Did you know that in 2015 over 193,000 businesses¹ retained the services of a marketing consultant? Whoa! That’s a ton of much-needed help and support given. And why not? Marketing consultants are critical to the success of many businesses both large and small.
There are so many benefits of hiring a marketing consultant, not only because I myself am one, but consultants help businesses turn themselves around, gain clarity, renew purpose, and breathe new life and excitement into an organization.
9 Signs You Desperately Need to Hire a Marketing Consultant
If you’re a business owner who’s been contemplating hiring a marketing consultant, and finding excuses NOT to hire one, think twice about what you’re losing by not getting off the dime. If you’re concerned about cost, there’s consultants available for retainer work or project-by-project basis.
If you’re experiencing any of these 9 signs below, it’s time to request an exploratory consultation.
Sign #1. Business Has Stalled
The ruin of many a business. Sales can get stagnant. All businesses have a lifecycle: Inception, growth, maturity, decline, renew/rebirth or death. Sounds morbid I know, but absolutely true for all business—even yours. To put an even finer point on it: If you’re not growing, you’re contracting.
Some businesses seem to be better than others at reinventing themselves and offering fresh, new, relevant products and services. But how do they do it? With new IDEAS, that’s how.
A consultant can offer a fresh perspective and bring new ideas to the table. Sometimes you can simply get “too close” to a product or service and can’t see the forest from the trees. A consultant can help you take a step back, regroup, and give you different perspectives or views of your industry, offer a unique vision on your competition, or provide new product ideas.
Sign #2. No New Leads or a Dwindling Pipeline
The second ruin of many a business. If your leads have dried up or your sales pipeline has slowed in recent months, it may be time to review your messaging, copywriting, content marketing efforts, and product offering.
Have you considered how technology can help your lead generation efforts? Or how social media, Facebook advertising, study groups, or product sampling and demos can help your prospecting? A consultant can talk through new business development pathways to generate more leads.
Sign #3. An Underperforming Website
So how do you know if your website is underperforming? Consider this:
- Are you getting daily inquiries through your website?
- Are prospects signing up to join your email list weekly?
- Do you even have a way to capture email addresses?
- Are you offering a free item to whet the appetite of those curious about your products or services?
- Do you feel like it could be better?
- Does it need an overhaul?
- Is it stale?
- When was the last time you updated it with fresh information or content?
Here is where marketing consultants can really have a tremendous impact. They can bring ideas from outside of your industry and supply best practices and creative ideas to keep your website on the leading-edge of technology and coolness.
It’s always important to stay tuned in to the latest bells, whistles, and strategies to create a website that does the prospecting for you and can help qualify leads and segment people into “buckets of interest” automatically. A consultant can help you use testimonials, drawings, or email opt-ins to support your lead generation efforts.
- 94% of Business to Business buyers research online for purchase decisions²
- 77% use Google search
- 84.3% check business websites
- 34% percent visit third party websites
- 41% percent read user reviews
— Angela Murphy✏ (@justpositionit) September 10, 2016
Sign #4. A Limp or Nonexistent Social Media Presence
Are you confused when it comes to social media? Are you unsure about what social platforms will work for you or your business? Are you unsure what content may work well on Twitter vs. Facebook vs. LinkedIn? A savvy consultant can help you analyze the most popular platforms, help you devise a step-by-step action plan, and show you ways to track ROI and impact.
Social media can be a powerful addition or supplement to your business.
- 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying³
Sign #5. Lack of Internal Resources
How many companies have this problem? We all need more resources. This is likely a primary reason for using consultants. Consultants can absolutely help act as a powerful resource and “get the work done” that you simply don’t have the capacity to do in-house.
Additionally, consultants typically have access to pools of talent at a marginal cost, compared to hiring a full-time employee. Are there exceptions to this rule depending on the type of consulting work you need? Sure. But hiring a consultant will usually save your company money in the long run simply due to the finite or short-term, fee-based nature of consulting work.
Sign #6. Speed to Market Issues
You need that new product, service, or book to hit the market pronto.
Internal bureaucracy can get in the way of beginning and completing a major project or initiative. Who will take credit for it? Whose idea was it? Who will sign off on the project? How will the work get done? Is there agreement on the direction of the project? Will other internal priorities shift resources away from the project?
Use a consultant. Outsourcing major projects or portions of major projects can ensure that internal jockeying or priority shifts don’t derail an initiative, and can help your business get your product or service into the marketplace at a faster speed than if handled internally.
Sign #7. Company Merger, Consolidation, or Reorganization
It’s a fact of corporate life. Companies consolidate, merge, downsize, get bought out, or spin off business lines. It can be a very helpful exercise to seek the counsel of a PR firm to handle messaging to the marketplace and assist in crafting speaking points.
This can help ease the message to shareholders, the public, customers, employees, new employees, and potential clients. The goal here is to not scare away any potential new business while being completely transparent with all interested parties so they are and remain comfortable with the new direction of the company.
On the downside, saying nothing can cause irreparable damage when folks are left to their own speculation, assumptions, and are at the mercy of the rumor mill. Get in front of it!
An outside, objective perspective can really help with market perception, receptivity, and message positioning.
Sign #8. Lack of Marketing Planning
Every business needs a marketing plan—yes, yours too. Without some type of marketing plan to attract and keep your customers, you’re simply shooting in the dark—or better yet, hoping the boogeyman will bring you that bag of cash you asked Santa Claus for last year.
You need some type of repeatable, measurable marketing framework to help you determine if those seat-of-your-pants decisions you’re making are worth the time, effort, and money. You can’t improve results or reach goals if you have no historical footprint or plan as a basis. A consultant can help you.
For more information, check out my article, 10 Must-Ask Questions That’ll Upgrade Your Next Marketing Plan.
Sign #9. Lack of a Strategic Plan
According to balancedscorecard.org, a strategic plan can be described in the following way:
Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. Effective strategic planning articulates not only where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful.
If you don’t have the time and know how to generate a strategic plan for your business, seek the help of a consultant.
The Bottom Line
Consultants can be a game changer for a business. Take an honest look at your business, and if you are experiencing any of these 9 signs, you desperately need to hire a marketing consultant. Make the call today to a consultant. Your business will thank you for it.