Make certain you get the right answers to these 5 questions BEFORE handing over your hard earned money to a marketing consultant to work on your small or medium sized business.
Here’s your checklist:
1. GOT RESULTS? “What specific results have you given your clients?”
Having a client on your roster is one thing, but getting them real results is another. Work with a company that is very happy to share success stories with you, and if you find yourself listening to a story but the punch line has no measurable business result – chances are they have no real result to share with you.
2. EXPERIENCE?: Ask, “How many years have you been involved in marketing and at what level?”
Experience - it matters. Don’t believe it? Take a look at the job postings for executive level marketers. All ads require 10+ years of experience. Lessons learned are invaluable when looking at new business challenges. These consultants know what works what doesn’t having already forged the quickest
pathways to success. –Be careful of the experienced consultant that gets your business, only to the day-to-day off to his junior (and less experienced) colleague. Make sure you get an experienced executive working on your business.
3. AVAILABILITY? Ask, “How quickly will you be able to work through my challenges?”
This is especially true if you have a consultant on retainer. Even if it’s a one-off service for you, many consultants will overbook their availability knowing that they can delay service to some while prioritizing others. Make sure your chosen consultant is going to be available to work with you within 24 hours and strive for an On-Demand type of service.
4. PAYMENT FLEXIBILITY?: Ask, “Payment terms are important to me as a small/medium size business, can you offer me flexibility in payment terms?”
At the end of the day, there are many great consultants that work on their own or have small teams that do great work. This means, they are not beholden to corporate policy on payment terms. They have the ability to work with clients to make sure the client is in the best position to pay when they are able. While they need to earn a living, they should also be very willing to work with you and accommodate payment terms and especially for a large scale project
5. BENEFIT TO MY BUSINESS? Ask, “As a result of our working together, what tangible benefit can I expect to see with my business?”
Experienced marketers should be able to tell you what they will specifically be bringing to help your business. This should be part of their engagement with you. If you’re experienced marketer, you will likely tell them exactly what you need and they’ll react to your request. If you’re less experienced, make sure you don’t leave what they do to their discretion. Make sure you ask them to outline not just the strategic deliverables you’ll receive but also the expected benefit to your business so that you get a true return on your investment.
And here’s a very important bonus question you should ask yourself:
BONUS QUESTION. Ask yourself, “Do I like them?”
Just like any relationship, you have choices! Do not enter into a relationship that gives you the wrong feeling. There are many consultants out there. Make sure the one you choose is someone you feel like you like and can trust and truly wants to help you win at business and in life! Trust your instinct on this.
David is an experienced marketing executive and partner at Custom Marketing. He's run marketing campaigns in the US and across the world, living over 10 years in both Europe and Latin America. His decades of experience building marketing plans and campaigns for companies such as Warner Bros and FOX, allow him to work quickly with clients to get them real results. David has a BA in International Relations from UCSB, an MBA from Boston University and is fluent in Spanish. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, 2 kids, and his pug Luna.