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What You Should Know Before You Hire a Marketing Consultant

There are millions of consultants in the world, and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Before you hire me (or any other consultant), sit down and outline what the problem is, how much it hurts, and what a solution will look like. The following tips will help you get through the process with fewer headaches and better results.

What is the problem?

Before you start making phone calls or doing Google searches make sure you know what the problem really is and what is causing it. If your sales are too low is it because you don't have enough salespeople or is it because the salespeople have to spend 40% of their time filling out paperwork?

Is your Web site under-performing because it's hard to use? Or, would you like it to generate more leads? Are you paying 10 customer service reps a total of $240,000 a year to take orders that should be handled with e-commerce software?

How is it affecting both you and your business?

For instance, are your revenues down 25%? Or do you have to work until 9 PM every night just to keep up with your work?

How long has this been going on?

Is this a new problem or something you've been living with for a long time? Can you continue to live with the situation or has it become intolerable?

How bad is it and how urgent is a solution?

Where are you on the scale between:

Pleased.....Neutral..... Aware.....Concerned ..... Critical .....Crisis!!!

Is your job performance suffering? Can't sleep? Yelling at your dog?

How much is it costing you?

How much have you spent with poor results? What is the price in lost business, elevated stress, or lost productivity? Weekly? Monthly? Daily?

Are you the decisionmaker?

Do you have to consult with other people in your company? How will you work with the consultant? Who has final say on making the choice, defining the problem, reviewing recommendations, and implementing the solution?

What do you need to solve this problem?

What are the consequences if the problem continues - for one year? For two years? Indefinitely? Will your company go out of business? Will productivity fall by 50%? Have you given up trying to solve the problem on your own?

What improvements do you need and can you quantify them?

Increased sales? Reduced stress? Better service? Improved response to advertising campaigns?

How does the consultant's fee compare to lost revenue?

Or, how does the fee compare to ordinary expenses you're already paying (such as leasing a copy machine or going out to lunch daily)?

How you will measure the impact of the consultant's recommendations on your company or you personally?

A higher response to marketing campaigns? Reduced stress and frustration? Better job satisfaction? Lower customer acquisition costs? Percentage changes? Dollar values?

How does he/she set fees?

An hourly rate is easy to measure, but may not work in your favor. It encourages the consultant to take more time and work more slowly. Plus, you are more likely to scrutinize every bill for evidence of progress against time spent. You are better off working with someone whose fees are based on the value of the project. This gives you an upper limit on your investment. You know how much you will spend, without any unpleasant shocks.

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