When Does Hiring an Outside Marketing Consultant Make Sense?
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?
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.
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.
Upon reviewing the consultants’ work and credentials, you should be able to answer these questions:
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.
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.