Marketing consultants can be important to the success of small businesses. They offer an unbiased, fresh perspective on your business, growth opportunities, and preferred target customers. The right marketing consultant can identify, develop and implement strategies that can successfully grow your business by:
Selecting and building a relationship with the right marketing consultant is a key step to achieving success for your business.
Before hiring a marketing consultant, it is a good idea to review your business goals -- both short and longer term.
In addition, clarify what kind of relationship and personality you are looking for in partnering with your consultant. If you do this, it will make it much easier to identify the consultant with the competencies, experience and communication style that most closely matches your needs.
Six questions to ask when choosing your Marketing Consultant:
1)Tell me about your expertise -- what is your background?
This may seem obvious, but there are many self-proclaimed “marketing gurus” out there, so beware. A solid education in Business is a must and an MBA / Masters in Marketing a big plus. Marketing affects other areas of the business and the consultant should be able to grasp the whole picture before recommending marketing plans.
Marketing consultants develop different skills and specialties throughout their careers. Look for a consultant with a skills profile that matches your requirements. For example, if you need to develop a strategy for growth, ask about the consultant’s strategic capabilities. If your target market is local, you’ll want the consultant to understand the opportunities in the area.
2)Have you worked with small businesses?
Experience owning and/or working with small business is a BIG plus. Small businesses have many unique challenges larger established companies do not. Understanding those challenges takes “time in the trenches” to fully appreciate. Just as important, your marketing consultant must be able to demonstrate experience and success in solving the types of challenges your company faces.
3) What tools or processes do you use in your work?
Consultants often use business models and other tools. Understanding their approach to gathering information and working through a project may help you determine if it’s appropriate for your situation. It will also show you if the consultant follows a process, versus falling back on "canned" solutions that worked for one firm but may not work for yours.
4) Am I comfortable working with this person?
The working relationship between you, your key partners/employees and the marketing consultant is extremely important. Your consultant’s communication style, personal branding/business values and level of commitment should be compatible with yours and your company’s. Do they use words implying themselves as telling and selling or partnering, creating and facilitating? Assess if they are a “hands-on” partner during implementation or more consultative. These are extremely critical expectations that you and your consultant need to understand and agree upon before the relationship begins.
5) Does the consultant have time for me?
Understanding the consultant’s resources/network and client load is a consideration for you. How many clients do they have? Do they have specialists they can call on when needed? Having many clients often sounds good but is not necessarily better for small business owners. A consultant that is a dedicated partner to a few clients can spend more time understanding and focusing on your business and is always there quickly when needed.
6) Can I talk with references?
Last but not least, ask for references and call them. Check out their LinkedIn profile for recommendations. These references can give you insight into the consultant’s capabilities, working style and character.
Choosing the right marketing consultant for you and your business can be one of the most critical and rewarding decisions you make. Asking the questions outlined above while talking with potential marketing consultants will help to ensure a productive successful partnership.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions on working with a marketing consultant, please contact us!
When considering marketing options for new business, owners often ask about websites.
Questions like Do I really need a website? or How much will I have to spend? are frequently on their minds. There is a good reason for this – a website is a major investment of time and resources.
So if this is something that you've been thinking about, keep reading! We've compiled the following considerations, recommendations, and cost estimates to help you.
Question 1 -- Do you need a website?
Yes. A website is a recommended investment in the success of your business.
A well-developed website:
Note: There are a very few small businesses that can survive totally on word of mouth or by having a great location. But for the vast majority of businesses, prospective customers will use the website as a verification that you are a real business.
Question 2 – how much should you expect to spend?
The answer depends on your business situation - the type of business, the profile of preferred customers and the marketing strategy to attract them.
Effectively launching or reinvigorating a business goes beyond creating a website and includes developing a marketing strategy with more than one way to attract customers. So how much you should spend depends on several factors -- look for options that fit your business goals and budget.
Thanks for reading! For questions on websites or marketing strategies to grow your business, contact us.
What direction is marketing going in 2019?
According to recent research reports, there are 5 trends that local businesses and professional practices should watch closely in the year ahead:
1. The Need for Speed (for Mobile)
Google has made it clear that the time it takes for your site to load on a mobile device is extremely important and will be used as a factor in determining search ranking. This had been driven by more consumers using mobile devices -- they tend to be impatient. Slow pages will lose out!
