You would hire a digital marketing consultant because you recognise that its more efficient to get someone in who can help fill a gap.  But how do you go about finding the best person for you to work with?

I have recently moved into consulting so I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the attributes that my new clients are telling me they value.

During my time as an agency owner I have hired many consultants for different purposes so I have an appreciation of the issues from the hiring side as well as the supplier side.

Whether you have worked with a digital marketing consultant or not I thought it would be interesting to look at the attributes that I feel make someone good at this type of role.

1. Experience

I can’t imagine any consultant has rolled out of bed and decided to tread this path without experience. To fill the identified gap effectively your chosen person needs to have a wealth of relevant experience.

For example you might be a design and build agency that has no technical SEO experience in-house. Partnering with a consultant is a low risk but effective way to inject that missing skill set into your service offering.

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2. Ability to Understand and Evaluate Your Needs

A business owner is likely to have different needs to their team when it comes to working with a digital marketing consultant. The level of detail required by a business owner is often higher than the person who needs to manage or learn directly from them.

A good consultant will quickly understand what is needed to inspire confidence and get the job done efficiently and effectively.

3. Problem Solving Skills

In the digital marketing sector there are plenty of ‘problems’ to be solved. Some are easier to solve than others and experience will likely dictate that. Other issues will take more resourcefulness and perseverance.

With problems such as “I need more traffic to my website” or “I need more conversions” there will be many different possible solutions. But they will come with no absolute guarantees and/or varying degrees of cost. This leads nicely onto…

4. Ability to Present and Educate

A digital marketing consultant would probably be covering an area that is complex for you. You may not understand it at all, have misconceptions or partial knowledge.

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Whatever the situation the right consultant needs to be able to communicate in a clear and concise way so that you acquire the level of knowledge you need to feel confident in the outcome.

5. Accessibility and Support

While acknowledging that your consultant is on a clock of some sort you don’t want them to be a clock watcher. You will need to ask questions when they come up and a good partner will, in my opinion, be accessible via phone and email.

Even after the project is completed there may be questions that you should be able to follow up without feeling that you need to re-engage them. Be mindful of their time though, if you try to spread them too thin then they won’t feel that you are a good client for them.

6. An Approach That Is Compatible With Your Own

I struggled with this subtitle as I feel this is wrapped up with ‘having a likable personality’ and an ‘ability to build trust’. Its good practice to meet with your prospective consultant face-to-face before you agree to work together. That could be through a video call but you should look each other in the eye!

You need to have a good gut instinct that this is the right person to help you. If your approaches are different then it could be a unproductive arrangement. If your personalities clash then its not going to work.

If your consultant displays concern or empathy with your situation then this is more likely to help build trust.

7. Passion

You can’t fake passion for your topic and I would recommend that you look out for the signs. The commitment and dedication that a passionate digital consultant demonstrates for your project is bound to make you feel happier about the relationship.

A good consultant is there to assist you with improving your business. They will be providing strategic insights that are difficult for those within the organisation to achieve on their own. Working in partnership is the best way to achieve results. If you can get a fist pump reaction from achieving a goal then all the better!

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My osteopath does a little celebratory first pump when he gets a loud cracking sound from crunching my back. It makes me laugh and keeps me going back for more. Just shows you can have passion for any topic!

In Conclusion

Only you can decide if you have hired the right consultant who will do the best job. There are many consultants in the digital marketing space to chose from. Talk to a few before you make your final decision to give you an idea if they are fit for your purpose.

I hope this has provided some food for thought both to those looking to hire a digital consultant and also those out there who are offering this valuable service.

Which attributes would you add or challenge? Feedback in the comments is always welcome.

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Post originally published on LinkedIn Pulse

I’m a digital marketing strategy consultant working with agencies and businesses to help them grow. Having built a successful digital agency from 2 to 50 people over 12 years I can share my experiences and help avoid some of the inevitable mistakes that come with the pace of change in the digital marketing industry.

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