Marketing, Marketing Consultancy, Marketing planning, Marketing strategy

As a professional marketer since 1995 I’ve worked with many business leaders. Some had been through the process of bringing in a marketing consultant while others had no idea where to start. If you hire a sales and marketing consultant you want to make sure you hire the right person. Set up a successful relationship from the start to make sure you get the most for your investment. This information will help you do that.

Are they are legitimate consultant?

Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone who has decided that they’re a consultant when in reality they’re between jobs. You run the risk that they may walk out on you mid project if they get an offer of full time employment.

Can they provide references?

If they’re a good consultant that has generated results then their clients will have no problem telling you about it. Unless, of course the consultant has worked largely in confidence and both parties are precluded from discussing it due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Have they provided examples of their work?

Don’t simply take someone’s word for it if they tell you they have done certain types of work. Ask them to show you samples of marketing strategies and plans, sales tools and presentations that they’ve delivered for clients.

Are they willing to structure a deal in a way that works for you?

Consultant work is generally done either on a project basis or daily basis. Project based fees can work well for you as long as the project is straightforward.  The objectives and milestones should be clearly defined and the project should not change substantially once things are underway. Daily fees are good if the consultant gives you a weekly/monthly status report to account for their time and what they worked on.

Have they written a proposal with deliverables, milestones and payment terms?

A good consultant will provide you with a proposal that outlines the work, milestones and payment terms. Sometimes, in order to get a project moving quickly it isn’t always completely clear what the deliverables should be. If this is the case the proposal should outline the top level objectives and milestones should be agreed within the first week or so.

Does the consultant have the appropriate level of experience for the tasks you need accomplished?

Don’t hire a senior consultant if you need low level marketing work done. Similarly, be cautious of consultants who are more junior and promise the world. It’s tempting to hire someone who seems good and has a lower rate, but when they present to your Board they need to make the cut.

Does the marketing consultant offer the appropriate mix of strategy versus execution for your needs?

Some consultants are strategy only. They’ll help you figure out the big picture and provide you with a plan but refuse to get involved from that point on. Others are more hands on and have the desire to do both. The key is to make sure you don’t hire a strategist when you need execution, and vice versa.

Do you “click” and have complementary working styles?

This is undoubtedly the most important factor. If you don’t have good rapport with the consultant the project could turn out to be a disaster. For example, if they work off-site all the time and you want to bounce ideas around you’re going to have a problem.

Make sure they’re trustworthy and devoted to the highest quality outcomes. It’s important that you can speak freely and frankly. You should get things out in the open quickly and work with someone who shares your vision.


Marketing, Marketing planning, Marketing strategy, Strategy

Embarking on a re-brand is an exciting business decision but there’s a few things to bear in mind before getting carried away with colours and fonts.

1. The brand is more than just the logo, stationery or corporate colours
Brands include everything from customer perception and experience to quality, look and feel. Other important factors are customer care, retail and web environments and the tone and voice of communications.

2. Existing brand equity and goodwill
Dismissing brand equity when re-branding alienates established customers, while unnecessary overhauls can undermine brand perception. Consider the needs of your target audience before digging into the process. Sometimes a small evolution is all that’s needed to make a brand relevant.

3. The re-brand is more than a superficial face lift
The re-brand story must be believable, given the existing brand experience and customer perception. It must also hold credibility internally. If employees who live the brand don’t believe in it, the target audience won’t either.

4. Address the basics
The value of perfecting your physical environment, marketing materials and website is decreased if your customers are kept waiting on the phone or if your contracts are full of jargon. Keep all customer touch points in mind when re-branding.

5. Remember people don’t always do what they say
Use caution when basing re-branding strategies on focus group research. Unless you are actually observing customers using your product or service you are not getting the full story. Personal observation will get you a lot closer to the right solution.

6. Know your brand
Remember, you know more about your brand than anyone else. Although there is obviously great value in a fresh external perspective.

7. Plan ahead for adaptation
It’s tempting for your team members to walk away after the final re-brand presentation. However, this is just the beginning of the final stretch. The implementation process may require adaptation as the re-brand rolls out.

8. Re-brand without research at your peril
There’s a lot of lip service paid about listening to customers, but in brand strategy sessions they’re often forgotten. Current and prospective customers should be front and centre when re-branding. After all, the customer’s reaction will be your ultimate test.

9. Don’t base a re-brand on advertising
An ad campaign and a slogan don’t make for brand positioning. Brand strategy should lead advertising – not the other way around. Often the most effective re-brands don’t include advertising at all.

10. Broaden your thinking
Focusing solely on your own industry can be limiting. When re-branding, cross-pollinate your thinking with what leaders in other industries are doing in customer experience and customer care.