Is it better to hire multiple specialists or one agency to cover your digital marketing needs?
In this post, I want to share some perspectives on these tough questions and offer some practical steps you can take when hiring external digital marketing consultants, to ensure that your expectations and targets are met.
Let’s kick off with results; what results should you expect when hiring a digital marketing consultant?
What Results Should You Expect When You Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant?
Should you expect the results outlined in a consultant’s proposal? Well, that depends on how the consultant has forecasted their results.
Outputs can be guaranteed. Outcomes can’t.
In virtually all areas of digital marketing, you are dealing with a large number of unknowns.
The best search marketers on the planet will admit that they cannot guarantee where your site will rank in a year’s time, let alone one month. The same can be said for social media marketers, content marketers etc.
As such, predicted outcomes are usually nothing more than calculated guesses.
If you’re working with an experienced consultant, the likelihood is that it’ll be a pretty good guess, but even the best marketers are susceptible to overestimating their abilities, and not taking into account external factors.
One of the best thing you can do, as a client, to mitigate against this is to separate fact from speculation, and differentiate outputs from outcomes. Ask your consultant to explain what aspects of their proposal are based on speculation, and what is/isn’t guaranteed.
Replace as many unknowns (e.g. revenue estimates, traffic estimates, and conversion rates) with real numbers, and be conservative. Better to be pleasantly surprised than unpleasantly surprised.
Once you’re happy with your consultant’s strategy and forecasts, expect them.
In a famous experiment, Harvard professor Robert Rosenthal found that the expectations of those around us do influence our results, even when those people never share their expectations with us.
How long should you work with a marketing consultant who doesn’t generate results before considering other options?
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as you might expect.
Digital marketing is a process that takes time to reach a desired result. Think of it like running a bath – you can’t turn the tap on and have a full bath in a matter of seconds.
“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” – Warren Buffett.
Unlike running a bath, which fills at a linear rate (if you run a bath for twice as long it’ll be twice as full), digital marketing growth tends to happen exponentially in growth spurts. Take this website for example – here’s a screenshot of our traffic:
Of course, the work in the first twelve months contributed to the 600% growth spurt, but imagine if I had fired the digital marketer (in this instance, myself) after the six month milestone on the basis that we had only achieved a tiny amount of growth during this period? Had that been the case, I think it’s unlikely we would have grown by 600% in months 12-16.
The flip side of the coin is that you probably pay your consultant on a linear monthly retainer. It’s understandable that many clients get itchy feet when they find that there has been very little growth after months of paying for consultancy.