Should you hire an online marketing consultant?

I have a mix of clients – some who say “I don’t understand any of this stuff” and others who tell me they “sort of” get it.  When is it time to hire an online marketing consultant and how do you find one?  First, you need to decide if this is a process you want to manage.  You may spend hours optimizing an AdWords campaign, formatting your email newsletters or trying to understand an analytics report.  If you’re not savvy in these areas, you may be better off turning it over to a qualified consultant so you have time to focus on your business.  Yes, you could do marketing yourself but if it’s not your expertise and you’re not sure you can keep up with the constant changes, talk to someone who is immersed in it every day and consider handing things over to them.

When you’re searching for an online marketing consultant, find out how long they’ve been doing this type of work.  Did they hang their shingle yesterday or have they managed some accounts?  Ask what you can expect from them.  Will they provide monthly or weekly reports?  Are they presenting numbers only or will they also offer strategic recommendations?   Have some clarity about their role so expectations are clear from the start.  You definitely want someone who will provide input that can be used to make positive changes to your online presence.

Stay away from any consultant who says they will get you to number #1 overnight and promise to keep you there.  Anyone who does that is probably practicing a “black hat” technique.  These methods will get you immediate results and will also come back to hurt you later once search engines catch on to the shadiness.  The bottom line is ask the questions you need to become comfortable partnering with this person and viewing them as part of your team.