When to Hire a Marketing Consultant
You started your own business to make money for yourself rather than padding someone else’s pockets. You then swiftly learned more about business overhead than you ever wanted to know and quickly sought ways to lower yours. The most obvious way, of course, was to wear as many hats as possible to keep payroll and consulting expenses down.
Although you’ve likely had much success in handling a multitude of tasks on your own, marketing is a tough nut to crack. If you feel that you’re spending a lot of time, money and resources but not getting much in return, it may be time to get help. But how do you know when it’s really time? Here are some clues to watch for.
You Love All Your Marketing Ideas
Put simply, a business strategy consultant has objectivity that you don’t. Doing your own marketing is a plan with some merit. After all, no one knows your business better than you do. No matter how well you know your business, however, there are going to be blind spots in your marketing strategy for two reasons.
The first is that you know your business. Marketing is not that business. Even if you read every SEO strategy article on the internet and devour every guerilla marketing book you can find, there will be large gaps in your knowledge. At the end of the day, even careful research is no substitute for experience.
You may also stumble on your own because you like what you’re doing. Take writing, for example. Writers are often a weird bunch who take great joy in crafting the perfect sentence. Sometimes, though, that beautifully crafted sentence simply doesn’t fit the article when all is said and done. Experienced writers delete the rogue sentence even though it feels like tearing off a Band-Aid. Poor ones, however, keep even bad ideas that they like — often failing to recognize them as bad. The same can happen with your marketing plans. A marketing idea you love may contain a fatal flaw you’re too close to see.
Business is Slow
Entrepreneurs often experience alternating periods of feast and famine, and famine hardly seems the time to spend money on a marketing consultant. You’ll naturally tighten your belt when business is slow, and rightfully so. It’s important, however, to analyze why things have slowed down. Is your work seasonal? Are you competing with a new business in your area or a larger one? Is your marketing failing to reach or attract your customers? A consultant can help you work around all of these issues and others.
A consultant can help you craft promotions that may draw in more customers during the off season. They’ll also know the best way venues for competing with large nationwide chains who have far more advertising dollars at their disposal. Good marketers also know how to encourage buying in a slow economy. It’s true that you must sometimes spend money to make money, and a consultant may prove the best place to spend it when business is down.
You Lack the Right Connections
Even if you’re a networking genius, a marketing consultant has helpful connections you don’t. Most of the connections you make through your business interactions are likely in your industry or other closely related industries. Marketing consultants have access to website code writers, graphic designers, professional photographers and others who can help you create top-notch marketing materials.
A consultant will also know who among these professionals is the best at what they do and who it’s best to avoid. These connections will save you both time and money. You won’t have to spend time looking for service providers and you’ll know you’re getting quality service for your money.
You Don’t Know What’s Working
Marketing consultants don’t just help you devise a marketing plan and then leave you to it. Instead, they help you understand what parts of your marketing plan are working and which parts are under-performing. This is an important service, as it prevents you from wasting money on tactics that simply aren’t working.
It’s hard for business owners to know what statistics they should be tracking. Even if you know what to track, you may not know how to monitor it. Many website hosts, blog hosts and other marketing outlets will track important statistics for you and generate a report, but you may not know how to properly interpret those numbers. Tracking the numbers is pointless if you don’t understand what they’re telling you or how to turn them into action. A business strategy consultant will help you decide what success looks like and how to recognize it and reach it.
You Need Help Focusing
It’s a fact: Business owners often get pulled in too many directions at once. When you’re busy problem solving and focusing on your core business, some projects get pushed to the back burner. Busy days also lead to working evenings and weekends at home, where it’s easy for a business blog post to drift towards checking your email or hopping on Facebook. Since you’re the boss, though, no one will chastise you for missing a deadline. They may not even know you were late. Your business strategy consultant, however, will know.
A consultant will help you formulate a marketing plan, create a timeline for completing marketing tasks and check in to see how things are going. For some, knowing a meeting with their consultant is looming is a great motivator. So is the consultant’s fee, since it’s silly to pay for good advice and then fail to heed it. If focus is a problem, a consultant may be the solution.
Improving the Odds with a Marketing Consultant
All of these reasons for hiring a marketing consultant are compelling, but the most persuasive may be the simplest. Studies routinely show that business owners who hire consultants and outsource tasks they’re unfamiliar with are more likely to succeed. No one person can know it all. If you’re the smartest person in the room all the time, you’re probably in trouble. When you’re thoughts turn to considering a consultant for marketing help, trust your instincts. They’ve gotten you this far, and they’re probably not wrong now either. Call a consultant for help today and take your marketing plan to the next level.