With new businesses starting every day and the marketing world ever changing on how we get our messages in front of our customers, I wanted to go over some key things to consider when trying to choose an online marketing consultant.
Every marketing agency has its strengths and areas of focus. For example, here at Small Hits, we focus on SEO and teaching how to build and manage your own website. There are so many tools available today to allow for small business owners to manage their own sites, there is really no reason to hire an agency to do everything.
If you asked us to do print advertising – we know how to do this, but it isn’t our specialty. Instead of throwing darts in a dark room, we would rather refer you to another agency that can perform this task better. This way you, the business owner, aren’t wasting money on hiring someone who doesn’t fit the need you have at that moment.
Step 1 – Find out their strengths
When hiring an online marketing consultant or agency, find out what their strengths are.
What do they specialize in?
What areas can they best help you achieve your goal?
What exactly is your goal?
Small Hits can simply setup your website, or teach you how to do this yourself. We can teach you how to get every aspect of white hat SEO – Search Engine Optimization done, how to test and retest your SEO formula and results, and how to link your website across the internet.
Other companies specialize in SEM – Search Engine Marketing and have a more in depth knowledge of how Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, and so many other online marketing platforms work.
Print companies have more knowledge on how print advertising works, what jumps off the page to people reading a newspaper or magazine, and how to get your message across in a split second. They also know what colors and designs work best.
Find out your potential consultant or agencies strengths by reading their website and directly asking them.
Step 2 – Find out their weaknesses
We all have weaknesses – it is just a part of life. Learning to strengthen those weaknesses or using them as an advantage can be a useful way to make use of them, but you don’t want to hire a consultant or agency that is weak in the area you need strength.
A marketing consultant or agency should be transparent with both their strengths and weaknesses. If what you need is someone to develop and build you a website, but they are weak on SEO, there is a good chance you will pay for something that isn’t completed correctly, with all the different aspects a website is required to have today. Want to know more – go check out Don’t Be Fooled by the $595 Websites. These low cost websites may look okay on the surface, but behind the scenes they are a complete mess. Web crawlers cannot read them and they are missing a ton of key elements that are required to get your information across online.
If the consultant or agency is not being transparent and just saying “yes” to every request – research more about the company and get additional information from them on exactly how they are going to accomplish your goals.
Step 3 – Setup a meeting or consultation
Setup a meeting and get a consultation with the agencies or consultants you like best. Go with a list of questions and goal and find out what each of them are going to do to help you meet those goals. Be sure to get as much details as possible and see how well they answer your questions.
One other great tip I would give in this step is this – see if they know your business / industry before you tell them. A good marketing agency or consultant should have completed enough research about your company, even if you have no online profile or website yet, to know exactly what industries are relevant and how your company fits into it.
I can’t tell you how many times I have received calls from marketing companies telling me how they can help, usually from a cold call, and then they give me information on how to improve in an industry the company I am working for doesn’t even belong in. No one knows your industry as well as you do, but do make sure that the company or consultant you are hiring understands your industry at least on some level.
Step 4 – Check your results and hire
Once you have met with everyone you are considering, sit down and look over the information. Consult with a business partner, employee, or someone you trust to go over the information collected.
Who did you meet with that best fits the requirements you have for this specific project?
Who has the best skill set for a continued relationship?
Who can help your business grow the way you are looking to grow?
Which agency best fits within your budget?
Which agency did you like the best?
Sometimes just going on who you liked best can greatly impact your end result. If you and your agency / consultant do not get along, the relationship between the companies can become strained quickly. Make sure the person or people you will be working with can get along with your own company culture well. Having a pleasant relationship will make the marketing process all the more enjoyable.
In the end, choose the company that fits you best. Remember, there is also no harm in trying something out for a term. Instead of signing a year contract, see if you can work with the company for a quarter and then reevaluate. If things are moving in the right direction, extend the contract. If not, speak to the agency and see how they may be able to change to meet your goals better. You can always even go back to the other agencies you have spoken to and reevaluate what is missing. Remember, the marketing agency or consultant is just another employee of sorts, they work for you.