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Finding a marketing supplier

How do you do outsource your marketing activities without being taken advantage of or wasting precious time or money? Watch out for these five warning signs:

1. The consultant has no qualifications

It is important to clarify the question of qualifications of any marketing consultant you meet or plan to hire.

One of my frustrations is meeting consultants who have no qualifications in what they claim to be expert at. There are many types and levels of qualifications available, and if you’re looking to hire a committed professional marketing consultant or marketing manager, then ask for their qualifications.

2. The price seems too low

Finding the service you want at the best possible price can be a tricky situation. Obviously you don’t want to pay any more than you need to, but in my experience, a very low price is a good way of identifying someone who won’t be in business for very long.

“If you’re serious about your brand, don’t you want to work with a marketing consultant who’s serious about theirs?”

You’re in business to make a profit, and your consultant should be too. If their rates are too low, they will either go broke or realise they can make more money from being a paid employee and close up shop.

If you’ve spent time briefing and working with a consultant who ends up going out of business, then you’ll pretty much be back at square one. Do you really want that?

3. The consultant’s website looks cheap or dated

Like many other people, I’ve used cheap web developers for start-ups and have found them great for those circumstances.

However, as a marketing consultant, I recommend that my clients invest heavily in their brands and marketing communication tools, and I believe it’s important that I practice what I preach.

To me, a marketing consultant with an old (or worse, no website), cheap graphic design or printing services, is not serious about what they do. If you’re serious about your brand, don’t you want to work with a marketing consultant who’s serious about theirs?

4. Lack of written agreements

Do you want the easy come, easy go approach? Think of the last time you bought a car. Aside from the nice salesperson and free cappuccino they offered you, at the end of the day you were asked to sign a contract of some sort. If your consultant is serious about working with you, they’ll ask you to do the same and will be in it for the long term.

Written agreements are an important way of managing client expectations. At the very least, you should expect to receive a written proposal or quote for services with terms and conditions documents to sign.

5. Track record with similar sized clients

Do you want to be the first client for an emerging marketing consultant? Look for a marketer that can demonstrate recent capabilities and projects in areas that you are interested in. Just like interviewing a potential employee, don’t be afraid to ask for their project management experience.

A confident marketing professional will be able to provide you with examples of their recent work including the objectives, indicative budget, the marketing strategy, how the marketing program worked and a top line summary of the results, providing you with a level of confidence. If not, you’re best advised to find someone else to work with.

Bonus tips

Other points you may like to ask a marketing consultant before you outsource your marketing include:

Can I have an exclusivity agreement for my industry?

Can I have two references to call to check your work?

Do you agree to my payment terms?

What key performance indicators do you recommend we focus on for my business?