2. The Ever-Growing Importance of Online Reviews and Ratings
Local businesses already know they benefit from having good online reviews and ratings. But these are growing in importance -- these evaluations are not just nice to have but should become an essential part of your marketing strategy. A recent survey found that 86% of US consumers consult online reviews and ratings when evaluating local businesses.
3. Customer Reviews Growing Impact on Search Engine Optimization
Because online reviews and ratings are so highly valued by consumers, they can now impact local search engine optimization (SEO). Google appears to be incorporating high ratings and positive reviews in ranking mapped local business. This means that without a number of good reviews and ratings, your practice may be less easily found in search results.
4. Google My Business Increases Importance
After phasing out G+, Google put more emphasis on their Google My Business platform. If you only have time for one marketing activity, update your Google My Business listing! An analysis by Moz of local search rank factors found that Google My Business elements — the specified address, keywords, categories, etc.— have the most influence on local pack results and the fourth-most influence on organic results overall.
5. Facebook Changes and Recommendations Become More Valuable
Facebook has also had a series of recent product changes. These include easier options for highlighting things like special events and sales. In addition, Facebook has emphasized Recommendations, a feature that allows people to suggest firms they like by using text, photos, and tags.
If you’d like to discuss how to best use these trends to help your business this year, let me know and we’ll set up a phone chat!
Do you feel like no one is reading the content you've so carefully composed, edited and maybe even sweated over?
If so, you have a good deal of company -- there are many blogs out there and very few business owners start with a large following! To help you get more readers, here are some tips from Neil Patel (who should know, as he averages 37,000+ visitors to his blog) :
Thanks for reading! Let me know if any of these work for you. :)
If you need more ideas, go to the link for Neil's original post -- you can find it between post 902 and 903.
Whether you are an established business or just starting out, your website is an important vehicle for prospective clients to find and become interested in your services. It should be a great representative of your brand and the expertise you offer.
Does your site contain the information your prospects need to consider your firm?
Let's start with some facts. According to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Marketing Professional Services, SMPS, there are five types of information prospective buyers look for:
#1 Expertise /Project Descriptions -- Prospects check for expertise to see if the firm has successful experience with projects that are similar to the one that they are looking to hire an outside firm to help with.
#2 Firm profile/history -- Prospects visit this section to learn about a firm’s size, longevity and priorities to see if they should contact them. They might also look for credentials, methodology, value or techniques/process. For example, for Architecture and Engineering firms, they may check for an ACASS rating (rating from the Federal Government) or professional memberships.
#3 Services provided -- This section helps prospective clients verify that the firm can provide the types of service(s) that they need. Examples can help illustrate expertise and this information could be on the same page as the project descriptions.
#4 Client lists -- The fourth most visited area is client lists. Viewing a client list gives a prospect the confidence knowing the firm has worked for others in their industry. Testimonials are also helpful.
#5 Staff info -- While this area was only visited by 24% of respondents of the survey, when asked about what things they would have liked to check that they did not find on websites, they answered staff information, especially qualifications and certifications in the biographies of the staff.
Other items that impact prospect perceptions include:
Quality of the site itself – typos, difficult navigation, or outdated web design were sited as items that reflected negatively on the quality of the firm.
Inconsistent Branding - images, content and graphics that do not reflect the companies values, culture and offerings.
Contact information – it is important that there is a way to contact the firm on each page.
Does your website provide the key information listed above a way that supports your brand and business development efforts? If you are not sure if it does, please contact us to schedule a website review.
Other blogs on this topic:
'Tis the season to thank your customers!
Thanking your customers is a simple but effective gesture to let them know you appreciate them. This can be done in many ways. Here are a few:
Note: However you choose to appreciate your customers, remember to stay consistent with your brand values.
For example, if your values include supporting the local community, choose treats from non-profits or gift from locally-owned businesses. In the Triangle area, Life Experiences, Inc offers wonderful brownie and cookie trays for your office or key customers. For those environmentally minded, the World Wildlife Fund has a array of choices. Or instead of gifts, you could donate to a charity of their choice.
Do you have some innovative ways your company appreciates your customers this holiday season? What type of customer appreciation do you value most?
Or if you know of a non-profit with ideas for customer gifts, please feel free to share the links in the comments.
Thank you for reading! We appreciate our readers and wish you a wonderful holiday season!
Are you posting more but getting less from your efforts? As a small business marketer or owner, you only have so much time and resources. Explore the eight questions below to see how you can increase your social media impact.
About our Blog:
Marketing Tips is dedicated to providing busy professionals and local businesses with information on marketing trends, strategy and tactics in a way that is both accurate and easy to read.