If you’re struggling with marketing your business or organization, you have a few options… you could hire someone in-house to do the work, but if that’s not an option, you could outsource the work entirely or hire a consultant to guide and advise you.
Consulting is often a more appealing option since the cost can be lower, and the scope of work might be a bit more loose. When outsourcing your social media or email marketing, you’ll likely be working with a marketing expert who will be spending a lot of time working on your projects, so the hours can add up.
While you might learn a few things when outsourcing your marketing needs, consulting is fully focused on teaching you what you need to know. If learning sounds valuable to you, consulting may be the best way to go. But you’ll need these five things to make it truly successful.
1. Time to dedicate to learning a new skill.
The ultimate goal of most marketing consulting is to set you up to succeed on your own. There are a million marketing blogs, YouTube channels, e-books and online courses out there, but weeding through them to try to learn what you need can be cumbersome. Working with a knowledgeable marketing consultant cuts through that process, but you’ll still have to find time to commit to the project. Regardless of how often you’re meeting with your consultant, you should plan for at least 2-3 hours a week reviewing what you learned, implementing changes and coming up with questions for your next meeting.
2. A true interest in and excitement about the topic.
You’ll be more productive and efficient doing things you love. If you’re avoiding marketing just because you don’t know what you’re doing, a good marketing consultant can help you fix that. But if you’re truly, madly, deeply not interested in learning how Facebook ads work or how to set up an email marketing campaign, it’s a waste of time to learn it. You’re better off outsourcing these projects and spending your time doing things you love. But if you’re intrigued, getting just a bit of education on a topic from a consultant can position you perfectly to grow your business on your own.
3. A good sense of your overall business goals (not marketing, just your business in general).
A good marketing consultant will try to get inside your head and see your vision and mission for your business, but the process is so much faster and more effective if you already have a good idea of what you’re doing with your business. That said, you don’t need to know anything about your website, your brand voice, or your content marketing plan… a consultant can help with all of those. You just need to know why you’re in business — what problems are you solving for people? Is your ideal client male or female, Gen X or Gen Z, local or not? What do you offer that’s better than what anyone else offers?
4. A commitment to do the homework.
Working with a marketing consultant will likely include homework. All the A-students out there will love this aspect, but even if that’s not you, it’s still totally manageable. Try to set aside an hour or two after each meeting with your consultant to work on your marketing efforts while the information is still fresh. Talk with your consultant about notes from meetings too — they might be willing to send you the highlights from the meeting so you can stay focused during it.
5. The ability to absorb and then convey what you learn to others.
If all goes well, you won’t be your business’s only employee for long. Or if you already have employees, you’ll have to find a way to convey the consultant’s information to them after each meeting. Regardless, having a good grasp of the information you learn will help you teach it when the time comes. If you’re confused about anything you discuss in consulting meetings, be sure to pause and make sure you really understand.