Deciding what inbound marketing consultant to work with is an important decision that has a lot of potential consequences for your company. Choosing the right marketing consultant can mean a well-thought-out, strategic plan that’s tailored to your company and its goals. Choosing the wrong inbound marketing consultant can mean a lot of time, effort, and money spent for little to no concrete return. So, with such an important decision, where do you start? What can you do to help ensure your consultant is as beneficial to your business as possible?
How to Select the Right Inbound Marketing Consultant
1. Your Inbound Marketing Consultant Should Be Strategic
One of the most important characteristics you’re looking for with this kind of consultant is a strategic approach. Why is that so pivotal?
Inbound marketing results, by their very nature, grow over time. That is, so long as your inbound strategies are effective, the results compound the longer those strategies are in place. Because it’s already a time-intensive process, you don’t want anything to needlessly slow down those results.
Putting out content that hasn’t been thought through from a strategic marketing perspective could potentially gain you some more site visits and maybe even a few leads. However, if you want the best chance at success, it’s not about merely publishing any content. It’s about putting out the right content, and you only know what that is after the groundwork of strategic planning has informed what kind of content you need to create.
The SLA serves two primary purposes:
2. Your Inbound Marketing Consultant Should Be Interested in Your Business
Every business is different, and that means every inbound marketing strategy needs to be different. If your consultant is offering a cookie-cutter approach to your inbound marketing efforts, that’s a big red flag.
A consultant should spend adequate time to deeply understand the following:
- Your business.
- Your overall business goals and objectives (current and future).
- Your revenue projections (current and desired).
Your particular challenges and barriers to success (areas where you’d like to grow to your business but haven’t had success).
Make sure the consultant is asking, not just a lot of questions, but the right questions. Say, for example, you want to release a new product in the next six months. If that means targeting a new segment of your market, your marketing strategy needs to be implemented with enough time for that campaign to be effective. Your consultant, therefore, needs to be forward thinking. He or she shouldn’t just be thinking about your immediate circumstances but how to continuously plan for what’s coming next for your company, and his or her questions should reflect that.
Being successful with your inbound marketing efforts also means knowing your competition well. Be wary of an inbound marketing consultant who doesn’t research or even consider your competitors. Thorough, strategic competitor analysis involves:
- Determining competitors’ weaknesses and strengths.
- Assessing competitors’ websites.
- Comparing prices (so long as the service or product is actually comparable).
If a consultant doesn’t gather this detailed information, he or she is not properly armed to know how best to help your business thrive.
3. Your Inbound Marketing Consultant Should Aim to Align Marketing and Sales
Aligning marketing and sales is absolutely crucial to the success of any inbound marketing campaign. If your sales and marketing teams aren’t integrated and cooperative in this process, you’re simply less likely to reach your revenue goals and objectives.
The right inbound marketing consultant—from day one—will be interested in your company from both a marketing and sales perspective. Being too heavily focused on the marketing side exclusively is a cause for concern.
The consultant should have the knowledge base and ability to implement effective sales enablement techniques that not only generate strong leads for your company but establish a system for when to effectively hand leads off to the sales team.
A consultant should particularly emphasize the importance of this collaboration between marketing and sales when:
- Creating detailed buyer personas.
- Creating content that’s targeted to those personas.
- Creating the system (or content catalogue) that organizes—or maps—that content for specific personas at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
This collaboration ensures you’re incorporating the collective wisdom and knowledge base of both your marketing and sales teams, and it ensures that everyone who needs access to this content catalogue understands how and why the content was created, when it’s appropriate to use a particular piece of content, and the technological logistics of how to use that online catalogue.
Note that an effective, reputable inbound marketing consultant might not be willing to work with your company if you’re not equally invested in aligning your marketing and sales teams.
4. Your Inbound Marketing Consultant Should Provide Training
Especially if your sales team has traditionally done outbound selling, inbound marketing can seem foreign. However, all the techniques that make salespeople effective carry over to inbound marketing. It’s just a matter of learning the new principles and specific tactics that make inbound marketing effective, and your consultant should be able to provide that training and coaching to your sales team.
A consultant should be able to provide coaching, training, or workshops on a number of topics, including (but not limited to):
- Principles of inbound marketing.
- Importance and logistics of sales enablement.
- Logistics of using inbound marketing technologies, such as a CRM.
5. Your Inbound Marketing Consultant Should Provide Technological Value
You always want to work with forward-thinking consultants who view your company holistically, and part of that is providing value based on your technology solutions.
A consultant should determine if you have:
- A sales CRM.
- Potential sales enablement tools.
- A content database.
That consultant should then determine if those tools and technologies can integrate and work together. If they can’t, your chance of success diminishes. So, a consultant needs to assess your current technology stack, integrate those systems as fully as possible, and then ensure the systems are effectively managed (by sales and marketing).
Learn how to increase marketing and sales productivity by developing a predictable, gowning sales pipeline through inbound marketing and sales enablement.