Monday, 17 June 2013

Hiring A Marketing Consultant: What To Consider

In today’s competitive marketplace, business owners can no longer expect to be able to manage every aspect of their business themselves. Indeed, it’s considered intelligent to outsource particularly important functions to experts. Marketing is a case in point: every company today needs a solid marketing strategy in place, but this is by no means as easy to develop as you might think. There are now so many different techniques for marketing a business that it often requires a specialist in the field to do it properly. But what do you need to consider if you’re looking for a marketing consultant to get your company noticed by your target audience?

Identify Your Goals: Before you start interviewing any potential marketing consultants to hire, you need to decide exactly what you want to achieve. This way you will be able to communicate your needs effectively. For example, do you want to increase your visibility online; are you looking to break into new market sectors or do you want to expand your sales network further afield. As with any kind of service, different consultants will have different specialist skills so your needs will help to dictate who you choose.

Get Referrals: You will be able to find plenty of consultants in your area if you do an online search, but how do you know which are worth your time? The best thing to do, once you have a list of possibilities, is ask around your professional network to find out which ones people have used and which brought them real results. Word of mouth really means something in this field, so you should use it. You can try looking at online reviews as well, although it’s always best, when possible, to get the opinion of someone you know and trust.

Interviewing: Once you’ve completed the above steps you should have been able to compile a shortlist of at least three consultants. At this point you can make an appointment with each one to discuss your ideas for your business and find out how they could help you.

There are several points you should remember to bring up during these talks: what experience do they have in your particular field; what kind of strategy might they employ for you; and do they have any contacts with business networks that could be useful to you? You should ask them to describe their processes in a way that you can understand, and ask to see examples of previous projects they have worked on. They should be able to show you some concrete results that prove they have enhanced a company’s reputation or visibility.

Be Aware: Finally, you should know when it’s best to avoid a certain consultant. Anyone who makes you unrealistic promises or offers you a ‘foolproof’ strategy is not to be trusted. Any good consultant knows that successful marketing takes time to implement and not everything will work every time. You should also make sure that you discuss and confirm costs before you sign anything so you can be sure you are not going to be charged for any undisclosed ‘extras’ further down the line.

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