Marketing. It’s a curse because so much of it, as we’ve said before, is difficult to measure and quantify.
So how do you know you’re getting the right advice and the right support? What is most likely to be right for you?
First: what do you want to achieve?
When we set out on our journey into consultancy, we quickly realised we needed to establish early in the process what it was our clients want. This is why we try to ensure each project begins with a detailed discussion on the subject: your business.
Sometimes you only want one thing. In which case you don’t need to discuss it in too much detail, it should be straightforward to brief and scope. For example, if you want someone to set you up on ‘Google ads’ (see our earlier article on this), or if you want someone to post on social media on your behalf, it should be easy to work out what needs doing. From there, you can identify whether your money is being well spent through clear results.
But for more complex matters: broader marketing strategy, business development, re-branding exercises, you may need a more detailed approach.
So What Should You Be Looking For?
Does your marketing consultant provide measurable results? As a minimum, we’d expect to provide (and be asked for) regular reports and statistics on the growth of online accounts. We always report on things like the success of email marketing open and click rates (who has opened, and who has clicked on links in emails). There should be growth targets around engagement. Interaction online with websites and other activities can all be measured.
Identifying where work has come from is important. This is definitely a two-way thing. Ideally, you’ll be working in tandem with your consultant to ensure both of you can help to identify links between marketing and revenue.
Is your consultant making effective use of their time?
We’ve come across situations where clients have had consultants who seem to have spent all their time doing things that are unproductive. Making posters / graphics that quickly become out of date, or creating systems that are inefficient. Whilst these traits may be more difficult to spot, it’s worth keeping an eye on your website for dated materials. Look out for excessive or irrelevant content to ensure your valuable time and money aren’t wasted.
What’s your consultant’s approach to learning?
Do they know all they need to know, because they’ve been ‘in the game for years’? Or are they always looking to learn, reading, researching, trying new methods for reaching new customers and more importantly, retaining existing ones? The great Andy Owen is constantly dismayed by the number of people who make stuff up and refuse to study.
Do they take a scientific approach to marketing? Such as segmenting your database into types of client or geography? Do they keep things as streamlined and centrally managed as possible, or do they work in disparate spreadsheets and folders?
Does your consultant have a specialism? What does their client base look like?
There are overarching principles that govern good marketing. Some of the advice we share on this website would work just as well for a fish and chip shop, a firm of accountants or a software developer. But if any of these businesses asked us to support them, we would say no.
It is important that your marketing partner understands your sector and client base. Only then can they target your marketing to the specific problems your clients face. If your services are particularly niche, this is even more important.
Grammar and Spelling
One of the most telling signs that you’re not getting best value for money is good old spelling and grammar. Everyone makes the odd mistake from time to time. Even Annie and I have messed one or two things up in the very recent past! However, if your (or your consultant’s) copy and content are littered with poor grammar, unnecessary punctuation and mistakes, that’s usually an indicator that your consultant doesn’t care.
Check their website with a fine-tooth comb (this is inviting trouble!) – do they use the correct spelling of the names of key clients and terms? Do they appear to have a website that you would be proud of for your business?
Because if they don’t care about their own work, they certainly won’t care about yours.
This is sometimes a good idea. The only problem being that recommendations are only as good as the knowledge and experience of the person making them. I’ve a friend who loves Wetherspoons burgers. Another who wouldn’t touch them with a Dettol-soaked cloth. Which friend is right? Get recommendations but be very cautious about them.
It would perhaps be worth getting advice from someone who knows about marketing. We’ll let you know what our objective view of one consultant or another might be. There’s plenty of work out there, so if you’re going to work with someone else, it’s in our interests to ensure you work with someone good. Because you definitely won’t come back to us if we give you a bum steer!
It’s Not Simple
There are lots of factors that go to make up a good (or in some cases bad) marketing consultant. We work hard to try and ensure our clients get the best possible results for the money they trust us with, and the results support our aspirations. Almost all our clients stay with us for a long period of time, the longest has been working with us since the day we established the business. If you need advice or support with your BD and marketing, get in touch today.
Some key things to ask or check:
- What reports will we receive?
- How much input do you need from us?
- Can we see examples of your past work?
- How well do you know our sector?
- Check the consultant’s own marketing material and content.
- How well connected are you in our sector?
- Do existing / past clients recommend you?
- What do other marketing experts say about you?