Whether you are starting out or looking to grow your business, there is a time where you need help. It’s an emotional time of excitement with a sense of fear of doing the right thing. Is it time for a digital marketing consultant?
Some businesses are lucky to already have in-house digital marketing teams to look after the marketing services.
Whatever the situation, the time often comes where the business looks at hiring a digital consultant or looks at using a digital marketing agency.
whether on a project basis (working on website migrations or digital transformation projects) or to help bring the marketing up to speed
Make an investment in digital
I always suggest investing in the best advice you can afford and hire the digital consultant or agency that you can trust with your business. The world of digital marketing continues to have consultants and agencies that are after the quick fix and easy wins. This can mean issues only become visible to the business further down the line.
With search engine optimisation, updates such as Google Penguin can uncover poor practices. Overnight your best performing rankings can drop or disappear.
Bad advice can cost you a lot more over the long run than good advice. Invest in the best advice you can afford, and your consultant will make you more than they charge in increased revenue and profit.
Hiring a digital marketing expert for your marketing
Why hire a digital marketing person? The best digital marketing consultants are passionate and love what they do. This means they will be up to date on the latest strategies and trends. A consultants role include continuous learning and this is on their time, not yours.
Bringing in someone new into your marketing team structure can often lead to new and fresh insight. It is easy to become busy and complacent, a consultant should bring in fresh ideas and new ways of thinking. A digital marketing consultant will also have a holistic view with the ability to pick up on areas for improvement.
You get what you pay for, and then some! A digital marketing consultant is paid for the work they do. A great consultant will work hard to complete any project so the client is happy, their reputation depends on it. They can also be a great resource for other areas of your business, advising on a graphic designer, web developer, brand consultant and more.
Some consultants specialise in a specific industry. Others are industry agnostic working with an array of clients. They learn from others in the market and from best practices across the industry. This is often one of the biggest advantages of hiring a digital consultant. This constant exposure to other options sets a consultant apart from a full-time employee.
Using a full-service agency
Other times as a business owner you may find a better option is to go down the agency route. This may be because you want a developed and outsourced marketing department, bringing together as many people as you can. Or you are running some complex campaigns across many areas of online marketing.
Should I hire a digital marketing agency?
Should you hire an employee that’s dedicated to the job, a specialist digital consultant or outsource to a digital marketing agency?
Between the options of marketing consultant v marketing agency, the lines can be a little blurred. While it used to be the case that the agency would offer a wider range of expertise and scalability, this is changing.
An independent digital consultant often operates with a network of other digital freelancers and consultants. They can bring these resources onboard as needed. helping save both time and money. For example, a dedicated SEO consultant, social media marketing consultant and content marketing consultant may work more like cooperative marketing partners.
What results should you expect from hiring a digital consultant?
Any consultant should start with some sort of discovery session to learn more about yourself and the business. This allows them to understand your issues and your specific goals, leading to an agreed proposal outlining the details.
Digital marketing means dealing with many unknowns and areas such as SEO have many variables. Even the best search marketers will not guarantee where your site will get ranked. There are a lot of educated guesses and ‘it depends’, the best thing you can do is to differentiate outputs from outcomes.
Ask your consultant to explain what aspects of their proposal are based on speculation, and what is or isn’t guaranteed. The phrase ‘ I can guarantee 1st place listing on Google’ is often a warning sign.
Another important factor is how they work with the existing marketing team. A digital consultant not only need to hit the ground running but should also fit in as a team member, the extra helping hand
How long does it take for a consultants work to generate business?
It takes time. Digital marketing is a process that takes time to reach the desired result. Throwing more resources at an issue may not generate quick results.
All good things come in time.Warren Buffett
No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.
Compounding is a subject mastered by Buffett. This quote talks about investing in a business and letting the eggs hatch in due time. There is something to be said about letting your investment grow from millions to billions. Companies take a long time to blossom so it is pointless to expect immediate returns.
While you should see improvements while your digital consultant is hired, you may find more result appear afterwards. This is often why businesses will have a digital marketing consultant on a retainer or bring them back in 3-6 months.
This graph is a personal favourite. I have it on the wall as a reminder of expectations, taken from a presentation from Rand Fishkin of Moz.
Questions for your prospective consultant
You need to feel confident about hiring a digital consultant. From both a personal and business perspective, make sure you have questions ready to ask them.
Ask about examples of work, testimonials or case studies. How long have they worked in digital, or the wider marketing area?
Ask them if they guarantee the first-place listing for your desired keywords. There should be no guarantees, and at this stage, they will explain and set your expectations.
Try out their work before you commit to a bigger project. I often introduce new clients to my digital marketing consultancy with a digital audit. This helps to give the business a better understanding of the online position. It also helps understand how a digital marketing strategy can be customised to meet their business goals.
It is an opportunity to discover what working with them is like. Do they keep you informed, do they understand your business, do you think you can work with them again?
Spend your time up-front and try not to rush in. Ask around and take advice from people who have hired a digital marketing consultant before. If you are still unsure, take small steps, to begin with.
Hiring a digital consultant should be an investment, not a cost.