Thanks to google, and the internet in general, everyone is an "expert". Managing a start-up, being an entrepreneur or owning a localized small business is challenging enough without the extra burden of poorly executed marketing and bad advice.
So how do you know if you are contracting a wannabe or a pro?
This is written specifically for the branding, marketing and PR field of industry but can be put towards so much more, coding and development, IT, photography- You name it.
Often times, I am contacted by a potential client because they've already hired someone else and it didn't work out in their favor. It may have been a word of mouth referral or a consultant with a cheaper rate. The small business owner at this time is now hurried, frantic and their needs are expedited making the creative process of co-planning a rock solid marketing strategy that much more difficult.
A bad referral can wreck havoc on your budget. Not only do you feel obligated to continue the relationship based on the relationship in which you were referred, people also tend to be more flexible when they feel they are already in trusted hands. On the other hand, referrals can be an incredible community building experience, so how do you know if the referral is right for you?
Before You Take That referral Try This:
Thank you so much for sending me that information on that consultant you know. How you personally hired them to work for your own company/brand/etc? If so, what was your experience with them? Did you see a clear and concise return on your investment? Was the project a success? Would you hire them again?
Here are the 5 questions you NEED to ask a potential marketing, branding or PR consultant that will not only deepen your return on investment but also catapult your start up into a thriving company.
1. What are your go-to operations for creating a brand, PR platform or strategy for your existing client base.
(HINT: Their answer should not be solely reliant on"social media" and "Facebook")
2. What information do you need from me in order to make the most of our time together?
(HINT: This is where you should be asked a vast amount of questions about your business goals, methods you've used in the past and other genre related inquiries).
3. What results should I expect to see after during and after our contract?
(HINT: A consultant may be reluctant to make promises but they should state what they hope to see from their expertise in terms of ROI and brand recognition).
4. Will I be working mostly with you or will you be outsourcing any parts of this arrangement?
(HINT: It's perfectly normal for consultants to hire out pieces of a project, but this information should be upfront and transparent)
5. Outside of our contract terms, should I anticipate any other related costs associated with XYZ?
(HINT: E-Commerce, Launch parties, SMM, advertisements, branding materials, etc- are all additional costs that are to be expected with any large scale strategy, but your consult should be able to give you basic expense range with each project).
Consultants are most often times hard working, driven entrepreneurs who WANT to see each and every client succeed far beyond their expectations. As a business owner, researching your team of experts is an integral part of creating a lasting business model. Some questions you should ask yourself before making a final decision should be:
1. Was I impressed with their understanding of my goals and expectations (and how to get there)
2. Did I feel as if I was being heard
3. Do I like/appreciate their personal marketing strategies IE: Their personal branding, logos, websites, social media accounts, etc.
4. Do I trust that they are able to speak on behalf of my business.
Go forth, incredible entrepreneurs <3
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