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7 Questions to Ask When You Hire a Marketing Consultant

by Jennifer Beever on November 2, 2010

Ethics 2Remember the ad where the two big company consultants sat in front of a corporate business executive’s desk, and when the executive asked them, “What do you do?” the consultants said, “Err, we don’t  do anything…”? In the past, the label “consultant” designated someone who provided advice to businesses and organizations, but did not implement their advice. Today consultants are often interim executives, directors or managers, leading departments (and sometimes companies) and providing a combination of advice, expertise, project management and implementation.

What should you look for when hiring a marketing consultant?

Expertise

  1. How many years the marketing consultant has actually consulted? Beware of interim professionals who call themselves a consultant but are actually out of work. An out of work marketing professional is not committed 100% to your business because their number one objective is to find a job. And, if they’ve been working for just one company, their view of marketing and knowledge of options may be limited to one company or industry.
  2. What results has the marketing consultant gotten for their clients? Make sure your consultant is results-oriented. A sharp looking ad or website is a waste of money if it doesn’t generate leads that you can convert to sales and revenue! Ask for references and talk to others with whom the consultant has worked.
  3. Independence and Ethics

  4. How many conferences does your consultant attend in their field of specialty? Do they speak at the conferences? Make sure that your consultant is an expert who is not only asked to speak to audiences of business owners but also gets rave reviews.
  5. Is your marketing consultant independent? Or, are they representing a business like an ad agency or marketing services firm to which they will steer their clients for execution of recommended marketing programs? Good marketing consultants should have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, not to the business they run on the side that has overhead and employees they need to pay.
  6. Is your marketing consultant certified by a professional association with a rigorous body of knowledge? Certifications show a commitment to their profession and industry. Find out if the consultant is required to maintain their certification with continuing education and re-testing. Ask if the certification involves a code of ethics or a code of professional behavior and find out if the consultant follows it!
  7. Listening Skills and Honesty

  8. Does your marketing consultant listen to you or are they busy listening to themselves talk? Too many consultants leave the corporate world because they can’t get along with co-workers. They may be knowledgeable,  but they don’t understand how to put others’ needs first in order to make sure their clients achieve their business objectives.
  9. Is your marketing consultant honest? When you ask a question and your marketing consultant doesn’t know the answer, do they stumble and bluff their way through an explanation? Or, do they say, “I don’t know the answer, but I will find out and get back to you.” Then, do they get back to you?

What do you look for in a marketing consultant? What was missing when you hired one? Please comment below.

Photo from Flickr, Attribution Some rights reserved by Samuel Mann

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