Deciding whether or not to hire a digital marketing consultant can be a really difficult decision. So in this article, I’m going to play both sides and share my opinion at the very end in terms of when you should hire a digital marketing consultant, as well as when you maybe shouldn’t. Hopefully, you’ll have a better sort of idea as to the sorts of questions to ask yourself, as well as to ask the consultants when you are potentially exploring who to hire.
Question #1: Why somebody might want to hire a digital marketing consultant
Ideally, you’re in this position in which you have your business settled, you are starting to get actual customers and you’re not just trying to start from scratch from nothing and essentially just magically grounded. That is a setup for failure when it comes to a digital marketing consultant because what’s going to happen is that consultants probably going to try their best, but they’re going to run you dry in terms of their retainer fee or whatever their fees are before they actually get you some meaningful results.
So ideally, if you haven’t already focus on your business fundamentally first in terms of validating that you have product market fit, making sure that you’ve actually made a product or service that people actually want before you start scaling up your digital presence.
Question #2: Can you actually afford bringing somebody else on?
If this is the very first person that you’re going to be bringing into your business as either a contractor or a freelancer, et cetera, well, you need to make sure that this is actually the best use of your limited funds. It might actually be more useful, for example, for you to bring on a virtual assistant or you just want to bring in some part-time contractor help in other areas of the business.
But oftentimes digital marketing is actually not going to be the first place that you will typically want to invest any extra cash that you have lying around. Assuming that you do have your business in place, though, you already have a core basis of customers or a place to start when it comes to your core marketing needs.
Question #3: What are the ways that I want to grow?
Do I want to grow in which a lot of my demand is being generated by the digital marketing content I’m coming out with, or don’t want to grow from more local on the boots marketing or physical marketing and things like that? So once you have a better idea of that, that’ll tell you whether or not digital marketing, in general, is applicable for your business.
Generally speaking, what I will tell you is that digital marketing does have a place with pretty much any business today. But the caveat though is that you don’t necessarily always need a digital marketing consultant to get started. In fact, it’s my opinion that if you are still starting out in which you’re bootstrapping yourself, or you have limited funding or limited runway in terms of getting to the next milestone for your business, you might not want to hire a digital marketing consultant today.
The reason why is because most of the time, those digital marketing consultants are going to run you a couple of grand every single month, including a monthly retainer on top of any other work they might be doing.
So for example, they might charge you for their monthly services, but also be charging you for all the paid ads that they’re running for you. And so what you want to actually do instead is I recommend just figuring things out yourself, rolling up your sleeves, going on YouTube, going on this channel or some other channels that are great online, and just learning about the basic fundamentals of digital marketing.
I have a really, really helpful article on SEO for dummies over here that you might find useful when you’re first learning the ins and outs of what is important to ranking on page one for Google. And the reason why I say this is because if you don’t know the difference between things like on-page SEO or off page SEO, then you’re blindly going to be following the advice of whichever digital marketing consultant you hire. And that leads a lot of business owners to A: waste a ton of money, B: have no idea what the heck they’re doing. And C: spend way too long, working with a digital marketing consultant that might not actually be getting the results that are meaningful for their business.
It is really easy for somebody to sell you on a consulting package, but it’s a lot harder for them to be clearly getting you results and for you to be knowing exactly how to measure their success. And so what I always recommend is at a high level, when it comes down to it, if you’re finding yourself in the early days of your business, where you’re still trying to get situated, you’re not fully sure what your digital marketing strategy is going to entail, you don’t even understand what SEO is at a high level, do not hire a consultant. That’s right. Don’t hire a consultant. I’m not even trying to sell you anything here.
What I want you to know though is that you need to keep on high alert and learn the fundamentals of digital marketing. What actually makes digital marketing effective, go through some of the free videos on this channel, learning about the different strategies that bigger B2B SaaS companies are using, or just general companies are using in terms of service-based companies that are succeeding in your local area.
By understanding the overall landscape before you hop in, you’ll actually be able to make an intentional decision as to how your business is going to scale your digital marketing. So whether that’s going to be figuring something out, like taking a templates approach, which has been the theme of a few of my recent articles, or if it’s going to take an approach where you’re going to want to be doing a lot of informational long-tail content.
Whatever it is, you need to figure out what these sorts of strategies are before you then look at the 100 strategies or so that are available and decide for yourself, which three to five you want to focus on in the next six to 12 months.
Questions to ask when hiring a digital marketing consultant
Now, in the case where you don’t want to take my advice and you want to go ahead and hire a digital marketing consultant, here are a few of the key questions that I would ask if I were hiring them.
1. The first question is I would specifically ask them what were their before and after results from working with their last three to five clients, what is their average outcome is what you’re looking for here. If they’re just telling you things like, oh, well I got this client to go from a hundred page views to 200 page views, that is nothing. You could have done that yourself completely for free with just your time. And so in the case where they can’t clearly deliver clear results where they’re saying things like, well, I increase the weekly 30 to 60 through focusing on a Yelp based review strategy or something like that, well then it’s not going to be worth your time to work with that digital marketing consultant.
2. The second thing to ask them is how do they think about digital marketing? What are some of the clear tactics or strategies that they like to deploy? The reason why we want to this question is because in the case where they are a one-trick pony, well, you need to make sure that that trick is going to work in your space, but also you want to make sure that you have an upper limit as to how long you’re going to be working with that digital marketing consultant before moving on to either another one or taking things in-house for you.
3. The third question to ask is what their actual availability is and how many clients they are actively managing at any point in time. The reason why in general, I’m not a huge fan of hiring a digital marketing consultant is because their incentives are always misaligned with yours. Sure they will try to get you results, but they won’t actually care as much as if you were to bring that sort of work in-house. And so ultimately this is going to be something that you want to understand in terms of their client load, because in the case where they’ve got 25 clients, but it’s a one-man shop. Well, that means that you’re competing with 24 other customers of theirs for their time.
And so what you might end up with is a shoddy quality in terms of work product. So it’s really important that if you do hire a consultant, that they are super intentional about the sorts of clients that they take on. Now usually if a digital marketing consultant caps the number of clients that they take, it means that their retainers are going to be higher as well because they focus more on quality as opposed to quantity.
It’s a concentrate Octo that you have to work through, which is whether or not this person aligns well with the values of what you want your business to champion as well from a digital marketing front. Those are just some of the core questions that I would ask a digital marketing consultant.
When hiring a digital marketing agency
In the case where you’re looking to hire an agency, I would be even more diligent. Make sure that you interview at least three to five consultants or agencies, regardless of which direction you go. The reason why is because you have to get a sense of who is more organized. And then who is more actually on top of their stuff.
A lot of times digital marketing agencies are all over the place. Their quality is all over the place as well. There’s really no easy way to tell who is good from bad until you’ve actually had the experience of working with somebody really good or somebody really, really bad. And so it’s really important for you to get your lay of the land before you make a final decision. The reason why that’s also helpful is because you can then negotiate between the different consultancies or agencies for the best rate that’s going to work for your budget.
So just to recap for today, my number one piece of advice for you today is don’t hire a digital marketing consultancy if you don’t understand the fundamentals of SEO or just some general basic digital marketing strategies. Instead, just go on YouTube, and watch a bunch of free videos about these different tactics so you can get a better understanding of these fundamentals before you start exploring, bringing somebody on your team.
The reason why you want to do this is because that way you actually have enough baseline knowledge to effectively manage the consultant or agency that you hire. And then in the case where you do decide to hire somebody, go through the questions that I went over in this article.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning if hiring a digital marketing consultant is right for you.