Finding a good marketing consultant is very important, as if you go with someone who is incompetent, it can mean that you have wasted your money. However, when you start using agencies the stakes are raised considerably.
Because the agency will have complete, autonomous control of your marketing, it means that any mistakes they make can be much more devastating for your business. We’ve had clients who have chosen to work with bad agencies and have subsequently seen their websites removed from Google listings and social media accounts closed due to spamming, because their agencies didn’t understand what they were doing.
3. Using an agency means that you’ll never learn how to market yourself. We run a monthly online marketing workshop at the British Library. It is specifically designed for small business owners who don’t have an in-depth knowledge of marketing.
However, as well as being attended by SME owners, we’ve found that it is well attended by CEOs and heads of multi-million pound companies who are interested in learning more about marketing and gaining an understanding of what their marketing teams are doing.
They do this because they know that if they know what they are doing, they are in a better position to hire excellent marketers. By having an understanding of digital marketing, it means that you won’t get duped by a disingenuous “SEO expert” or “social media guru”.
Therefore, choosing between an agency and a consultant is not to be taken lightly, but it is worth remembering that by choosing a consultant, you will not only improve your business’s marketing, you will also hugely improve your own knowledge of marketing, through working with the consultant. This means that as your business progresses, you will be a position to make informed, intelligent marketing decisions without having to hire anyone.
To find out more about what Grow can offer your company, do read our marketing consultancy page (be sure to cast a critical eye over our copy!) and why not see what past clients have to say about us on our testimonials page.
Whilst you’re at it, make sure you have a gander at our other blog posts to make sure that our expertise is up to scratch!
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