Why should I hire a digital marketing consultant?
A marketing consultant, whether they are an independent contractor or a fully-staffed agency are a worthwhile investment for growing your business, regardless of its size.
The main reason for hiring a digital marketing consultant is to benefit from their experience and knowledge and enable business growth. With the fast pace of changes in the marketing world, it is nearly crucial to hire someone with a level of expertise that can ”take-over” and allow you to focus on your core business instead.
The right marketing advisor (we’ll get into that later) can outline a detailed marketing plan, help determine a business's marketing message and, identify the appropriate marketing mix to get the message out to your target market. All the while, functioning as an unbiased monitor of your marketing efforts and their results continuously, whether they are being performed in-house or externally at the moment. A trusted marketing advisor will have your best business interests at heart and an outsider’s point of view that can help illuminate your path to success.
When to Hire a Marketing Consultant
The subject of hiring an external marketing advisor comes up often when a business reaches a certain tipping point at any stage of its lifecycle. A new business can make use of a marketing consultant to help define a clear company vision and goals, long term marketing plan and shorter-term digital marketing launch strategy.
Any existing business wishing to improve their current performance would benefit from a digital marketing consultant as well. A digital marketing consultant could help construct a focused marketing strategy. Such a marketing strategy can improve on current marketing results in both the long and short term. This might include:
- Defining better success metrics, and how to monitor them to reach desired business goals.
- Focusing on improving relations and loyalty with existing clients while minimizing attrition.
- Continuously working on conversion optimization and implementing growth hacking tactics.
A business seeking to break into new markets and attract new customers would also benefit from a trusted marketing consultant with relevant experience. They would help determine the best market penetration strategy considering the competition and a company’s ability to set and reach realistic goals.
Marketing Consultant Role and Responsibilities
The prime role of marketing consultants is to use their expertise to help businesses define and reach marketing goals. They do this by providing a strategic plan, overseeing or performing its execution and monitoring its results to progress.
Online marketing consultants should have a wide variety of useful skills and knowledge. In order to take on many roles and responsibilities depending on your business needs.
The responsibilities of a digital marketing consultant can include all or any of the following:
- Evaluating your current marketing strategy and identifying new opportunities for your company to expand.
- Customer relations consultant - how to interact with existing clients and innovative ways to attract new ones.
- Auditing, suggesting and/or implementing recommended changes to brand assets and marketing channels such as SEO optimization; Social media presence and engagements; email marketing; website appearance, and performance
- Coordinating your content strategy across platforms and assets to support your KPI’s (leads, sales).
- Improving brand strategy and messaging to increase audience engagement and conversions.
- Preparing reports and marketing presentations.
- Producing necessary marketing materials.
- Setting up technical performance tracking systems, analytics integrations, tracking pixels, CRM, email marketing drip campaigns, etc.
What Skills Should Marketing Consultants Have?
Digital marketing consultants must possess a blend of technical and behavioral skills. They are required to be very creative thinkers, while also being data analysis inclined. Preferably, they should have an educational background in marketing, business or other related fields. At the very least they should have extensive vocational experience in the latter. They must also be methodologically and technical savvy on how to integrate various digital marketing tools and social media platforms, to effectively execute and monitor marketing efforts.
Their scope of knowledge should include:
- Social media marketing and popular social media platforms
- Search engine marketing and search engine optimization
- Reputation management - digital public relations
- Image and brand management
- Consumer behavior and customer psychology
- Analytics tools and marketing software solutions
Professionally, a trusted digital marketing consultant must be able to collect and analyze data and translate it all into actionable insights for your business. The marketing consultant’s action plan will be the measuring stick, with which you not only measure your own marketing success but their success as well. Lastly, your marketing consultant must also be on top of current best practices and digital marketing tactics, as these change dynamically over time.
Personality-wise, a trusted digital marketing consultant will have great ‘people skills’. They are required to be empathetic enough to relate to both your business challenges and your target audience’s pain points (which your business provides a solution for). Your marketing consultant should be a good listener, a problem solver and have leadership qualities when it is called for.
Where to find marketing consultants and how to identify the ones you can trust.
