A few years back, a client hired me to help with their digital a client hired me to help them with their digital marketing campaign.
Now – I like to consider myself as a digital marketing consultant who loves to streamline marketing…sorry – digital marketing for my clients by reviewing their businesses.
And that pretty much defines my simple approach to digital marketing consulting.
I know my approach sounds boring on the face and at times, I do feel like a dull clerk sitting in a government office.
But once I have all the information I asked from the client with me – the boring makes way for enjoyable.
Coming back to the story – so I ask my clients to send me all the information about their business, their marketing objectives and what is it they expect from digital marketing.
The in-house marketing division of client politely declined my request with a not so polite email clear lt starting that they are ‘not entertaining my long list of demands’.
Rather than entertaining my demand for information – they intend to tell me what they want from me and will provide me with selective information.
So, again I was back to my clerical job twisting my thumbs – waiting for ‘the selective information’ to come from the client.
And then on a dull Tuesday, came an exciting email with what my client wanted.
They wanted to get started with PPC Campaigns and compliment it with a bit of SEO & SMM.
It seems – before approaching me to streamline their digital marketing campaigns, they had already met a few digital marketing agencies and by now, they had learned enough to lead their digital marketing campaigns.
All they wanted was some expert digital marketing consulting to show them the way.
I refused the job.
Some of you might call me arrogant or stupid for refusing a business.
But hear me out – I wasn’t any of the ‘glorified’ words I used above.
Instead, I was wise in refusing a client that anyways (after a few months), would have parted ways with me on bad terms.
After years of working with digital marketing clients across the globe, one clear sign of a failed project for me is when clients want wrong digital marketing consulting.
For them, Digital Marketing is required because the organisation is willing to pay for one.
Rather than use the expertise of the Consultant – they decide what they want and use the Consultant to validate their plans or put a ‘Good to go’ rubber stamp on the project.
Why do you need digital marketing consulting?
Let me answer the question by asking you another question – what do consultants do?
Now – don’t roll your eyes.
I know all the Consultant jokes you guys crack behind our back and they are not funny.
Well – some are.
Here is a funny one that I love to tell my clients before they hire me a consultant to help them with their digital marketing consulting job.
Question: How many senior consultants does it take to change a lightbulb?
Answer: Just one.
Why? : He holds up the bulb and waits for the world to revolve around him.
Jokes apart – you need a digital marketing consultant to help you spend your money wisely in reaching your goals.
In layman language, a digital marketing consulting helps up avoid some simple mistakes like choosing the wrong medium to promote your brand or paying a fee equivalent to the PPC campaign budget to a digital marketing agency.
Yeah – it happens.
A friend’s company recently found out that a company got them into a 2-year contract a year back by contractually paying them a dollar for every dollar spent on the advertisement with a min spends of 20K $ every month.
Please go ahead and take out the calculator – do the maths.
This is the deal of the century where the client told the vendor ‘I would make you an offer you won’t be able to refuse’.
And the vendor said – yes ?.
Those are the kind of digital marketing mistakes organisations make.
They sign one-sided contracts or sign contracts for services that their organisation does not need.
Let me elaborate more on how digital marketing consultants can help you.
How about a simple question ‘What do you think is the ideal length of a blog post?’
Articles that are >3,000 words get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and 3.5x more backlinks than shorter articles. (SEMrush, 2019) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Now that’s my answer to everyone who has loved to write 600 to 800-word thin content blogs on their website, waiting for google to consider them as authority websites.
Imagine stuck with a digital agency that did not even take into consideration a simple statistic like this before designing your blogging strategy.
This is where smarty pants – digital marketing consultants like me come in and help you align your digital marketing strategy to your goal.
You need to hire a digital marketing consultant to:
- Plan a new digital marketing strategy to optimally spend the money or get the best ROI.
- Oversee the work done by different agencies. It’s a common sight to see companies work with multiple agencies that work in isolation and the internal marketing team is inexperienced in connecting the work done by all agencies. The digital marketing consultant helps you connect the dots.
- Make sense of numbers. Digital Marketing reports can be a challenge for a lot of us. It is not easy to make sense of numbers. It is where a digital marketing consultant can tell you the hidden opportunities, the future course of action and the pages/content that is wasted on the website.
- Help set up short term and long term goals mapped to the budget or better – help set up a short and long term digital marketing budget
Once your mind is made up about hiring a digital marketing consultant, it’s time to move to the next stage of hiring a digital marketing consultant.
Tips for hiring a digital marketing consultant :
- Look for a Problem Solver
A few years back, no one had thought that digital marketing would be the next big thing in marketing.
Today, Digital Marketing is an integral part of every marketing strategy.
It is a place where the internet and marketing come together to create magic.
