3 questions to ask a marketing consultant (before hiring)

Are you finished trying to market your business by your lonesome and are ready to hire a pro? That’s a sound idea – as long as you know how to pick the right person for the job. Hiring a marketing consultant might send your business flying up through the search engines – conversely, it might also not amount to much other than you wasting a bunch of money on their fee.

Before hiring a market consultant, ask them a series of relevant questions and honestly assess their answers – if you feel any of them are wrong, don’t hesitate to keep looking. Here are 3 things to ask to gauge how well of a job they could do.

  1. What is their experience marketing the type of business you’re running? Specific experience isn’t the most important thing, but it can be a big plus. If you own a plumbing business and the marketing consultant you’re hiring has made some plumbers well-known in their area, this professional might have tricks up his sleeve that a ‘plain old’ consultant won’t. Similarly, you’ll want to examine the results they got when they were marketing a business similar to yours – how much did they really accomplish? If you suspect embellishment on their part, don’t hesitate to get in touch with their former clients for confirmation – how much their story differs from that of their former employer will give you a good idea of whether they’re inflating their resume or potentially deflating it.
  2. What is their strategy for your business? A quick glance at your business should give a skilled marketing consultant a good idea of what needs to be done to improve its standing – the best marketing consultants will know where to start after mere minutes of assessing the position of your company. Their answer to this question will tell you a lot: is it a clear-cut and confident one or does it sound more along the lines of “Well, I’ll see what I can do…”? If the latter is the case, it might indicate that they’re not very experienced or aren’t sure how to go about the job. Everyone needs to get experience somewhere, but there’s no reason why your business should act as their training facility.
  3. What are the results I can expect from working with you? Another big one, and one where you’ll also want to pay close attention to the answer. A marketing consultant worth hiring isn’t going to say “I can’t know now, hire me first” – someone who knows their stuff will have a realistic idea of what they can accomplish and will have no problem giving you a glimpse of it. Look for clear answers without a flicker – position on this and this page, recognition here and here, mentions there and there… To make this question more effective, you’d do well to become intimately familiar with your business’ current standing and how it compares to your direct competitors. If your marketing consultant can’t offer to place you shoulder-to-shoulder with them or at least somewhere close, you might want to continue your search.
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