Finding Marketing consultant services of all kinds is easy enough as they are offered across the web everywhere, from search engine results to social media groups and designated Marketplace job boards. The best place to start would be by asking for referrals from other businesses in your industry. Even better advice is to find and contact several (but not too many) marketing consultants simultaneously for bids (to compare offers). Another smart tip is to look for local marketing consultants, as it is easier to work with someone in the same Timezone as you, and holds the same work hours, even more so if you can actually meet in person (still, not a must).
The tricky part is finding a credible and trustworthy digital marketing consultant for your specific business needs, who’ll not only fit your budget and provide results but will also work well with your team. Analyze both your company's needs and the marketing consultant's skills to achieve a good fit before hiring a marketing consultant.
The following are 5 steps to take in order to successfully hire a marketing consultant:
Decide what sort of marketing expertise your require
Right from the start work on defining what areas of expertise you are looking for, based on your industry, business size, marketing challenges, and channels. This will help you narrow down your search to more relevant candidates. Also, be sure to ask your candidates about their relevant experience to corroborate their ratings and professional profile information.
Define your success story
By pre-defining what you hope to achieve with the assistance of your marketing consultant, you will be able to track and measure success. Looking to generate more qualified leads? Set a goal number. Looking to grow your social media engagement? Define the desired engagement rate.
Vet your digital marketer’s credibility to deliver your KPIs
Be sure to select a marketing consultant with a history of delivering the results you'd like to achieve. Feel free to ask them to provide examples of their previous successes. A trusted marketing consultant should have these readily available. Verify if they have been active in the past year, as a reflection of their grasp of the most current best-practices.
Take a test-drive
Digital marketing advisors will offer a free initial consultation in hopes of gaining your business. These are great opportunities for you to get a feel for your potential work-chemistry and to test the relevance of their knowledge to your industry, type of business, target market, marketing goals, etc.). Another option, if possible, is to hire a marketing consultant on a short-term project, before hiring them for a large project.
The Scope of Work
Clearly define the work-relationship expectation you have from your marketing consultant. What will your work process be? How often do you expect progress reports? how will the planning and executing be distributed between your advisor and your team?. Also, to be included here is payment: will you be paying a monthly retainer, hourly rate results from derivative or some form of a mix of them all?. These all should be throughout and agreed upon before starting to work with your digital marketing consultant.
Working well with a marketing consultant
Hiring a marketing advisor, as in any business relationship requires properly defining the boundaries and expectations of your trusted alliance. Are you hiring a consultant who’ll perform one-off tasks; manage marketing campaigns; or a deeper problem solver who’ll offer advice and identify opportunities as part of a broader marketing strategy? Your work relationship can of course change over time. As your consultant proves themselves trustworthy and professional, you might deepen the relationship and increase their scope of work and the level of influence their decisions have.
4 tips for working well with a digital marketing consultant
Be clear and cooperative
avoid misunderstandings before they occur by setting clear work expectations for the work process and desired results, time frame for achieving them, etc. Make note, that this is a two-way street and that your marketing consultant will have expectations from you as well, that will enable them to do their job.
Value good work and reward it with kind feedback, pay on time and continuously motivate your consultant to be proactive and offer advice beyond their originally defined scope of work, they might have very helpful insights from a semi-external point of view.
Even if you get along really well with your marketing advisor, always remain focused on their results and whether they are still proving their worth. Your business and marketing results should continuously grow, and your marketing consultants should continue working toward that.
Once you have decided to put your trust in your hired marketing consultant give it a real chance. Be patient and have faith that their process will get you the results you expect.
Marketing is the growth engine of your business and it can be difficult to keep up with the changing trends and best-practices that you should be applying. Hiring a marketing consultant you can trust is a great solution that can quickly impact your business’s bottom line.
Finding the right marketing consultant for your business’s current needs is a key success factor when hiring one. Before hiring a consultant It is important to clearly define what your business marketing needs and goals are (KPI’s to measure success). When looking to hire a marketing expert, be sure to thoroughly vet your candidate’s experience, knowledge, availability, and price. Once you have decided to proceed and hire someone, you’ll need to establish and maintain a good work relationship. Only then will you be able to reap the benefits in the long - term as well.