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Publisher's Note
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10 Questions You Must Ask Before You Hire a Marketing Consultant

Companies typically hire marketing consultants for the following reasons:

a. For an outsider's perspective, void of internal politics;

b. To perform functions that aren't typically handled internally;

c. To connect that company with pools of talent it wouldn't otherwise know/have access to;

d. To gain expertise in a field that a company is about to enter.

Below are the 10 must-ask questions you need answered before you sign on the dotted line with a Marketing Consultant:

1. What have you done lately? Ask any consultant exactly what activities he or she has been up to in the past year.

2. Which clients? Either get testimonials or permission to check in with those clients.

3. What did you do before the Internet? If you're looking at an SEM (Search Engine Marketing) consultant, email marketing consultant, Web designer, etc., ask what he or she did prior to getting into the Net. Why did they leave what they were doing?

4. What is the endgame of the involvement? What value will you have after the marketing consultant leaves?

5. Who are the competitors? The answer to this question often tells you how the consultant views him or herself.

6. Why hire you over the competition? It sounds like a rude question, but the prospective consultant should have a clear and definable point of differentiation. It's good for you to know what that is (and for the consultant to know as well). If the consultant says he or she has no competitors, beware.

7. Are you published? Ask the prospective consultant where he or she has had articles published. How prestigious are those publications? Has he or she been quoted in trade publications? How about in "horizontal publications" like The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and so forth?

8. Are you an author? Does your consultant have enough clout and content to have a book published? If so, who is the publisher? Have you heard of the publisher, and how many books have sold? What is the ranking for that book on Amazon?

9. What do you think of our company's efforts thus far in your field of expertise? If the consultant gives you a frank assessment and pulls no punches, you may have a good fit.

10. What industries do you focus on? Typically, a marketing consultant will have deeper experience in certain industries than others. It's rare that a marketing consultant can be a "plug-n-play" player in any and all industries. There's just too much to learn on the fly, and, after all, you want that consultant to be teaching you more than you're teaching him or her. LC


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