When Does Hiring an Outside Marketing Consultant Make Sense?

When Does Hiring an Outside Marketing Consultant Make Sense?

Guest Post by Christina Motley, Christina Motley LLC
As a business owner or entrepreneur there comes a time when you face a tough decision – deciding whether to outsource your marketing to a consultant or keep it in-house.

To make an informed decision, follow these tips.

1. Perform an internal audit.
The purpose of the audit is to evaluate a number of factors. What is the importance of this strategic initiative and its alignment to your business and marketing plan? What level of in-house expertise is available? Or, do you have limited resources (staff) for leading and implementing the initiative? What tools and funds are allocated to the project? How will this initiative impact your customer growth and retention?

 2. Who do you know and trust?
Referrals are a great place to start when considering outside consultants. Tap into your team’s network for contacts and referrals. If time is not of the essence, you can also send out an RFP. In the end, trust in the consultant’s ability to perform and complete the project is crucial to achieving your desired goals.
3. Speak with several individuals, agencies or firms.
Understand that different people and firms possess unique skill sets and approaches to the work. By talking with a variety of individuals or firms, you open yourself to generating additional ideas or asking questions you may not have thought of previously.
4. Review their work, credentials and previous projects.
Upon reviewing the consultants’ work and credentials, you should be able to answer these questions:
   Do the potential candidates have a proven track record for completing similar projects? 
   What results were produced on similar, previous projects?  
   How quickly can they learn about your organization and industry?  
   What is their approach and process?  
5. Request a proposal.
At a minimum, the proposal should include a timeline and rough estimate of the project cost. (For especially complex projects, Ghantt or PERT charts can be very useful in determining expertise and proficiency.) The proposal provides enough objective data to share with your team and executive leadership to allow for cross-functional input.

6. Interview the top 2–3 contenders.
Treat the interview with prospective consultants as if you’re interviewing a candidate to join your company. Even though the project may be on a short-term basis, it’s important to feel good about and like the person (or firm) with whom you will work. While trust and talent are important, the chemistry may be stronger with one candidate when compared to others. 

7. Ask for a Statement of Work Agreement (SOW.)
SOWs define the project specifics – what is to be done within a defined scope, the number of allowable revisions, key deliverables, client expectations and estimated compensation. The purpose of a well-defined SOW is to protect your organization as well as the consultant.

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