Hiring a freelance marketing consultant? How to get the best out of a good consultant.
So, you’ve identified the need for a freelance marketing consultant. Excellent choice!
OK, I’m a little biased, but I do know that using a freelancer can be a great option for many businesses. But, now you have your freelancer, how will you get the best value from them?
I’ve put together four suggestions to ensure you get the most out of your marketer. This is based on my own experience working with clients as a freelance marketing professional, but also as an in-house marketer hiring freelancers and contractors myself.
Be confident your marketing consultant can deliver
I always offer new clients the opportunity to speak to my current clients. I do this because I see marketing as a business investment. It’s so important that you’re confident that your freelancer will do what they say they will.
The best way to find this out is to talk to their current or previous clients. Find out what their experience of working with the freelancer has been. Have they delivered what they said they would? Did they do so within time and budget?
Another thing that I would advise is to ask what qualifications your freelancer has. It amazes me that a business would hire someone to write a strategic marketing plan but they don’t check that they hold the relevant marketing qualifications. Afterall, you’d never hire an accountant without the relevant qualifications, you should apply the same thinking to your selection of a marketing professional.
Think about budget
You’ll have already assigned a budget and discussed this with your freelancer. But, I would urge you to ask yourself whether paying a day rate is the best approach? Some freelancers work faster than others. Some marketing projects are much more time-consuming than others.
Ask yourself whether paying a day rate will deliver the best value to you?
If it’s ad hoc marketing support, then a day rate is probably fine. But if it’s a more complex or in-depth project, for example, a marketing audit or a strategic marketing plan, you might be best off negotiating a project cost. This works well for both parties in ensuring there is no project creep, but it helps you to keep budgets under control.
It’s also worth asking your marketing consultant how they keep track of their time. If they are working on a day rate, you want to know how much time they are spending. There are plenty of time tracking systems out there, so ask your freelancer which one they use and ask that they submit timesheets with invoices.
Set expectations early on and share information
There’s a reason you’ve sought out a marketing professional. While you may not know what your marketing challenge is (and that’s why you’ve sought out a professional), you will have a clear view of what success looks like.
Make sure you communicate this to your freelancer.
Your marketing consultant will ask questions about current marketing and business performance, so be clear and honest with them. They will need to do a lot of knowledge gathering to ensure they can do the best job possible for you. You’ll get better results if you allow them to access the information they need. This could be:
- Access to any customer research and client data
- Financial information (P&L, sales figures)
- Access to Google Analytics
- Interviews with your leadership team and clients
Your freelance marketing consultant may make observations that come as a surprise to you, particularly if you haven’t conducted any client research yourself for some time. It’s always good to put aside your own assumptions and be open-minded about the information your freelancer comes back with.
Another great plus point about using a freelancer is that they will have worked with a number of organisations during their career. While they certainly wouldn’t share sensitive data about other clients, they will have a lot of insight into how other businesses have tackled similar issues to your own.
They can usually offer a useful perspective to a problem you might have been struggling with for a while.
Reporting and measures
Whatever marketing activity your freelancer is delivering, you should always agree how you are going to measure success. Whether you’re measuring results internally (number of inbound enquiries, increase in revenue from existing clients etc), or whether your freelancer is setting up specific Google Analytics reports, you should always make the time to discuss results with them and identify ways to improve marketing performance.
Finally, remember that the best freelance/client relationship is just that. A relationship. Built on mutual trust and a shared desire to tackle the marketing challenges at hand. Your marketing consultant will be just as motivated as you are to achieve the marketing results you need. If they’re not, well maybe, it’s time to look for someone else?
And, a blatant plug I know, but why not give my outsourced marketing services a try? You won’t be disappointed.