As a client, you want a digital marketing consultant who can explain to you the best approach for your brand in layman language and can quickly dive into complex concepts as and when the project requires.
One of the biggest challenges I have personally seen as a digital marketing consultant is clients getting overwhelmed with so many ways of doing digital marketing.
There is SEO, Paid Ads, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing and a new way to promote coming every day.
When I meet clients, the initial set of question thrown at me are
‘How are we going to distribute our budget?’
‘Are we going to use all digital marketing methods or only one of them?’
‘What according to you is the best way to move our digital marketing strategy?’
What is the answer to the above question?
Well – it depends on who you are asking thins question ?.
If you are talking to an SEO Agency, the answer is SEO and predictably, PPC it is for a certified Google partner.
Pay them the money for PPC ads and google rewards them for meeting targets – at your expense ?.
Jokes apart – the answer to these questions lies in the ability of the digital marketing consultant to wear the thinking hat and use the experience to come back with a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
You need someone who can easily explain you the best strategy for your business
- Let’s talk past case studies
I prefer a digital marketing consultant who has past case studies where they can relate to my problem.
As a client, nothing would satisfy me more than hiring a digital marketing consultant who can listen to my problem and can confidently say ‘Been there. Done that and Nailed it’.
Note – please do not get stuck to industry level experience.
I know it helps to hire consultants who have a business domain knowledge of your industry but it gets really annoying when clients ask ‘How many companies similar to ours have you worked with?’
Being a digital marketing consultant, I hate to pick up more than a few clients from the same industry and run their parallel campaigns.
For me, it is a simple conflict of interest.
Imagine me running two campaigns for two travel agencies vying for a top spot on google for the keyword’ best travel agency in Melbourne’.
Who do I get to rank first?
The one who pays me more or the one who is nicer to me?
Baffles me – when clients expect you to have worked with ten same types of businesses in the past.
- Is the Consultant credible?
The word ‘credible’ means – do you have 1 or 2 past clients of the Consultant to speak with.
Suppose the digital marketing consultant is a new vendor in the market but comes with tones of experience from the corporate world. In that case, you can very well skip the question and instead focus on their expertise and how aligned it is to your business’s pain points.
Steps to proceed, when you have hired a digital marketing consultant:
You do not want to come unprepared while explaining your requirements to a digital marketing consultant.
A bit of a preparedness always helps to tell the digital marketing consultant about the challenges your organisation faces and then, hear their response and experiences to understand – how can they help you in the journey?
Alrighty, then – let’s get started.
The first thing they would want to know is some information about your project. I usually give my clients four questions when we meet for the first time digital marketing consultation.
The points are:
- Brief about what the organisation does.
Think of it as a warm-up where you give a brief about your organisation and what it does.
Please do not tell the Consultant that your website has all the information.
I have had a few clients tell me that and as soon as they get lazy with discussions, I get more sluggish with my answers ?.
Always remember, getting a consultant on board will cost you money. You do not want to come across as someone unprepared to spend money wisely. Please do your homework.
- What all digital presence does your organisation have?
Remember the long-dead Twitter account your company set up a few years back and then; no one tweeted on it.
It is a digital presence that your organisation has.
Please add it to your list and also add everything that your company uses to interact with everyone on the internet – including email newsletters, social media accounts, websites, etc.
- Have they ever done a digital marketing campaign? If yes, what challenges did they face with the campaign
Campaign discussion is the most critical part of your conversation.
You, my friend, are meeting a digital marketing consultant because something, somewhere in your company’s digital world did not go right.
Time to discuss – the good, the bad, the ugly.
I usually prefer to answer coming in reverse order ?.
The Ugly – You company spent a lot of money last year only to get zero results.
The bad – You got into a three-year contract with a digital marketing agency without knowing what you wanted and now you are stuck
The good – despite all the mess, the positive is – the board or the executives in the organisation understand that without digital marketing, the marketing will eventually fail.
- Lastly, What is it that the client expects from a digital marketing consultant?
By now, a smart digital marketing consultant would have figured out your pain points.
The Consultant would know what did not go right for you and how the consulting (whether a one-off arrangement or an ongoing arrangement) can help your organisation use your digital marketing spent – optimally.
And – that’s it from my side.
Before I end, a quick question and answer to help you make an informed decision of hiring a digital marketing consultant.
Why do all the digital marketing agencies not start with a digital marketing consulting?
They do not talk about digital marketing consulting because that involves building a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
A strategy that might involve services that their company does not sell and then, there is the impatient client who wants quick results.
So, what is sold to the client is one of the lines of work in digital marketing:
- Paid ads
- Content marketing
No one connects the dots or probably, does not want to connect the dots.