Many businesses find that outsourcing their marketing needs benefits the bottom line. However, problems arise when business owners don’t understand that different marketing professionals specialize in specific areas. In today’s blog, I’ll provide tips on navigating the vetting process to ensure that you are hiring the right marketing consultant.

Let’s begin with the definition of marketing according to American Marketing Association.

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” (Approved 2017)

Pretty simple, right? At its core, the definition is on target. However, there are as many different types of marketing as there are marketing professionals. So how does a company determine who they should hire to address their unique marketing needs?

Understand Your Business Goals First

Before you begin the interview process, take the time to self-reflect. Every company experiences numerous opportunities and challenges, so the first item of business is to define what success means to you.

  • Do you want to generate more leads?
  • Does your brand need a refresh?
  • Do you want to increase social media engagement?
  • Are you launching a new product or service?
  • Do you need to hire a full-service agency, or do you need a professional with specific skills?

Answering the above questions will help you to determine your scope of work and the skills and requirements you are looking for in a marketing consultant. The final step is to write a project description.

Now you can move to the next phase of vetting candidates.

Screening Questions

Here are five questions to ask candidates to help you determine the best consultant for your marketing needs.

  • What is your definition of marketing? Listen carefully to their response. If the answer is overly broad, ask for specifics. The answer will provide a clearer picture of the consultant’s marketing focus and help you determine if the person is a good fit.
  • How experienced are you in multi-channel marketing? This is a critical question because today’s consumer seeks information through various sources, and businesses need to consider a variety of touchpoints based on their buyer personas. At a minimum, any professional marketing consultant should have experience in content marketing, social media, and email marketing.
  • Do you focus on B2B or B2C clients? Yes, there is a difference. For example, a general marketing consultant is not the best choice if you run a professional services business, e.g., accounting, legal, or financial. Instead, it would be best if you had a B2B consultant. However, if you provide dental services to the general public, look for a B2C marketing consultant. Preferably one who has worked with other dental practices.
  • Ask if they design strategies or implement tactics. A marketing strategy is a plan of action that drives the decision-making for tactical marketing. If you already have a marketing plan but need assistance on the tactical pieces, such as graphic design, thought leadership, email marketing, and SEO, then look for a tactical specialist in that area. Otherwise, start from the beginning if your business doesn’t have a marketing strategy.
  • Ask for and check references. Unfortunately, too many business owners overlook this step.

Background Research

Even if you like what you hear, evaluate the candidate further.

  • Visit their website. Is it professional looking? Do the content offerings match your needs?
  • Does the consultant provide a client portfolio, which may include case studies? If not, ask for examples of success stories.
  • Research the professional’s social media pages. How do they position themselves on LinkedIn? Is their business active on other social media platforms?
  • Search for social proof and testimonials.

Marketing Positions – Definitions

Depending on your company’s needs, you may want to hire more than one marketing professional, as many professionals complement one another. For example, graphic designers collaborate with content writers to develop brochures, pitch packages and create advertisements. Therefore, plan accordingly.

For reference, I’ve listed descriptions of several common marketing freelance positions.

Marketing strategist – leads an organization or team department in accomplishing the company’s or client’s overall objective, not just campaign objectives and KPIs. Typical areas of oversight include: understanding the company’s goals, product or service, target audience, buyer’s journey, and measuring and analyzing results.

Brand consultant – a professional who assists businesses in defining, sharpening, and growing their reputation through time, making the brand a more vital driver of corporate performance.

Website developer – someone who builds websites using coding and programming. They will take an overall website design concept and build it using different coding languages.

Website designer – This role is mainly related to styling and layout of pages with content, including text, images, and other interactive elements.

Content specialist – a professional who develops a content strategy for online content. Content specialists work in several industries and areas of interest, including research, news, digital, social media, marketing, web, and print.

Content writer – a marketing and communications professional who writes digital and print content, including blogs, social media posts, and sales copy. In addition, these professionals conduct market research and collaborate with editors and other marketing professionals to produce and refine copy.

Graphic designer – a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles images, typography, or motion graphics to create a piece of design.

SEO specialist – evaluates search trends and assists in optimizing web pages for the desired keywords. They focus on improving the rank of a site within search engines to increase its visibility, which ultimately increases the chances that it will reach more people. Effective SEO specialists have experience working in CSS, HTML, and several other programming languages.

A note to the wise, some marketing consultants claim they can “do it all.”

Buyer beware.

While some marketing professionals have experience in more than one marketing specialty, they likely have expertise in a particular area. For example, a graphic designer is not a content writer, and an SEO specialist is not a marketing strategist.

YGL Enterprises Can Help

Selecting the right marketing consultant is a critical component of your business operations. So, before you hire an agency or consultant, you should have set clear goals to accomplish with their help. YGL Enterprises has helped numerous companies define their marketing goals and provided strategic consulting services. Contact us today to book your free marketing consultation.

Yvonne Levine, Charlotte NC-based Marketing Consultant Provider of strategic marketing solutions and brand management.Yvonne Levine, president of YGL Enterprises, Inc., is a strategic marketing consultant who collaborates with professional services and small and mid-sized businesses to develop and execute successful marketing strategies, branding initiatives, content creation, and digital marketing plans. By helping businesses devise a targeted strategy first, this approach creates a strong foundation for tactical decisions, which drives brand awareness and positive results. Follow Yvonne on LinkedIn and Facebook.