If you’re a small business owner and have decided that trying to handle marketing on your own while running a business is no longer a good idea, you’re in good company! There are many reasons why small businesses should outsource their marketing; it simply makes good business sense at the end of the day. However, before you make that commitment, there are a few things you as a business owner should understand to ensure that your experience with a marketing consultant is a good one. Here is what you should know before hiring a marketing consultant.

Know what your goals are

Simply hiring a marketing consultant without any goals in mind and how to measure ROI is going to lead to a disappointing experience for everyone. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want more sales? More leads? More traffic to your website? New marketing collateral? A new website? Just like any transaction, if you come unprepared, you are setting yourself up to be very disappointed. Write out exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish and how you’ll measure those results. When you start talking to prospective marketing consultants, make sure they understand what your expectations are and how you’ll be measuring success.

Find an experienced and reputable marketing professional

There is no shortage of “marketing gurus” out there, but which ones actually know what they’re doing?  Do your homework to find an experienced small business marketing consultant to ensure you get the best results. Here are a few ways to weed out the sketchy characters and find the right person:

  • Review their website
  • Look at their professional profiles such as LinkedIn
  • Read client testimonials
  • Ask to speak with current clients
  • Ask other people for a referral
  • Go look at how they market themselves as well as their clients
  • Understand their areas of expertise

Speaking of expertise, marketing is a dynamic animal. You want someone who is well-versed on all aspects of marketing. Don’t be afraid to ask them how their marketing philosophy evolved, and how does it change/react to new ways of doing things. Remember, you’re looking for a marketing professional that knows what they’re doing and will get you results!

marketing contractRead the fine print

A reputable marketing consultant will provide you with a formal contract and scope of work to get the program started. They’ll usually include some legal terms that speak to the length of the contract, cancellation process, and indemnification from future lawsuits. Be sure you read these terms, as they are legally binding once you sign. Read the fine print so you’re not locked into something you can’t get out of later.

Protect yourself once the work starts

You finally found the marketing consultant that’s going to help your business grow, but don’t let your guard down once the contract is signed! Here are a few things you need to do to protect yourself and make sure you’re getting what you paid for:

  • Make sure you own all your own accounts – so many small businesses ask their marketing consultants to set up accounts for them such as Google Analytics, domain registration, email marketing and more. Make sure that any account they create for you is YOURS and that you have access to it whenever you want. There are numerous horror stories of small businesses that fire their consultant, only to find they don’t own their domain or don’t have access to any of their accounts. Make sure you own every account related to your business, and that you have all passwords. Always.
  • Establish communication expectations – do you prefer weekly updates?  A monthly report? The ability to call on weekends?  Be sure you and your consultant are on the same page here so you don’t end up frustrated.
  • Get on the same page regarding what you expect them to do – more so than simply measuring ROI, ask them to proactively provide suggestions on what should be done for marketing, and which activities make sense. Don’t hire someone that simply checks off a list of activities each month. You’re hiring someone for their expertise, not their ability to get tasks done. They should manage your marketing like it’s their own company.

Outsourcing your marketing by hiring a marketing consultant is an exciting step to allow you as a business owner to focus on growing the business. Understanding what you should know before hiring a marketing consultant will help those efforts be a success!

Patty Hughes
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