Businesses are often split between whether to hire new marketing personnel in-house, or to hire a freelancing marketing consultant. Are they safe? Are they worth the money? There are plenty of questions to ask. And you should. If marketing consultants know anything, it is how to promote themselves.
To get to the point early, the effectiveness of marketing consultants is highly controversial. Some companies, and of course the consultants themselves, vehemently claim that companies do need a marketing consultant at least once a year. Then there are others who say these “experts” are nothing but a waste of money. Most companies do not know for sure until one is hired. Even then, it can be hard to calculate the return for the investment.
Who are Marketing Consultants Anyway?
Let’s take a step back and consider who marketing consultants are in the first place. They are generally professionals who offer to drive conversion rates, traffic rates and branding appeal up for companies. Most marketing consultants call themselves “experts.” Some of the well experienced ones are truly experts with their own online newsletters. But others are just people who couldn’t land a permanent job and are not freelancing.
What a marketing consultant can do for your company will depend on what your company needs. Does your existing marketing team need assistance from an experienced professional? Or do you want additional labor for your marketing team? There are times and reasons to hire a consultant, and also not hire one. Read ahead to find out when you should and shouldn’t hire a marketing consultant.
When to Hire a Marketing Consultant
This is a tricky one. It all depends on the type and size of your business. Generally speaking, if your company has zero marketing employees, then you would not have any choice but to hire a consultant or a freelance marketing professional. You may also encounter trouble between hiring a freelancer and contracting with a marketing agency. In any case, here are several reasons that justify hiring a marketing consultant:
Your In-House Marketing Team is Inexperienced
Small businesses more often than not assemble in-house marketing teams full of recent grads. This is cheaper considering that experienced professionals cost a lot more. If you do have a relatively inexperienced team, a marketing consultant will be able to offer valuable guidance and pointers. If your in-house team is running a rather important campaign, calling in a consultant in the middle of it may help. Or it could completely disrupt the process. So think carefully when you hire outsiders to guide your team.
When Your Marketing Strategy Needs Evaluation
An outsider perspective is crucial to the success of many project management tips, and marketing is no exception. If your company needs to evaluate the ongoing strategy and look for ways to improve, it will be immensely beneficial to hire an outsider. Of course, make sure that the consultant you hire is very professional and trustworthy.
There are several other advantages to hiring an outside marketing consultant beyond the obvious perspective issue. Freelancers, especially, often work with multiple companies and tend to know the industry really well. So, an outside consultant will be able to tell your how your marketing campaigns are faring compared to the competition. Names will probably not get mentioned, but you will get a solid general analysis. Plus, the consultant will be able to give your team some pointers on how to steer the strategy in light of advancing technology and changing consumer demands. This type of advise is invaluable. If your team has little capability of doing these evaluations by itself, hiring a marketing consultant will be paramount.
When Your Marketing Strategy is Neglected
You will know when your marketing strategy is neglected. Your Twitter feed will stall, no one will comment on your company’s Facebook feed, and the number of new customers visiting your official website will drop. This level of neglect will eventually spell death for your company. Small businesses and one-person shows are highly prone to neglected marketing. If you are doing the books, providing customer service, coming up with new products and also the chief marketer for your business, of course the promotional aspects will get neglected. Hiring a marketing agency or at least a temporary freelancer will help the daily upkeep of necessary marketing tasks.
When Expert Help Comes in a Package
Some business consultancy firms, like Global Resources LLC, also offer marketing and promotional solutions in the overall package. If you are hiring a productivity consultant, for example, you may also get a marketing consultant for free. In that case, it will help to pay some extra for marketing advice as well. Also, if your business is in the habit of hiring outside consultants annually, try to get an all-in-one package including marketing to save money.
When You Don’t Know How to Do the Research Yourself
Most business owners don’t realize the sort of research that goes into marketing. You also need to consult a lot of surveys. This sort of thing is not cheap or fast. When your company needs to do keyword research, conduct scientific consumer feedback surveys or specifically calculate ROI for an advertising channel, a marketing consultant will be an asset, not a liability. Usually only larger businesses have ace teams that can handle it all. If your business is small or medium sized, a marketing consultant will be able to carry out highly technical tasks at a rate you can afford.
When to Avoid Hiring a Marketing Consultant
Interestingly enough, even some former marketing consultants are against small businesses hiring marketing consultants. For example, even other former marketers observe that marketing firms often promise the world to small businesses especially and enter into worthless contracts. Yes, your company could end up in this situation. So, here are the reasons NOT to hire a marketing consultant:
When You are Looking for Miracle Workers
As certain experts put it, marketing consultants are not miracle workers. A marketing consultant may be able to set up a blog for your company or increase traffic to a website. However, if your business model is bad or if you have not done a customer needs analysis, then there’s nothing the consultant can do. Do not think that a marketing consultant will be able to turn your business around. They absolutely cannot. What they can do is fix your marketing strategy or offer occasional advice. It’s up to you to fix low sales numbers or bad customer relations.
When You Only Need Basic Things to be Done
There’s no point in hiring a marketing consultant to update your Twitter feed. Consultants, after all, cost a lot of money. While you have to hire a marketing agency to conduct day to day tasks, as mentioned above, don’t hire an expensive firm or a person for basic things even an intern can do. Updating social media does not require technical expertise. You can hire the consultant for advice on how to improve your social media message. If you want someone to actually do the updating, hire an intern or an assistant.
When They Promise to Move Your Site to #1 in Google Search Results…In a Week
It’s easy to fall for seriously exaggerated marketing claims. Do not trust any consultants who promise to move your company’s Google ranking to number one, or promise to increase your web traffic by 500% in one week. A serious marketing consultant would never make outrageous claims such as this. The results a marketing consultant can get for your company will depend on how your company is already. If you are buried in page 50 in Google rankings for your keyword, you will not move to the first page overnight. It will require hard work, time and dedication.
Also, blindingly driving traffic to your web page is not enough to actually increase the conversion rate. Certain marketing “consultants” may place clickbait ads on your company’s behalf. This ad targeting may drive traffic temporarily, but is actually damaging on the long run. You will not reach your core audience with these ads, and your brand name will get associated with spam. So, think soberly about claims made by marketing consultants. You should only hire highly reputable firms or personnel. Make sure you read reviews and ask your business friends for recommendations before hiring anyone.
When They Try to Lock You into a Contract
When you show interest in hiring a marketing consultant or agency, are the first words out of their mouth trying to get you to sign a contract? If this is the case, avoid the person or agency. Some marketing consultants try to secure clients with prolonged but restrictive contracts. You could end up paying for the consultant even when you don’t need to. So, it’s best to ask a consultant to work on a single project at the beginning. Once you get to know the person or the agency, then you can consider a long-term relationship.
To Hire or Not to Hire
It all depends on your needs as mentioned before. Consider all the pros and cons mentioned above. Are your needs mentioned in the lists above? Can you identify what your company needs? Educate yourself first and then you will know whether your business really needs a marketing consultant or not.
Image from http://www.reztechmedia.com/why-your-small-business-should-consider-hiring-a-marketing-consultant-in-2016/