What to Expect From Your Marketing Consultant
Working With A Marketing Consultant
Working with a marketing consultant means you’re at the point in your endeavor where you’re ready to invest in the future. It’s a really exciting time. Chances are, you’ve already spent time preparing for this new business relationship by getting referrals, doing some research, and interviewing candidates. But, I bet during all of that hard work, you’ve overlooked one of the most important aspects of working with a marketing consultant…setting expectations.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You made sure to include very clear deliverables that your marketing consultant must complete for them to meet your standards of a “job well done.” Firstly, great job! It’s a perfect place to start. But, understanding how a marketing consultant works is an entirely different ball game. If this is your first experience, trust me, you’re going to want to keep reading. The best relationships begin with a mutual understanding of what you expect.
Expect your consultant to be knowledgeable in various areas, but not an expert in every one.
Your consultant should be experienced in your industry. However, every professional has their own strengths and weaknesses. The best way to avoid any misunderstanding is to keep your consultant up-to-date on company trends and provide relevant information that could impact their work. The key is to be as transparent as possible. Share both the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be upfront about your audience, customers, and competitors. If you’ve already invested in research or have industry insight that isn’t readily available, share that with your consultant. The more prepared and abreast they are, the better the outcomes.
Your consultant should help you establish goals, strategize, and make plans, but they won’t necessarily be responsible for executing them.
A consultant’s job is to gather information, identify goals, strategize campaigns, and create plans for execution. However, most consultants won’t actually execute those plans. Since they generally charge by the hour and have comparable rates to other professional service providers like lawyers or accountants, you likely wouldn’t want them to anyway. It’s best to prepare an in-house team member to work on executing your plans. In some cases, your marketing consultant may work with a team of experts who specialize in executing plans (at a much more affordable rate).
Expect your marketing consultant to use data, evidence, and experience to determine their recommendations, but nothing is ever guaranteed.
Your consultant should be educated, highly experienced, and up-to-date on all of the latest industry tactics and strategies. They should always share any potential barriers or problems that could impact your outcome. Be honest with them if you have questions or concerns. When you are, your consultant should always be receptive and readily available to answer your questions. Like my Spanish teacher used to say, “the only stupid questions are the ones you ask yourself on the bus ride home.”
Expect your consultant to encourage you, but not to be a “yes” person.
You’ve hired a marketing consultant to help you in some area of business. As such, be flexible and prepared to be challenged in a variety of ways. Actually, be ready to be flat out wrong on a few things. That’s the point. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Make sure you trust your consultant enough to trust in the process. In the end, your marketing consultant will have your business’s best interest in mind. After all, their success is tied to your success.
Expect to be a priority for your consultant, but don’t expect to be their sole responsibility.
Be upfront with your consultant about your expectations. While they’re going to be extremely passionate about their work, and you’re likely to be their favorite client, you won’t be the only one. Setting expectations around availability and methods of communication will help keep you and your consultant on the same page. It’s important to be respectful of each other’s time and understand that you may not be able to access them at all hours of the day and night. Nevertheless, if you feel your consultant isn’t meeting your expectations, it’s best to revisit the scope of your relationship. There could be a miscommunication or potentially a need to adjust your working relationship to better accommodate your needs.
Expect your marketing consultant to charge accordingly, but never expect them to be “cheap.”
Finally, you should expect your consultant to charge a rate that is commensurate to their education, experience, and previous successes. Marketing consultants spend years honing their craft and have dedicated themselves to a profession where they must continuously innovate and adapt. As such, they’re going to productize their services and take into account things like R&D, market share, competition, etc. when setting their hourly rate. Like most things, you get what you pay for.
On that same note, your consultant should love supporting you; however, you shouldn’t expect free help. Consider them a member of your professional team. As I mentioned, if you wouldn’t expect your lawyer or accountant to provide you with equivalent
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