How to hire a small business marketing consultant

Complete guide to hiring a small business marketing consultant

Marketing consultant meets with small business owner.

Finding the right small business marketing consultant for your business or startup can be a nightmare. Small business marketing consultants can charge hundreds of dollars for a single visit, sell you on false promises, or even worse bail on you. You’re too busy trying to hold your business together, that you can’t take on the responsibility of marketing all by yourself. More often than not what usually happens, is those small businesses put off marketing entirely and focus all of their attention into other parts of their company. That is a no-no! The importance of small business marketing needs no explanation. It is a crucial part of elevating and scaling your business.

However, since small businesses have such a small marketing budget many are left to settle for less. Finding the right marketing consultant for your small business can make or break how well your company performs in the first 6 months. Each marketing consultant comes equipped with unique skill sets that set them apart from their competition. But there are three important things to look for when searching for a marketing consultant, regardless of their specialty.

Number One: Is the marketing consultant actually listening?

Small business owners sitting in a meeting

When you are speaking with a small business marketing consultant make sure they actually listening to you. More often than not, what you will witness is a marketing consultant giving a “sales pitch”. Instead of taking in your concerns, they are repeating the same speech to you that they gave to their previous client. It is rehearsed many times over in their heads, which makes them sound like they a running ad. Each company has different needs. Marketing is not a one size fits all industry. As you continue speaking with a consultant, you should be making mental notes of these three things:

  • Are they asking generic questions about your needs?
  • Talked more about themselves and less about your needs?
  • Making promises within the first 30 minutes of your initial meeting?

During your initial meeting, if they are doing any of the three things above you should be alarmed. When I meet with a potential client, I don’t go into the first meeting thinking I am going to lock this client in. I go into it wanting to get to know him or her and what their struggles are. See how I can help them or point them in the right direction. There is no pitch, there are no promises, or what I do as a marketer. It is all about them.

If you are unsure if you got bedazzled during your meeting, ask yourself this; Did I learn anything about him that I didn’t see on his resume or website? Have we offered them enough information for them to truly understand our business within the first meeting? Claimed he can do x,y, and z for me? If you answered yes to any of those things, move on!

Number two: Is the marketing consultant selling themselves?

Caution tape on a bad salesman

Nothing drives marketing consultants more insane than when we see a bunch of marketing influencers. Claiming they have “cracked the code in getting 2,00 leads a day”. When this happens, you should ask them what do they consider a lead? Sales and marketing may work closely together, but they both have entirely different responsibilities. We aren’t here to close deals, or to bring in a specific client. Marketers are here to help set the foundation where you can bring in clients and close important business deals. Help you create a strategy that will set you apart from your competitors. Create content that will entice people to pick up their phone and call or go to your website and check out your products. We aren’t here to close the deals.

When you get a marketing consultant who makes these sales promises, try asking questions that will validate their claims. We are marketers, not salespeople. There shouldn’t be a sales pitch. They shouldn’t treat your initial meeting as a sales meeting. If they start their sentences with, “I will generate…” or “I guarantee …”, you should run. Rather, they should be starting their sentences with, “I have brought this xx amount of x to my previous client”, or “I have worked with this type of problem with this client and here are the results I accomplished”. Always ask for proof or some type of data so you can weave between the real marketers and the salesmen.

Number three: Did the marketing consultant provide a strategy?

Marketing Strategy provided by marketing consultant

This one is probably the most important decision when it comes to filtering through potential small business marketing consultants. After you have asked the important questions and have come to the conclusion of moving forward with this candidate, you should ask them to come up with a strategy for your company. I have written another article on what needs to be in a marketing strategy, you can find it here. As you look through this strategy, see if it answered your questions and concerns you brought up in your initial meetings. Does the strategy acknowledge your concerns and provide a solution to it? This is a great way of understanding whether you have clicked with your potential marketing consultant. Whether he or she truly understood your needs. Jot down a list of all of your concerns, and check off each one when you find a solution to your problem.


Overall, finding the right small business marketing consultant is not an easy task. Sadly, many small business marketing consultants see you as dollar signs rather than human. Their marketing strategy is not specifically designed for your needs. It is a template they have used over and over. Your Social Media Marketing plan should be very different from your email marketing plan. However, your overall marketing strategy for your small business needs to be consistent with the individual plans. When looking over your marketing strategy, you should look for consistency, analytically backed, and strategically developed.

Business is and always will be human-to-human. Regardless of whether you are using a screen, talking over the phone, or sending an email, the recipient on the other end is a human. Understanding and connecting with a person is a skillset that, sadly not many marketers possess. Our job is to help business promote, scale, and grow their company. We can not do that unless we truly understand who you are and what you want out of your business. So many clients of mine have told me how they just wasted too much money on this one person, or they hired a marketer and bailed on us after a couple of months. It drives me mad to hear this. It shouldn’t be like that, and it doesn’t have to. If you are in need of a marketing consultant, click here to schedule a free consultation.

To all of my small business owners out there, be careful of a sheep in wolves clothing.

A marketing consultant specializing in small businesses and startups

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