This blog is not to blow my own trumpet and tell you that I am the perfect Marketing Consultant for you.
No single person can ever confess to being the perfect fit and I don’t try to be everyone’s cup of tea – but I do feel the need to help people understand what skills to look out for when they are about to invest their money in marketing.
The skills of a marketing consultant can range hugely from a social media expert, to an SEO guru, through to a marketing strategist that helps plan business growth.
What each person can offer you is generally driven by the experience they have built up over the years, with technologies they have specialised in and sectors that they have dedicated their time.
So let’s take a look.
What you should look out for
A marketing consultant should have a really good understanding of what makes a successful business stand out.
This doesn’t mean knowledge from getting a degree, reading a whole host of books and marketing theory, but they have applied it to their business and their clients companies with a fantastic success rate.
A good marketing consultant should have a range of experience in different areas of expertise, as they should be advising you of the bigger picture.
A great marketing consultant should know their own strengths and weaknesses and be honest when selling their skills to you – we can’t all know everything and business growth is a huge subject.
Here’s a brief list of what marketing covers:
- Social media
- Emerging digital technologies
- Graphic Design and branding
Great marketing consultants should also have a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of running a business, which must include:
- How to launch a business successfully
- How to generate retained income
- How to use your budget wisely
- How to form long lasting relationships for your business growth
- The human resource basics as most of the new technologies we introduce have a direct impact on staff and their morale
- Have an excellent understanding of operational challenges when you generate interest from more customers than you bargained for
- In-depth understanding about finances and reporting so you know what is working and what isn’t
Our industry moves on far too quickly for anyone to be an expert in all areas of digital marketing. Make sure who-ever you are working with has a trusted and proven network of professionals that they can call on if they need to bring in a specialist skill.
Off-the-shelf solutions are the bain of my life.
Half the time when I first reach a new client I am mopping up the problems caused by a one-sized fits all solution that someone has previously tried to shoehorn them into.
These packages might be easier to buy and get our heads around initially, but they cause a whole host of problems when you try to apply them to very individual business challenges.
If the marketing consultant that you are working with hasn’t got a unique approach that will benefit your specific business then walk away quickly.
The proof is in the pudding
Always do your homework before you start working with someone that advises you to make very important changes in your business.
Make sure that they have a good success rate, have the testimonials from happy clients to back it up and have a loyal customer base that stays with them.
I’m incredibly proud to say I still have the very first customer that I started out with 5 years ago. Although my service and pricing has changed and their business has grown to include global clients, we both work fantastically together as we understand the business goals and tools to ramp up to the next stage.
Signs of long-lasting relationships with clients say a great deal about a marketing consultants ethics and values, so always ask to have a chat with at least 3 people that you know they have worked with in the past.
Go with your instinct
At the end of the day people buy from people and we are all thankfully gifted with very different personalities.
If you have completed your due diligence and you get on really well with your new marketing consultant then you should have a great relationship going forward. Remember they will need to know very intimate details about your company, so it’s much better to have an enjoyable journey than pulling teeth!
Just make sure that there are clear goals and expectations from both parties at the start of your project together, so you can measure the success of their work over a given period.
If things are going a little off piste then try and have a chat early on, don’t let bad communication fester, as problems that are nipped in the bud at the start are much easier to rectify.
Find someone who is dedicated and passionate
I do what I do because I because I genuinely love helping people.
It might sound cheesy but it’s true. I didn’t go into marketing because I wanted to make a lot of money – thankfully as it’s one of the most time-consuming careers you will have. As most great marketing consultants will know the amount of hours you have to put in through personal development, study, reading and practice, the marketing discipline is a career that will consume a huge chunk of your life.
However, I do feel like I am pretty lucky because I get out of bed every morning excited and get a huge buzz out of helping others succeed.
I also understand what it is like to be passionate about my business and run a company in a very competitive market with tight overheads, staff and forecasted goals to hit.
If you are working with a consultant that hasn’t had this level of responsibility then just be careful, as they won’t understand the implications that their advice could bring across the whole of your business.
From personal experience
I didn’t fall into marketing – I completed a marketing degree over 10 years ago and although I achieved a 1st I can quite frankly say that it was useless.
At the time I thought it was the right thing to do and it has opened doors for me but studying for exams wasn’t the best use of my time.
Luckily for me I saw the opportunity to understand people from an early age. You see it’s not qualifications, accreditations or boards that people pay to be a member of that I admire.
Successful people have something about them that you don’t see everyday and over the years of working with these people I have enjoyed learning all about them, their businesses and how they make incredible things happen in a short time frame.
Watching and learning from others is a brilliant way to ramp up your own success much faster than they did whilst avoiding the shortfalls they have faced.
Over to you
Have you hired a marketing consultant before? What was the most valuable thing you learnt from working with them? Comment below and share your thoughts.