Are you looking for a marketing consultant who can assist your business growth or help you overcome a challenging situation?
Judging by the number of SME clients who we have worked with who have previously been let down by their chosen marketing partner, it is easy to see why so many business owners are concerned that marketing people over-promise and under-deliver.
We believe the problem in the industry is multifaceted and is unlikely to go away in a hurry – here is an examination of some of the industry issues. Hence the purpose of this article is to assist SME business owners in selecting the right marketing professionals to work on their business.
At The Marketing Network we don’t hide behind jargon nor try to impress you with it – talking of which this is hilarious! You know your business better than anybody else – we know how to get you in front of your target audience, with the right message at the lowest possible cost.
At The Marketing Network our experienced marketing consultants have the expertise to increase your sales and decrease your costs.
Marketing is about common sense so it is best to interview a few providers and see who makes most sense to you. Make sure to get references and see examples of their work before making the final decision. Most importantly, you need to be comfortable with how well the marketing consultant understands the key drivers in your business.
Here is a list of questions that will assist you in selecting the right marketing consultant for your business:
1. How many years experience does the marketing consultant have in the marketing industry?
Anything over 10 years is acceptable.
2. How many years experience does the marketing consultant have in consulting to small medium enterprises (SME’s)?
Less than 2 years is unacceptable. Consulting in general is one of the most transient industries and marketing is no different.
Anyone can call himself or herself a consultant and in fact over 8,000 individuals in Australia do so, but your chances of finding an independently accredited professional consultant are just 1 in 12!
So make sure that the marketing consultant you are talking to is a member of a professional marketing or consulting body, at the very least this means they have the right education / qualification.
3. How many different product / service categories has the marketing consultant worked across?
The more diverse the marketing consultant’s background the more likely they are to provide your business with innovative ideas on how to find, attract and retain customers.
4. Has the marketing consultant worked both in the corporate world and small medium enterprise?
The diversity of the marketing consultant’s experience across both big and small businesses is a great asset to your business, as each camp can learn much from the other. A marketing consultant that has worked with big business has the planning discipline and knowledge that can only be gained working at the big end of town. A marketing consultant that has worked with small and medium enterprises will have the street smarts that come only after one has experienced the limitations of tiny budgets that force a marketing consultant to think outside the square.
5. Does your prospective marketing consultant have B2C (Business to Consumers) and B2B (Business to Business) experience?
Although the marketing principles are the same each type of market – B2C and B2B – have their own peculiarities. A marketing consultant with experience across both areas will be able to deliver more comprehensive and creative solutions to marketing challenges faced by your business.
6. Does the marketing consultant have Integrated Marketing Communication experience?
The term Integrated Marketing Communication refers to the deep understanding and knowledge of all the facets of the marketing industry and how these different disciplines interact to provide the consumer with a superior brand experience.
Does the marketing consultant you are interviewing have experience across all or at least most of the marketing disciplines, and for how long? Here are some of the main areas:
- Research and Product Development
- Strategic Brand Positioning
- Online and Social Media Marketing
- Direct Marketing
- Media Planning / Buying
- Sales Promotions & Events
- Personal Selling
Ask for proof of their experience and examples in all of the above areas! Only marketing professionals that have had experience in most of the above areas for a period of at least 12 months per discipline can claim to understand and utilize Integrated Marketing Communications.
Why is it important, you ask?
Only an Integrated Marketing Communication approach will deliver the full benefits of marketing to your business. Integrated Marketing Communication is the “helicopter view” of your marketing situation, rather than a band-aid approach to the immediate challenges at hand.
7. Has the marketing consultant worked both on the client and advertising agency side of the marketing fence?
Marketing professionals on the client side concentrate on developing products or services to meet the needs of their target market, managing the distribution relationships and the sales process, analysis and research of buying trends etc.
Marketing professionals on the advertising agency side concentrate on the communication aspect of marketing, making sure that the right message reaches the right prospects, the right number of times. This is also generally the most expensive part of your marketing – getting your message into the hands of your prospects, before their eyes, and into their ears.
Both sets of skills are vital to achieving success for your business. Ask your prospective marketing consultant for proof and examples of their work on both sides of the marketing fence.
8. How creative is the marketing consultant that you are considering?
If a marketing consultant can’t come up with a few innovative ways of promoting your business in your first meeting, they are probably not right for you. Be aware, however, that ideas and strategies are tools of trade and marketing consultants may be hesitant to give those away for free, but they should be able to at least provide you with some constructive observations on how your business can be improved. If they can’t show you or talk you through at least a dozen creative concepts from current or past clients, you shouldn’t consider them!
9. Failure! Ask your prospective marketing consultant to give you some examples of projects that didn’t succeed or attain desired objectives and why.
Every one of us has failed in something and hopefully learned from that experience. This question can really provide you with great insight into the person’s honesty and ego, ability to overcome challenges, and learn.
10. Has the marketing consultant ever run their own business or invested in businesses other than their consulting business?
Marketing people are used to spending other people’s money with the aim of doing so in the most cost effective manner. Nothing makes one appreciate the real value of a hard earned dollar as much as spending money on marketing your own business. Marketing consultants who have simultaneously worn the hat of entrepreneur are much more likely to treat your marketing budget like they would their own – and that makes a world of difference!
11. Finally, will the marketing consultant just take your brief or will they challenge it?
Does the marketing consultant have the guts to challenge you – their potential prospect? It is an unfortunate fact that most marketing people who call themselves professionals do not have the fortitude to tell their clients and prospects the truth about their chances of success, about their briefs and about their businesses in general. At The marketing Network we promise to give you a good dose of reality. Our clients thank us for it and watch their sales increase.
As always, we love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us for a confidential and obligation free discussion about any of your marketing needs.