As an entrepreneur, there will likely come a time that you feel the need to hire a small business marketing consultant to help with marketing an growing your business. There are many reputable agencies that offer consultant services; the key is finding the right agency for you.
Here are some tips on how to choose a marketing consultant for your small business.
Questions to Ask
There are several questions that you definitely want to ask any prospective marketing consultant – and some that you definitely want to avoid. Let’s take a look at the things that you should ask when you first begin discussions with various marketing firms.
Just as you would any other service provider or employee, you need to find out what sort of references your marketing consultant has. Get a list of references and don’t be afraid to use them. You are going to be spending a lot of time, and possibly a lot of money, with your small business marketing consultant and you want to make sure that he or she can do the job. Always ask for and check references.
Though marketing consultants cannot release other client’s actual marketing plans, they can release case studies of work they have done. Most reputable marketing firms will have case studies on hand and ready for viewing. Taking a look at these case studies can help you to understand what sort of work this firm or individual consultant is capable of. This can help to give you an idea of how they might be able to help your company. Ask for case studies that are similar to your needs, if possible. This is a great way to get a feel for the person you are hiring.
Without being too brazen there definitely is some room for personality questions. Use questions similar to those you would ask during an interview with a potential employee. This is simply to see if you and your potential marketer are a good fit. As I’ve mentioned before, you are going to be spending quite a bit of time together. You do not want to get involved with someone who you will clash with constantly or you feel does not belong with your company.
Furthermore, make sure that the person you are planning to work with has no issues with your company. This is rarely a problem but some small businesses might not fit well with a certain marketer for whatever personal reason. It is important to make sure you are getting a good vibe from the marketing consultant and that he or she feels comfortable as potential marketer for your business. This can be accomplished with focused questions and in-person interviews before hiring. This is especially important if you work in a business that is controversial.
What Not to Ask For
So you know what to ask when choosing your new marketing consultant. Make sure that he or she is a good fit for you and your business, make sure that you feel comfortable with this person and that she seems comfortable with you. Always check references and ask for case studies.
Now, for the things you should not ask.
Samples of Marketing Plans
As I briefly mentioned earlier, you do not want to ask for an actual marketing plan that was used for someone else’s business. If you do, a reputable company will refuse because this is confidential. If they do not refuse and send you one anyway, then you should immediately realize that your confidential information may be sent out next. You would probably want to avoid this marketing consultant.
A Media or Marketing Plan for Your Business Upon Interview
Though the small business marketing consultant will most likely give you a run down on what she plans to do for your business, she won’t show up to an interview with a plan ready to go. Any good consultant will need to spend time with you, getting to know your business and doing a bit of research before she can customize a plan suitable for your particular business.